Humans have used makeup for centuries to enhance our natural beauty.
One of these aspects has always been our eyes and more specifically eyelashes. Long, fluttering eyelashes are often associated with femininity but have you ever wondered why that is?
In collaboration with Flawless Lashes by Loreta, we’ve put together an overview of the history of eyelash trends and how they ever came to be.
The Eyelash Archives contains artists impressions of these fashions, all condensed in a striking timeline.
Table of Contents
As with so many other fashions throughout history, lashes in Ancient Rome were heavily associated with sex and purity.
Plinius the Elder wrote that having sex would cause eyelashes to fall out! Women wanted to protect their status and prove their virginity, so would apply kohl and saffron. This would help to achieve the long curly lashes we associate with Ancient Rome today.
We can’t possibly know how many people were deceived by this, but we can certainly agree it is a ridiculous notion.
For quite a few centuries, eyelashes were not the forefront of beauty. Trends favoured rouged lips and the infamous lead-based foundations.
The Victorians reignited the eyelash trend, but like many areas of Victoria culture, this was not for the faint-hearted.
Human hair was hand sewn through the eyelid of the wannabe fashionista. In true Victorian style, cocaine was often used as a numbing agent (source).
Thankfully, the same era also produced the first mascara which saw this gruesome craze fade out. Eugène Rimmel (yes-that same Rimmel we know today!) mixed coal dust and Vaseline and it was an instant hit!
It was around this era that Mabel Williams had grown tired of still using coal dust and ointments on her eyelashes.
Rimmel’s invention had not yet made it across the pond, Williams’ brother Tom Lyle saw this gap in the market and quickly cashed in. In turn, this was the birth of Maybelline!
In 1903, the first patented false eyelash finally hit the market in the UK. By 1916 they had caused a huge hype in Hollywood.
Naturally, the masses followed the fashion of the movie stars. Women flocked to chemists to obtain the same look as actresses such as Seena Owen. Her look role in ‘Intolerance, Love’s Struggle Through the ages’ became iconic with some of the longest falsies yet.
Unfortunately, there were consequences to such new cosmetics, it was reported the glue used caused Owen’s eyes to swell to the point she could not see. The director David W. Griffith was not too fussed as her scenes had all been shot when this happened. Charming!
These decades saw the invention of two staples in any woman’s make-up bag. The first was the eyelash curler.
These were popular and inexpensive; the design has hardly changed since they first hit the shelves.
The second invention was waterproof mascara, now mascara was worn as an everyday cosmetic rather than just special occasions a tougher wearing product was needed.
Film studios longed for a product both men and women could wear on camera, so they were able to stand the heat of studio lights and sweat, while still maintaining the glamour.
The ’50s was where the emphasis on bigger eyes really hits its peak. Stars such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn became associated with this wide-eyed, perfectly fanned look. It has even been said that Hepburn’s make-up artist would painstakingly separate each of her individual lashes with a needle before shooting.
Luckily, the look was obtainable without shoving a piece of sharp metal near your eye, plastic false eyelashes had come to the market. With cheaper pricing, this new product, teamed with the classic ‘50’s eyeliner is a style still loved by many today.
Let’s be honest, when you think of ‘60s lashes, Twiggy must be the first in mind. Artificial lashes were so abundant and were the number one request in beauty salons.
Coloured mascaras had also hit the shelves. Contrasting colours of eyeshadow and lashes were all the rage.
The 70s died down with the eye make-up trends, the Summer of Love had brought a wave of the hippy fashion, favouring the natural look.
With that being said, Maybelline invented their ‘Great Lash’ mascara in 1971. This is still a best-seller today!
The 80s was ruled by Madonna, her look was the most sought after by women. Colour was back with a vengeance and this continued into the 90s.
Let’s just all agree to call this the awkward teenage phase of lashes.
It seems the general consensus of ‘anything goes’ was a trend we would all like to forget about.
Feathers, gems, neon colours and glitter are fine for a weekend at Glastonbury but best left there. J. Lo even started the trend of faux fur lashes.
The less said about this time, the better.
With so much new technology at our fingertips, it is no wonder false lashes have evolved too.
Eyelash extensions are one of the most popular requests in salons and with the new technique of being able to apply individual lashes that can last months and give a beautifully natural look, it is no wonder many are opting for this.
The career of Eyelash Technician was unheard of just a few decades ago, now a quick search online can reveal dozens nearby.
The most sought-after eye look is that of Kim Kardashian, the full, thick look has women running for the beauty salons all across the globe!
New products are being released constantly, from eyelash serums to home dye kits. The world of lashes is worth millions and keeps climbing.
In all honesty, who can say where fashion trends will lead our lashes next?
The Lash Archives state that searches for LED lashes increased by 5800% from 2016 to 2018! In twenty years will we have lashes with Bluetooth and speakers?
Perhaps they’ll find a way to build projectors in and we can take video calls at a literal blink of an eye!
You may think it all sounds a bit far-fetched, but we have come a long way from rubbing kohl on our faces and technology doesn’t look like it is going to stop any time soon.