Why false eyelashes were invented?

In 1916, while making his film Intolerance, director D. Griffith wanted actress Seena Owen to have eyelashes that would touch her cheeks, so that her eyes would shine brighter than life.

The false eyelashes

, which were made from human hair, were specifically woven piece by piece by a local wig manufacturer. In 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor first patented artificial eyelashes, using a cloth half moon implanted with small hairs.

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”. He also hired showgirls to sell them and beat customers. In 1911, a Canadian inventor named Anna Taylor patented artificial eyelashes. His invention included glued eyelashes, or lashes in strips, which were thought to be made of human hair.

A few years later, German hairdresser Karl Nessler provided false eyelash services at his salon in New York. According to the New York Times, Nessler announced his services as “a guard against the glare of electric lights. The creation quickly became popular, became a fashion staple in the 19th century and developed the history of eyelash extensions. However, false eyelashes were most likely invented as a beauty tool, since throughout much of history (and to this day) long eyelashes were considered desirable.

Pliny the Elder probably wouldn't have approved of that particular type of long eyelashes, but it should give you some hope that they will return. However, thanks to all previous attempts to achieve beautiful eyelashes, many types of eyelash extensions persist today, as well as permanent makeup, such as microblading, microshading, powdered eyebrows, combined eyebrows and more. One would think, just by reading that, that false eyelashes were a kind of fly trap or Venus torture device. The new eyelash extensions were applied in small groups with glue on existing eyelashes.

This technique allowed the newly embedded lashes to last for weeks until the natural lashes fell out. David Wark Griffith was an American filmmaker working on Intolerance when he realized that Owen's eyes could be accentuated by fuller, thicker eyelashes. Of course, it's no stranger than the medieval tradition of plucking your eyelashes, which existed around the 15th century. While the practice of artificially lengthening eyelashes began in the late 19th century, the first patent for artificial eyelashes was not obtained until 1911. Semi-permanent eyelashes allow people to wake up without worrying about sticking their eyelashes to their eyelids.

It wasn't until 1916, during the shooting of the film Intolerance, that artificial eyelashes began to make waves. Gish claimed that Griffith invented false eyelashes, but like many Hollywood legends, this one is not entirely true. False eyelashes date back to the ancient Romans, when a Roman author, Gaius Pliny Secundus, known by the name of Pliny the Elder, linked shortened eyelashes to a woman's chastity. An advertisement from the 1930s, in which two models appeared posed with gold eyelashes or with platinum beads, showed that they were not just trying to look natural.

Griffith reportedly wanted Owen's eyelashes to be “supernatural” and practically “brushed” his cheeks, so he ordered the hairdresser in the film to stick eyelashes made of human hair to Owen's own eyelids with chewing gum. .

Penelope Tropp
Penelope Tropp

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