What were eyelash extensions originally made for?

According to the New York Times, Nessler advertised his services as “a guard against the glare of electric lights”. It wasn't until 1916, during the shooting of the film Intolerance, that artificial eyelashes began to make waves. In 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor patented artificial eyelashes for the first time, using a fabric crescent implanted with tiny hairs. In 1915, Karl Nessler, a hairdresser known for his permanent waves, opened a hair salon in New York and sold eyelash services, promoting false eyelashes in his salon as, according to the New York Times, “a guardian against the glare of electric lights.” He also hired showgirls to sell them and beat customers.

The main reason for the invention of eyelash extensions was to enhance the beauty of the eyes and make them stand out. Although the practice of artificially lengthening eyelashes began in the late 19th century, the first patent for artificial eyelashes was not obtained until 1911. While COVID affected the eyelash extension industry like any other industry, it's not going away anytime soon because eyes are now even more important, thanks to masks that cover the lips. According to the beauty magazine Marie Claire, humans played and beautified their eyelashes in ancient Egypt, although it wasn't until the late 19th century that people discovered that they could lengthen them with human hair. However, over the years, the function of eyelash extensions has changed and they are now used for a variety of purposes, such as making eyes look bigger, fuller and more defined.

W Griffith wanted her actress to have eyelashes that touch her cheeks, so she instructed her hairdresser to make false eyelashes for her hero, Seena Owen. In the late 19th century, several cosmetic specialists began offering implants for eyelash extensions. In the past decade, many manufacturers of eyelash extensions have appeared in China, Vietnam, Thailand, India and other Asian countries due to the expensive nature of Korean false eyelashes. The history of eyelash extensions is especially interesting and goes back further than most of us realize.

Penelope Tropp
Penelope Tropp

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