The idea behind false eyelashes first came from the Ancient Romans. Pliny the elder, a Roman author, wrote that excessive sex caused women’s eyelashes to fall out, and women should keep their lashes long to prove their chastity. Pliny was incorrect of course – but the idea is only a bit more unusual than the medieval tradition of pulling your eyelashes out. Long lashes started to be popular as a fashion accessory in the late 19th century. At this time, having human hair threaded through their eyelids was a popular procedure for those who could afford it or stand to have it done – but efforts to glue on fake lashes were messy and largely unsuccessful. Then, in the early 20th century, a New York hairdresser called Karl Nessler marketed fake lashes as a guard against the glare of electric lights.
Today, false eyelashes are a popular fashion accessory, But it was really celebrities that popularised false lashes as a fashion statement throughout the 20th century – largely thanks to Seena Owen’s striking lashes in 1916 Hollywood film, Intolerance. After this, the long lash was fully embraced as a fashion accessory and became more embellished and stylised, plus easier to apply. Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth sported their glamorous long lashes in the fifties, and Twiggy went bigger and bolder in the 60s. Interestingly Twiggy often had lashes painted on to her cheeks, just like women in Ancient Rome, but she wore stick-on fake lashes too. False lashes had a massive resurgence in the nineties when Cindy Crawford and Pamela Anderson went for the retro 50s look.
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