Lash extensions have become more and more popular in recent years, but many people don’t know the history of this beauty treatment.
Lash extensions are not a new invention – they’ve been around for centuries!
This post will explore the history of lash extensions and address some burning questions such as who invented lash extensions, why were lash extensions invented and where did they originate from?
Let’s get started!
Eyelash Extension History (By Decades)
Lash extensions are used by a good majority of men and women with thin, sparse, and short lashes to enhance their looks.
The eyelash extension history is rich. How far has it evolved? Let’s find out all about the origin of this cosmetic procedure that has seen significant changes over the years.
1800s: World’s First Eyelash Extensions
The first eyelash extensions were made of human hair in the 19th century and glued to the eyelids.
Although they fell off after a few days of irritation, it’s hard to imagine the allergic reactions that must’ve followed due to their widespread use.
1899: Eyelash Extension Operations
If you’re already wearing eyelash extensions, you might know how convenient getting them is.
What’s more, most of our clients find it so relaxing that they doze off during sessions. But the same wasn’t the case a few centuries ago.
Let me warn you, it’s going to be a little graphic.
Around the end of the 19th century, several cosmetic specialists began offering implants for eyelash extensions.
According to Dundee Courier dated 6 July 1899, specialists did such an operation by threading a needle with hair taken from the head of the person to be operated on.
Next, the lower lid was thoroughly cleaned and dabbed with liquid cocaine to limit the pain.
Hair was then stitched onto the eyelids, followed by cutting and trimming of fibers. The eyes were then bandaged for a day after curling the lashes with silver tongs.
The good news was most of these transplants would then develop roots on the lash line, but several others would fall out.
The Early 1900s: False Lashes Patented
A German hair specialist in the U.K called Charles Nessler began selling fake eyelashes via his salon in London one year after registering the patent- ‘A New or Improved Method of and Means for the Manufacture of Artificial Eyebrows, Eyelashes and the like’.
This was followed by the first-ever U.S patent on strip lashes by Anna Taylor in 1911 where she attached a fabric strip with hair fibers to create fake lashes.
1916: Hollywood Debut
Although lash extensions were finally getting into the mainstream market, it wasn’t until the Hollywood movie ‘Intolerance’ that it really became popular.
As the director of the movie D.W Griffith wanted his actress to have eyelashes that brushed against her cheeks, he instructed his wigmaker to make false eyelashes for his heroine- Seena Owen.
While Ms. Owen suffered from severe allergic reactions afterward, the style caught on so much that 20 million pairs of false lashes were sold annually in the 1930s.
1940: The First False Eyelash Company Is Born
Back in 1947, the Aylott brothers who worked in the film industry decided to establish their own brand called Eylure.
They began the world’s first large-scale production of false lashes by the ’60s in Cwmbran, a town in Wales. Eylure is also the same lashes that created the iconic look of Elizabeth Taylor’s Cleopatra in 1963.
Thereafter, fake lashes became such a rage that many other companies like Revlon and Max Factor launched false eyelashes commercially while celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, and Rita Hayworth preached it as an essential beauty tool.
The 2000s: Advent Of Artificial Lash Extensions
Combining available knowledge from the past and present on lash enhancements at the time, eyelash extensions were created and glued to natural eyelashes somewhere around Japan and Korea during the early 21st century.
These were lightweight, safe, comfortable, custom-made, and long-lasting, unlike the earlier versions.
However, lash extensions hit the limelight when celebrities openly started giving credit to fake lashes for their gorgeous eyes.
The Business Insider article notes that Jennifer Lopez wore lashes made from red fox fur in 2001 to the Academy Awards and Madonna in 2004 wore mink and diamond lashes on her tour.
2008: Eyelash Extension Manufacturing In Large Scale
According to Wiki sources, it was in 2008 that eyelash extensions were first manufactured on a large scale by a Korean beauty business called Aesthetic Korea Co. Ltd.
In the past decade, many eyelash extension manufacturers have popped up all around China, Vietnam, Thailand, India, and other Asian countries owing to the expensive nature of Korean fake lashes.
2021: The Eyelash Extensions Industry Up Till Now
Over the last decade, the industry has come back to life with innovative techniques and booming sales.
From the year 2017 to 2018, the eyelash extensions industry was taken by such a storm that search engines recorded a 152% increase for the keyword ‘eyelashes’ besides selling more than $270 million in lash extensions at the same time.
According to ABC News, eyelash extensions are set to become a $1.5 Billion industry in the next couple of years.
Another favorable upgrade has to do with the lash adhesive. The cyanoacrylate glue that usually took 24 to 48 hours to cure completely is now reduced to just four hours.
In 2014 the owner of One Two Cosmetics invented magnetic lash extensions, which is quoted as the latest innovation in the industry by The New York Times.
Glitter lashes followed and today you can find lashes with more colors than the rainbow. Unlike a decade ago, men are also taking eyelash extensions enthusiastically today.
While COVID did affect the industry of eyelash extension just like any other industry, it’s not winding down anytime soon because the eyes are now all the more important, thanks to face masks covering up the lips.
Recently a brand called Luum was featured on TechCrunch discussing their high-precision robots capable of replacing lash artists in the salon to increase the market size into tens and hundreds of billions.
In short, eyelash extensions aren’t a fad anymore, it’s already a standard of modern beauty.
Who Invented Eyelash Extensions?
The history of eyelash extensions is riddled with many unconfirmed stories and myths.
Some say it was Egyptians who first came up with the idea of artificial lashes made from thin strips of gold and silver.
Others claim that false lashes were first used in 1916 by director D.W Griffith to make actress Seena Owen look more alluring in the movie Intolerance.
The most popular story, however, is that of Anna Taylor.
A beauty salon owner from New York, Anna Taylor is credited with being the first person to apply false eyelashes commercially while celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Twiggy, and Elizabeth Taylor were some of her earliest clients.
Why Were Eyelash Extensions Invented?
The primary reason for the invention of eyelash extensions was to enhance the beauty of eyes and make them stand out.
However, over the years, the function of eyelash extensions has changed and they are now used for various purposes like making the eyes look bigger, fuller, and more defined.
They are also used to add length and thickness to the lashes, as well as to create different looks for special occasions.
Where Did Eyelash Extensions Originate From?
Lash extensions are believed to have first been used in ancient Egypt. It is said that they were used to enhance the beauty of eyes and make them stand out.
Both Egyptian men and women were seeking this novel way to improve their appearance and status.
Were Eyelash Extensions Invented?
Eyelash extensions were invented and patented in 1911 by Anna Taylor. She was a beauty salon owner from New York. Ms. Taylor is credited with being the first person to apply false eyelashes commercially.
The patent description says they were intended “to be used in combination with the natural eyelashes to add length, thickness, and/or fullness thereto.”
What Were False Eyelashes Originally Called?
False eyelashes were originally called “artificial eyelashes”.
The history of eyelash extensions is fascinating, and the future looks even brighter for this industry! We can’t wait to see what new innovations emerge in the years to come.
If you have any questions about lash extensions and their origins, just let me know in the comments below!
- Rachel Lubitz (2017). The history of fake eyelashes will make you never want to wear them again. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/the-history-of-fake-eyelashes-will-make-you-never-want-to-wear-them-2017-7?IR=T (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Jennifer Wright (2015). A True History of False Eyelashes. Retrieved https://www.racked.com/2015/10/7/9457395/a-history-of-false-eyelashes (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Wikipedia Writers (2007). Eyelash extensions. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eyelash_extensions (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Madame Madeline (2015). Little Bit of History Behind the Eylure Brand. Retrieved from https://www.madamemadeline.com/false-lashes/little-bit-of-history-behind-the-eylure-brand/ (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Dr. Julie Woodward (2020). Lashes, Lasers and Lifts: The Past, Present and Future of Lash Enhancement. Retrieved from https://www.cosmeticsurgeryforum.com/lashes-lasers-and-lifts-the-past-present-and-future-of-lash-enhancement/ (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Brandon Gaille (2019). 33 Eyelash Extension Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis. Retrieved from https://brandongaille.com/33-eyelash-extension-industry-statistics-trends-analysis/ (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Shannon K. Crawford (2018). How false eyelashes have become a must-have, everyday accessory and a booming market. Retrieved from https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/false-eyelashes-everyday-accessory-booming-market/story?id=55019597 (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
- Connie Loizos (2021). Could eyelash extensions become a huge market? This robotics startup thinks so. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2021/02/02/could-eyelash-extensions-become-a-huge-market-this-robotics-startup-thinks-so/ (Accessed on 19-3-2021)
Life Is Short, Your Lashes Don’t Need to Be
Sign up for exclusive insights, tips, and tricks for long eyelashes to fall for!
100% free. Only the good stuff.