The Fascinating History of Eyelash Extensions

The eyelashes of the human embryo develop from the ectoderm between the 22nd and 26th weeks of pregnancy. Natural eyelashes do not grow beyond a certain length and fall out on their own without the need to be trimmed. But did you know that the love for eyelashes has been around longer than you think? According to the beauty magazine Marie Claire, ancient Egyptians began using brushes and ointments to achieve voluminous, fluttering eyelashes in 3500 BC. C.

In Egypt, it wasn't just women who sought to extend their eyelashes - both men and women used different materials, such as malachite, to darken their eyelashes. Pliny the Elder thought they were a symbol not only of youth but also of a chaste character, stating that eyelashes fell out due to excessive sex, so it was especially important for women to keep their eyelashes long to demonstrate their chastity. In 1915, Karl Nessler, a hairdresser known for his permanent waves, opened a hairdresser in New York and sold eyelash services, promoting false eyelashes in his salon as, according to the New York Times, “protection against the glare of electric lights”. Taylor's patent was no longer his own, even though he had developed the process of creating hair-like strips that fit the eyelashes. In the 1920s and 1930s, advertisements appeared in Vogue for women adorned with huge eyelashes and bright colors.

In addition, modern false eyelashes are made of different materials and are lighter than ever. Synthetic eyelashes are made with a plastic fiber called PBT or polybutylene terephthalate. This fiber is a type of polyester that is heated and molded into the desired eyelash shape. These types of eyelashes tend to be thicker than normal eyelashes and generally feel heavier on the eyes due to the stiffer band. Synthetic eyelashes are designed for single use only. Human hair extensions offer a different layer of beauty that highlights the eyes and completes an outfit.

When it comes to eyelash extensions, there are a lot of different types to choose from, so it shouldn't surprise us that there are also extensions made from human hair. Owen suffered mild eye swelling from the trick, but that didn't stop the eyelash craze that would soon follow. And then natural trends appeared in the 1970s, and even more so in the 1990s, and false eyelashes fell just as they so often did on tea cups, ceasing to be prominent. It made us think, and it turns out that false eyelashes have a long and rather tortured history that dates back to ancient Rome. Turns out it's less strange than almost everything else people have been doing to their eyelashes throughout history.

Kirsty Matthews
Kirsty Matthews

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