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the Real History of Fake Lashes

Lash extensions, falsies, fake lashes...whatever you call 'em or prefer to use.

While many enjoy the luxuries of beautifying the eyelashes, not many know where those little locks of loveliness originated...furthermore, not many realize how far back they originated.

The First Faux Lash

Picture it. 1916, on the production set of D.W. Griffith's film, Intolerance.

Griffith’s vision of the films leading lady, played by Seena Owen, has not been created up to par. He remarks that the heroine was to have lashes that “brushed her cheeks, to make her shine larger than life.”

Griffith ordered a local wig maker to design, what would later be regarded as the first false lashes, for the task.

Made simply of several strands of human hair and some finely woven gauze, the lashes were glued onto Owen's eyelashes using spirit gum--a standard production adhereing solution used for fake mustaches and such.

While most consider the D. W. Griffith incident as the beginning, however, fake eyelashes actually date back to the late 1800s.

The first method of adding false eyelashes was quite drastic. The widely reported Parisian beauty technique of sewing hair into the eyelid was conducted with no anaesthetics or simply with cocaine to numb the pain.

"Truly the inventions this nineteenth century has brought forth are wonderful, but surely one of the most marvellous is this:—The Parisians have found out how to make false eyelashes. I do not speak of the vulgar and well-known trick of darkening the rim round the eye with all kinds of dirty compositions, or the more artistic plan of doing so inside the lid. No, they actually draw a fine needle, threaded with dark hair, through the skin of the eyelid, forming long loops, and, after the process is over (I am told it is a painless one), a splendid dark fringe veils the coquette’s eyes."

(The Newcastle Courant, 1882)

1920s - 1930s

Materials became synthetic, glue became less dangerous, and application and removal became much easier. But it was certainly the push of magazines that really brought false lashes into the spotlight. A Vogue magazine ad from the 1930’s, featuring two models posed with eyelashes that were golden or beaded with platinum, showed that they weren’t just intended to look natural, but rather, could transform ones face into anything imaginable. Fake lashes were really beginning to change the beauty industry landscape, one strip at a time.

1940s - 1950s

At the time, makeup was all about emphasizing the peepers—and painting cat eyes on the upper lashline, with fanned-out lashes to match, was a trend. In the early '40s, waterproof mascara formulas were introduced and became very popular. In 1958, Revlon introduced the first mascara package in a tube with a spiral-tip wand.


The 1960s were a highpoint for false eyelashes in the twentieth century. With iconic fashion figures like Twiggy, wearing bold lashes on both her upper and lower lids, the fake lash really took off.

Meanwhile, cosmetic manufacturers, such as Andrea, challenged wearers to find their "eye-dentity," a marketing scheme to promote their 20 different types of false lashes.

1970 - 1990s

From disco to the onset of the iconic 90s supermodel, fake lashes continued to increase in popularity and demand.

The "bombshell" look of pin-ups like Pamela Anderson and Anna Nicole Smith only helped increase popularity in the luscious lash look. Sales of falsies continued to increase into the late 90s.

Millenium Makeover

The bigger, the better—the beauty of lashes today is that they can be whatever you want. There's all sort of technology at your finger tips, from lash hair extensions to faux fur falsies as well as a million different mascaras. Eyelash extensions are more accessible than ever. There are many different options, several price points and lash studios popping up all over the place. While fake lashes continue to flourish, eyelash extensions are definitely the next big thing.

To schedule your next appointment or to find out more about our services to help beautify your lashes, click here.

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