The History of Aesthetics and Eyelashes Extensions By James E. Murphy, MD on April 21, 2022

The History of Aesthetics and Eyelashes

The history of Eyelashes and Aesthetics is very interesting. Starting in 3500 BC both men and women used kohl and ointments to darken the lashes.  They perceived this as an aphrodisiac.  And also, for practical reasons. The lashes protected their eyes from the rays of the sun.  This trend was therefore brought to Ancient Rome where beauty and femininity was top priority for women. The Romans used kohl, antimony and saffron with ivory sticks to apply.  It was believed that if you had excessive sex your eyelashes would fall out. Therefore, it was very important for those thick long lashes to stay intact to prove their chastity. This was until Christianity arrived. Christian women avoided any form of makeup. They believed that a natural look was more accepted by God. So, cosmetics were a no no.

In medieval times lashes were on the out.  The forehead was considered the most attractive part of a women’s face. They actually removed their lashes and eyebrows.  The women of the Elizabethan Era did not enhance their lashes. They concentrated to mimicking the look of their queen, Elizabeth. With the stark white make up.  Sadly, this trend started as a result of scarring caused by small pox for Queen Elizabeth.  In addition, she used makeup that contained lead. Unfortunately, she lost her teeth and hair due to the toxic nature of lead. In the last few years of her life, she did not allow mirrors in any of her rooms.  While darkening lashes in this era was not acceptable for respectable women, secretly they would use crushed berries or soot to do so. During the Victorian Era cosmetics became popular.  The first mascara was developed by Queen Victoria’s personal perfumer.  And it wasn’t toxic so it became all the rage. Starting in 1900 women started implanting eyelashes with needles. The first patent for artificial lashes was in 1911. However, this trend didn’t really take off until the 1930’s. In 1917 Tom Lyle was intrigued by his sister Mable applying ointment and burnt cork to her lashes to darken them. After improving the product, it came on the market and was called Maybelline, inspired by his sister.  Between the 1920’s and 1940’s women would use a device named Kurlash to curl their lashes. They would even heat the device to make the curl last longer. More women started wearing make up in the 1940’s. This is the time that Maximillian  Faktorowitz, a polish immigrant invented a waterproof mascara and was very popular. This became the beauty brand Max Factor.  In 1958 Revlon released a mascara in a tube with a wand. And it’s still around today. And in 1961 they released the first colored mascara.  Twiggy was the inspiration for paying more attention to the lower lashes. At this time fake lashes were very popular. And the faker the look, the better! In the 1980’s Max Factor created no color mascara. And fake lashes had lost their appeal.  But low and behold just a decade later fake lashes make a comeback and haven’t left.  In the 2000’s Eyelash Extensions came into view.  South Korea and Japan would introduce them to the world.  Their popularity was ignited by the likes of Kim Kardashian and other celebrities. In 2002 more than 60% of women were using mascara worldwide. And by 2009 the mascara market was worth over a 4 billion dollars globally. And increasing every year. After 5,500 years of adorning lashes, I don’t think this trend will end anytime soon. At Murphy Plastic Surgery in Reno, NV, Dr. James Murphy’s office can keep you in lashes!! Extensions as well as eyelash growth serum.

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Dr. James Murphy

Murphy Plastic Surgery & Medical Spa

Dr. James Murphy is a highly trained, board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon who has been in practice 25 years. He serves patients throughout Reno and Lake Tahoe and is affiliated with several prestigious organizations, including: 

  • American Society of Plastic Surgeons 
  • American College of Surgeons 
  • American Medical Association 
  • Reno Surgical Society

Schedule your consultation today by contacting us online or call (775) 322-3446. Se habla español. If you would like to text us during business hours, we can respond via text to you. You can also send pictures to us with questions.

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