The History of False Eyelashes

Would you go as far as having your false eyelashes sewn to your eyelids? No, us neither, yet history books report that's how false eyelashes were first worn – ouch! Early fashion publications mention false lashes in periodicals as far back as 1879.

Who knew the Germans were big lash fans? A German inventor called Karl Nessler laid claim to the first fake lash patent, followed hot on the heels by Anna Taylor, a Canadian, who by early 20th-century standards was an innovator, creating a very similar lash to the strip lash we know today.

Anna was appalled by the state of her lashes due to years of using harsh chemicals to curl them. She hit upon the idea of attaching little clusters of hair on a fabric band to her eyelids. After many goes at getting it right - trial and error, she finally had a product that looked good and was comfortable to wear.

False Lashes Cause a Stir

There's no getting away from it; false lashes were considered racy; back in the late 19th century and early 20th century, makeup, particularly false eyelashes, was associated with prostitutes and (we hate to say it) actresses.

However, by the 1930s, attitudes had changed (slightly), and false eyelashes became more acceptable in society, due in no small part to the Hollywood film industry and fashion publications like Vogue.

The 1920s lash market was all about MORE is more. Times were wild, and women wanted their face fashion to keep up with a decade of indulgence. As false eyelashes became more popular, the style and design changed.

While life was less exuberant in the 1930s due to economic decline, Max Factor, one of the earliest makeup and beauty companies, reported that women will always want makeup even in a recession.

Fake Lashes, No Matter What!

The 1940s were no different. The war years meant money was tight, and you couldn't get hold of most beauty products even if you wanted to. However, women are resourceful, and along with black market nylons (stockings), homemade false eyelashes became their go-to product to make them feel glamorous.

After the second world war (WWII) ended in 1945, false eyelashes became popular with movie stars and actresses again. Many actresses and fashion followers are a necessary part of any glamorous look. In 1947, the fashion house Dior launched his "New Look" collection, which emphasised a woman's femininity with fuller skirts, nipped-in waists, and false eyelashes.

The 1950s and the False Eyelash

As we moved into the 1950s, false eyelashes grew in popularity. By this time, a greater variety of styles and materials were available on the market. Marilyn Monroe was one of the most popular Lash-style icons of the 1950s. Her signature beauty featured long, voluminous lashes that accentuated blue eyes.

The false eyelash trend continued into the 1960s. They became even more popular with the release of the 1966 film ‘Blow-Up’, in which actress Vanessa Redgrave wore false eyelashes and looked magnificently sexy. The film was a significant moment as it was one of the first mainstream films to feature false eyelashes so prominently.

Style icons such as Twiggy sealed the fate of the fake lash industry - The waif-like model with big eyes and long lashes was THE face of the '60s. Fashion historians credit Twiggy and her style with making false eyelashes mainstream.

Blame it on Barbra - 1970s Fake Lash Style

As we moved into the 1970s, false eyelashes took on a more natural look. The style at this time was all about being understated and natural. However, some lash queens still went against the grain, like Barbra Streisand, who continued to rock her signature bold, dramatic lashes.

Twiggy moved into a bolder lash-wearing era, and men took to lashes as fake tan takes to skin. You can thank David Bowie and Ziggy Stardust for that. Ziggy put the glam into glam rock, and bands like Sweet and Mud played the soundtrack to this imaginative generation.

The 70s might have been the era of the three-day week, but that didn't stop false eyelash wearers from taking their lash game to new heights. Ask any girl in Studio 54 in New York or Slack Alice in Manchester, and they will tell you that false eyelashes were their ticket to the high life.

The 1980s - There’s no Lash Like a False Lash

The 80s were a decade that you can only write about if you live through it, and I did, lashes and all. Hair was big, shoulder pads were more prominent, and makeup was… well, it was something you couldn't leave the house without.

False eyelashes were no exception to this rule; they were big, bold, and usually brightly coloured. Neon orange false lashes, anyone? I think not. The 80s false lash wearer wasn't afraid to experiment with their look, and we saw some seriously out-there lash trends emerge during this decade.

Think of Joan Collins as Alexis in Dynasty and her sister Jackie (she wrote The Stud), and you get the idea. Even Agnetha Faltskog (the sexy blonde in Abba) rocked out her blue eyeliner and fake lashes on tour.

Nothing was too much. The famous Coco Channel might have said 'less is more’, but the 80s false lash wearers had none of it.

In the 1990s, Lashes Go Grunge

The false eyelash trend continued into the '90s, with some lash wearers toning down their look and opting for a more natural style. The natural look was in keeping with the overall trend for minimalism that emerged during this decade.

However, some holdouts still preferred a more dramatic look, like supermodel Naomi Campbell, who often wore false eyelashes on the runway and in her iconic beauty campaigns.

One of the most significant moments for false eyelashes was in 1990 when Madonna wore them in her music video 'Vogue'. While she was channelling her inner Marilyn, the rest of the fashion and makeup fraternity was grunging out.

Grunge and heroin chic, made famous by Kate Moss, took the fashion world down a depressing rabbit hole about dark colours, makeup was grim, and you were more likely to see fake lashes on your cheeks than on your eyes.

Luckily, grunge was over by 1996, and a new era of acid raves and warehouse parties was well underway, meaning neon was cool again. And so false eyelashes made their way back into the club scene, complete with smiley faces.

The Naughties Offered Lash Fans a Home

As we moved into the new millennium, false eyelashes became uber popular. Celebrities like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Paris Hilton didn't leave the house without them. The trend soon trickled down to the masses.

One of the most significant moments for false eyelashes was in 2008 when Lady Gaga wore them in her music video 'Poker Face'. She took the false lash game to a new level with her over-the-top style and unique fashion sense.

Recently (in the last 15 years), we have seen a surge in the popularity of false eyelash extensions, a tidal wave.

From the 2000s to Today

Today the eyelash world is yours to explore, with many styles, colours, and materials available to satisfy your sartorial whims. You have a false lash style, whether you want a natural look or something more dramatic.

If you need some style hints, take a tip from Kim Kardashian, who is rarely seen without her false eyelashes. Or go for a more natural look like Gigi Hadid.

Recently, fashion and trends have exploded, thanks to the cult Californian drama Euphoria. The show has pushed false eyelash boundaries, with characters like Jules (played by Hunter Schafer) and Rue (played by Zendaya) rocking out some seriously creative false lash styles.

Not to mention the false lash-wearing Harry Styles, who has taken androgyny and run with it. Look out for his perfume ads (party season is coming), and what’s more, Harry has a starring part in a new film directed by Olivia Wilde, ‘Don’t Worry Darling’, which is due to be released later this year.

False Eyelash Predictions

We love having fun with predictions, so we watch what happens in fashion week. Makeup this year is all about fun. When times are tough, hemlines rise, and makeup uses increase.

Fashion week has not let us down. We have seen false eyelashes in all shapes and sizes, from the traditional to the so far out there.

We think false eyelashes are here to stay, and we predict that we will see even more creative styles emerge in the coming years. So if you're looking for a way to add fun to your makeup routine, false eyelashes are the way to go.

Now that you know more about false eyelashes and their history, it's time to get out there and experiment with your fake lash style - well, what are you waiting for? It's time to get lashed!