Beaded Eyelashes in the 1920s

Before the beauty and fashion media popularised false eyelashes, show business performers turned to a cheaper alternative: beading. By applying beads of makeup to their lashes, actors, dancers, and chorus girls could achieve the look of fuller, darker, longer lashes.

Even after false lashes became commonplace, eyelash beading persisted in the film industry until the Sunset Boulevard “close-up” shot arrived. It's unclear when the practice of beading began, but it likely originated in the 19th century, probably the 1920s, with the introduction of grease paint.

Read on to discover more about beaded eyelashes and how to recreate the 1920s style at home.

Eyelash Beading Technique

There's no escaping it; beaded eyelashes from the 1920s were a faff. However, eyelash beads may have seemed relatively normal because the cosmetics we use today were not invented.

Initially, people used ordinary grease paint from theatrical makeup suppliers to create the design, and gradually several suppliers started producing beading makeup with names such as 'Alpine Cosmetic' (Stein), 'Heating Cosmetic' (Leichner), 'Beadex' (Mehron) 'Eyelash Beading' (Max Factor) and 'Noir Cosmetique' (Roger&Gallet).

The technique involved using a pin to place the beading on their lashes. First, the performer had to mould the grease paint into tiny beads. They then inserted those beads onto their lashes one at a time using a pin or orange stick and some melted-down grease paint to act as adhesive or mascara.

Experts in eyelash beading could recreate the effect by sweep and blob technique. This technique includes a small amount of black or brown eyelash beading makeup and heating until it is hot, runny, and ready to work its magic.

With a steady hand, you dip the flat end of an orange stick into the pan, taking just enough melted makeup to sweep down each eyelash. The makeup is applied with care, one by one, leaving a delicate bead or blob on each lash tip.

Our description makes the process sound more straightforward than it is in 1920, the whole process would have taken ages, and you only had gaslight to see by. The process was time-consuming, yet the results were stunning, with beading creating a dramatic, eye-catching effect.

Eyelash Beading in Pop Culture

The popularity of eyelash beading began to fade as soon as false lashes became available during the 1920s and 30s. Even so, Hollywood stars such as Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Bette Davis continued to use beading in various forms until the late 1940s.

The beauty of beaded eyelashes came back into fashion with a vengeance in the 60s and 70s, thanks to the wide-eyed look trend on the faces of icons such as Diana Ross and Cher. The trend for beaded lashes never truly died, being seen on celebrities from time to time in the present day.

For example, in 2022, Lucy Boynton wore pearl beaded eyelashes to the Met Gala, this is not eyelash beading in the true sense, but it's undoubtedly an updated take on the style.

How to Recreate the Beaded Eyelash Look at Home

Eyelash beading is not for the faint-hearted; it's a challenging look to recreate at home and is probably best left to professional makeup artists, but with the increased popularity of shows like 'Glow Up' and 'Glow Up Ireland' lots of amateur MUA's are testing out the look. Here's how you can create a 1920s beaded eyelash look at home.

You need the following…

  • One pair of false eyelashes with wide and long clusters
  • Some black eyelash glue
  • Some black beads
  • Tweezers
  • A thin makeup brush
  • Black mascara
  • Makeup fixing spray

This modern eyelash beading method is created on your false lashes before you put them on. Here is a step-by-step guide to recreating this iconic 1920s beaded eyelash look.

  1. Take one pair of lashes; we suggest using faux mink lashes such as Doll Beauty Lashes Eva. We have chosen Eva because the lash strands are graduated and offer a long lash at intervals, allowing easier bead placement.
  2. Place a coat of mascara onto the lashes because they are not on your eyes, it's best to keep them on their packaging. Otherwise, the application becomes almost impossible.
  3. Using your tweezers pick up a bead and put a small blob of black lash adhesive on one side. Wait for the glue to become tacky, and place your bead onto the longest strands as far apart or close together as you choose.
  4. Coat the individual lash and the bead with some mascara painted on with a small thin brush.
  5. Allow to dry fix the lashes to your lash line using the black eyelash glue when completely dry. You will need more than usual as the beads make the lashes heavy.
  6. Spray your face with makeup-fixing spray; remember to close your eyes.

You will only get one wear from these lashes, so it's a statement that you can only repeat if you start all over again.

Here's the link to a TikTok eyelash bead tutorial, but the model uses candle wax for the beads this is not something we recommend, but the short video is informative.

Extreme False Lash Styles to Rival Beaded Eyelashes 1920s

When you think you've seen the most extreme false lash style, another takes its place. Enter the sequinned lash look, another style you can create at home. The technique is similar to the eyelash beads, but sequins and glitter as used instead of beads.

You will need…

  • One pair of false eyelashes with wide and long clusters
  • Some clear eyelash glue
  • Some glitter and sequins
  • Tweezers
  • A thin makeup brush
  • Makeup fixing spray

Like the 1920s beaded false eyelash look, the lashes add glitter and sequins before putting them on your eyelids. Here is your step-by-step guide…

  1. Take a pair of Boldface Lashes Blank Slate, we have chosen these because they are unusual to start with, and once you pump them up with glitter and sequins, they look out of this world.
  2. Put some transparent eyelash adhesive onto a small brush and coat the tips of your lashes.
  3. Pick a sequin or glitter piece using tweezers and coat one side with lash adhesive. Wait for the glue to become sticky and place it onto the longest strands as far apart or close together as you choose.
  4. Coat each lash tip, dip it into your glitter pot, and shake. Any loose sequins or glitter will fall away. Anything left behind should stay in place all night (no guarantees).
  5. Place your modified Boldface Lashes Blank Slate onto your lash line as usual.
  6. Spray your entire face with a makeup-fixing spray, remembering to keep your eyes closed.

These lashes are for adventurous false lash wearers who don't mind that the lashes are a once-only lash affair.

Beaded eyelashes and extreme false lash styles have a lot in common both involve glueing beads, sequins, and glitter to fake lashes before applying them as usual. The 1920s beaded look needs specialised beads, glue, and plenty of time to practise the style before getting to the end product; it may not be for everyone.

Here are some extreme styles you can buy from us that you can apply in minutes and are reusable.

Rainbow strip lashes for colour and style that stands out, and why not? Colour and style are a winning combination.

Gloriously thick, cruelty-free lashes that shine with blue and purple strands interspersed between luscious false lashes.

No colours or sparkles on these lashes, just bags of drama with the matte velvet effect. For those who prefer their false eyelashes to be more subtle and natural, we also have styles which provide a beautiful and delicate finish that gives you an enviable look without too much fanfare.

Whatever your preference, FalseEyelashes has something for everyone, no matter how adventurous you are and the look you’re rocking.