In this modern age of Botox and fillers, younger generations are often judged by the older for obsessing too frequently over their appearance.
The Kim Kardashian look of luscious, fluttering lashes will most likely be as iconic to our era as ostentatious neck ruffs were to the Tudors.
Giving a concise overview of all things lash related throughout history, why not have a look and see if your chosen makeup style is actually a copycat from centuries ago?
The first recorded evidence of eye makeup was used by men. They would apply kohl and ointments to protect eyes from harmful sun rays and ward of evil spirits.
Not to be outdone by the men, women styled themselves using similar methods but also incorporated malachite as it was believed to be an aphrodisiac.
Plinius the Elder famously wrote that excessive sex would cause eyelashes to fall out. Of course, we know this notion to be absolute nonsense, but women of this era would obsessively apply kohl to their eyelashes in order to ‘prove’ their chastity.
Eyelashes certainly played a big role in this period, but in a completely different manor. Instead of enhancing these, they were plucked out.
The forehead was considered the most beautiful attribute of a woman and was given the appearance of being larger by plucking hairlines, eyebrows and eyelashes.
The famous red-headed monarch, Queen Elizabeth I, was one of the first to have her subjects follow her aesthetic so closely. Women of high society would dye their lashes and hair the same shade to obtain a regal appearance. This was often done in solitude as it was deemed common and not a respectful act for such aristocracy.
The Victorians were infamous for gruesome practices and their cosmetic procedures were no different.
The easy-to-apply false eyelashes we know today had not yet come into existence. The Parisians would have real hair individually sewn through the epidermis of the eyelids using needles. This being such a painful treatment, in true Victorian fashion, cocaine was used as a numbing agent.
Thankfully, the perfume brand Rimmel invested a non-toxic mascara and this grisly practice was quickly phased out. This also birthed the cosmetic company Rimmel that is well known today.
The Early 20th Century
The silver-screen rapidly aided in changing fashions and was perfectly timed with the first patent for false eyelashes.
W.D. Griffiths, a famous Hollywood director, has a specific vision for his leading lady in Intolerance. Seena Owen’s makeup artist was told her eyelashes must ‘brush her cheek’. Owen adorned the most ostentatious set of falsies for the film but with such lack of experience, the adhesive used caused her eyes to swell and she was unable to see for a long period of time. This didn’t stop the masses flocking to stores to copy her look.
Art Deco Inspiration
The roaring twenties saw a surge in big eyelashes. The invention of the eyelash curler meant a sweeping curve was easily achievable. This invention was affordable and so well designed that they have hardly changed in almost a century.
This decade saw even more focus on our peepers. Winged eyeliner and fanning lashes took the world by storm. This was often teamed with a ruby red lipstick and rouge and created one of the most popular makeup looks in history. This style is still incredibly popular today.
Colour really saw a rise in the sixties. Eyeshadow palettes were no longer subtle, and every shade was available and worn.
Twiggy paved the way for a new craze, adding more attention to the lower lash shaped the fashion of the sixties and gave Twiggy her recognisable look.
The seventies saw a decrease of makeup use. The Summer of Love generated the ‘Hippy’ and a more natural look was in fashion.
A decade later, colour was back with a vengeance. Gaudy eyelashes and mascaras were all the rage. False eyelashes had made a comeback and neon consumed the high street.
The nighties saw a resurgence of the fifties and ‘retro’ makeup started becoming increasingly popular.
Between 2016 and 2018, searches for LED lashes were up by 5800%. With new technology forever changing our beloved possession, what is next for our lashes?
Perhaps Bluetooth? We could answer calls at a literal ‘blink of an eye’. Built-in sat-nav may not be too far away?
We can only wait and see!
Top photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash