A History of Eyelash Extensions: How Long Have People Been Enhancing Their Lashes?

woman with full set lash extensions from The Lash Lounge

Just how long have eyelash extensions been around anyway? You might be surprised to learn women have been looking for creative ways to enhance their eyes and lashes not just for the past several years, but millennia!

It might be hard to believe but think about it for a second. Has there ever been a day you didn’t want to feel beautiful? Beauty isn’t a fad. Women have been experimenting with different ways to express their own beauty through body enhancements and modifications for ages!

From ancient Egypt to present day, join us as we take a trip down lash extension lane and learn how the desire, demand and cycle of lash enhancements has evolved over centuries, culminating in the introduction of today’s lash extensions in the 2000s.

Enhanced Eyelashes: The (Very) Early Days

The Egyptian Era

The history of enhanced eyelashes dates back as early as 2500 B.C. during the time of the Egyptians, where ointments and brushes were used to achieve fluttery fanned-out lash looks.

Tinting treatments were also quite popular—for both men and women.

The Roman Days

As time went on, early Roman women aspired to have ultra-long lashes after famed philosopher Pliny the Elder predicted that having lengthy eyelashes was a result of maintaining a moral lifestyle and chastity vows.

Missing Lashes in The Middle Ages

Believe it or not, women in the Middle Ages were not focused on their lashes, but their foreheads! Sounds crazy, but it was what was considered a beautiful feature at that time. Since they wanted to showcase their foreheads, they plucked their eyelashes (OUCH!!!) and shaved their eyebrows.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t last long…

The 1800s

Enter again: the desire for beautiful, lush lash enhancements in the early 1800s. This time, someone had the “great” idea to glue human hair to their eyelids. No surprise—that didn’t work well either. Plus, talk about infection/allergy city!

Another cringeworthy experiment came in 1899 when women were going so far as to have “lashes” implanted with a needle to their eyelids. (Say what?!? #NoThanks 😳)

The Lash Industry is Born

1902–1911: The First Known Patent of Artificial Lashes

And now, for some more sophisticated lash technology, we invite you into the 20th century. In 1902, Karl Nessler, a famous hairdresser from England, created a patented process for making and weaving artificial eyelashes. Anna Taylor, a woman from Canada, soon followed when she created the first patent for artificial lashes in 1911. She did this by developing a crescent of fabric material with tiny hairs attached to it.

Slowly but surely, the lash industry was born!

1916 + Old Hollywood

D.W. Griffith, a Hollywood film producer, became an eyelash pioneer during movie shoots in 1916. It was while watching outtakes he noticed something was missing on silent film actress, Seena Owen. You guessed it—beautiful, feminine eyelashes!

Griffith’s solution was to transform Owen’s eyelashes. The film’s resident wigmaker was commissioned to create lash extensions by gluing a mix of human hair and gauze onto Owen’s lash line for the film.

A Business Ready to Boom

The 1940s–1960s

With the help of Hollywood, enhanced eyelashes gained more popularity in the 1940s and 1950s. The beauty industry quickly noticed and began experimenting with various lash application techniques.

In 1947, the Aylott brothers, British makeup artists in the film industry, formed a company called Eyelure. This was one of the first known companies to manufacture false lashes.

In the ’60s, the Aylott brothers were to thank for Elizabeth Taylor’s iconic lashes for her role in the movie Cleopatra. Between Liz and famous fashion model Twiggy, false eyelashes were all the rage! Women everywhere were on the hunt for products to make their lashes more striking.

By 1968, false eyelashes were a booming business in America. Some of the companies selling them were Max Factor, Revlon and Elizabeth Arden, to name a few.

The 2000s: Lash Extensions Come State-Side

Fast-forward to the early 2000s and in come the modern-day eyelash extensions and services we know and love. Sure, lash strips remained popular, but thanks to celebs like Paris Hilton and Jennifer Lopez, the demand for this beauty service grew fast.

The low-maintenance benefits and more natural appearance than strip lashes, had women of all ages hooked on eyelash extensions!

2004: The Birth of The Lash Lounge

During her early days as a massage therapist, Anna Phillips, Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of The Lash Lounge, was always fascinated by the world of beauty. She especially loved how a service well done could completely transform the self-esteem of the client. The brave and enterprising woman that she is, she pursued the passion that had always lied deep within: She became a certified esthetician and permanent makeup artist. While performing services, another thing caught her eye; she noticed semi-permanent eyelash extensions were becoming a booming business overseas. What an opportunity in the U.S.! She took it, mastered lash extensions and began to build the eyelash extension industry that is flourishing today.

2006: The Lash Lounge Is Born!

Soon, her schedule became so jam-packed with lash guests, she had to hire another stylist to help her keep up. It quickly became clear that she would either need to stop taking lash guests or open up her own salon. Guess which path she took. 😉 The Lash Lounge was born!

In 2009, she started franchising. Today, there are over 100 Lash Lounge salons across the United States. Women of all ages and cultures continue to seek out ways to make them feel beautiful. And lash extensions are here to stay!

Life with Lash Extensions: Your Journey Awaits

Ready to embark on your own journey and life with lash extensions? Or wondering if you are a candidate for eyelash extensions? Let a Lash Lounge near you assist! Find a salon in your area and make an appointment online today.