Why Were Fake Eyelashes Invented?

In the world of beauty, where people have long coveted voluminous lashes, the invention of false eyelashes revolutionized how individuals enhance their eyes. But why were fake eyelashes invented in the first place? Let's look at the history behind these tiny hairs and people's fascination with them.

Fake Eyelashes: A Canadian Invention

On June 6, 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor patented the first artificial lashes, forever changing the beauty landscape.

Taylor's invention paved the way for the mass production of false eyelashes, offering women across the globe access to voluminous lashes previously reserved for the elite. From the stages of Broadway to the silver screens of Hollywood, false lashes would quickly become a staple in the world of entertainment.

Ancient Beginnings

Throughout history, longer lashes have symbolized beauty and allure. Anna Taylor didn't claim the first patented artificial lashes until 1911, but people were fixated on the idea of making their eyes more appealing long before that.

The ancient Egyptians, known for their extravagant makeup techniques, sought to achieve mesmerizing eyes framed by long lashes. To adorn their eyes and protect them from the harsh sun, they darkened their natural eyelashes with kohl and other substances. There's evidence that both women and men in ancient Egypt wore cosmetics.

Women in ancient Rome also used kohl, along with burnt cork, to accentuate their eyes. And in the court of Queen Elizabeth I, women used berries to dye their eyelashes a shade similar to that of the queen's hair, which was a novel shade of red at the time.

People were no less obsessed with their lashes when the Victorian era arrived. Eugene Rimmel, Queen Victoria's perfumer and the eventual founder of the Rimmel makeup brand, created the first mascara from coal dust and Vaseline (which, by the way, has been around since 1870).

True or False Eyelashes?

People sometimes credit American film director D.W. Griffith with inventing artificial eyelashes, but there's little to no evidence to support this claim.

As the story goes, Griffith was working on his film "Intolerance" in 1916. Known for his attention to detail in important scenes, he recognized the impact of long lashes under electric lights.

To enhance the eyes of actress Seena Owens, he asked the film's wigmaker to glue human hair onto her eyelids using spirit gum, effectively creating a set of false eyelashes.

This story may or may not be true, but it's certainly false that Griffith invented fake lashes since Taylor had already patented her idea five years prior.

From Hollywood to Homes Everywhere

Just as the popularity of fake eyelashes was starting to soar in the United States and Canada, people's fascination with makeup was taking off, too. These beauty standards were on display in Hollywood more prominently than anywhere else.

Max Factor, a Russian maker of cosmetics who emigrated to the U.S. in 1914, developed a close relationship with the film industry and was soon supplying the studios with eye shadow, eyebrow pencils and other products. The makeup artists on film sets used these new tools to make their actors and actresses look good on the big screen.

In 1916, Factor began making his makeup available to the public, transforming the way women of that day and age approached eye makeup. In doing so, he kicked off a beauty revolution and set the foundation (pun intended) for what the beauty industry would become.

By the 1930s, curling eyelashes was also en vogue. The first device for curling lashes was patented on April 7, 1931, with the design looking virtually no different from the devices you see on the market today.

Different Types of Fake Eyelashes

Modern false eyelashes come in various forms, each using different techniques to mimic the appearance of long eyelashes, creating a more glamorous effect.

  • Glue-on lashes, also known as strip lashes, are among the most common. They usually consist of synthetic fibers or real hair attached to a thin strip. You apply these false lashes using a small amount of glue along the base of your natural lashes.

  • Eyelash extensions involve attaching individual synthetic fibers or real hair to your natural lashes using a semipermanent glue.Unlike strip lashes, eyelash extensions attach directly to your natural lashes. They can vary in length, curl, and thickness, allowing you to customize your look. With proper care, eyelash extensions can last several weeks before requiring a touch-up.

  • Fabric-implanted lashes are a less common type of false eyelashes that involve embedding fabric fibers — such as silk, mink or synthetic fibers — directly into the eyelid's edge. Typically, trained professionals at salons perform these types of lash services since they require significant expertise and a steady hand.

  • Magnetic lashes feature small magnets along the lash band, which adhere to a magnetic eyeliner you apply along the natural lash line. This holds the false lashes in place without the need for glue and makes magnetic lashes easy to apply and remove.

"Falsies" is a colloquial term used to refer to false eyelashes in general, encompassing various types, such as glue-on lashes, magnetic lashes and eyelash extensions.

The Enduring Appeal of Long Eyelashes

People's obsession with long, luxurious-looking lashes continues, although today falsies are such a common beauty staple that probably very few people even know the name of the woman who invented fake eyelashes.

The entertainment, fashion and beauty industries have significantly boosted the appeal of lash enhancement. This encompasses the many public figures, past and present, who became famous for treating the cameras to one glamorous look after another.

From the fluttering lashes of Marilyn Monroe in her classic films to the dramatic eye makeup of Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian on the red carpet, false eyelashes remain a timeless accessory that beauty enthusiasts wear and enjoy worldwide.

This article was created in conjunction with AI technology, then was fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.

Original article: Why Were Fake Eyelashes Invented?

Copyright © 2024 HowStuffWorks, a division of InfoSpace Holdings, LLC, a System1 Company