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From Ancient Rome to Kim K, see how eyelash fashion has evolved since 753 A.D.

For many, eyelash fashion like the images below and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, are a very modern concept. However, a look back through history reveals this interest in enhancing the eyelashes, whether by adding to them or styling them in specific ways, is a far older practice – one easily traced back to Ancient Rome.

With the help of Flawless Lashes by Loreta, take a look through time at how eyelash fashion has developed over the years since the Romans ruled the world with The Eyelash Archives.

Saffron and Kohl for Darker Longer Eyelashes

As far back as 753 A.D. Ancient Romans saw thick, long and curly eyelashes as a sign of importance – a concept they adopted from the East. Plinius the Elder was, at least in part, responsible for this trend when he wrote about eyelashes falling out during sexual intercourse and concluded that long and healthy lashes were a sign a woman was chaste and had good morals.

As a result, women started using saffron and kohl to not only maintain longer more luscious lashes, but to darken them too.

Kim Kardashian loves her lashes to look long and luscious. Image credit: DFree/

Eyelash Extensions – The French Connection

The first recorded instance of extensions to give existing lashes length was during the first half of the 1880s in Paris, where French women were having real hair sewn into their eyelids to achieve this bold look. Towards the end of the century, this look had spread and was also commonly used in Scotland.

From London to Hollywood – The First Artificial Lashes and Brows

Not long after the turn of the 20th century, during 1902, Karl Nessler – a noted stylist and inventor – secured a patent allowing him to weave the first artificial eyelashes and brows within Britain. A year later, from his London salon, he was selling his artificial lashes.

Moving forward a little in time, it was actress Seena Owen who was the first of many to wear false eyelashes on the silver screen. Under the direction of D.W. Griffith, for his movie Intolerance, she wore human hair woven carefully through a very fine gauze-like material, giving the appearance of longer lashes.

Eyelash fashion is now much more diverse and extensive than ever before, encompassing an endless supply of brands, colours, styles and materials

From Curly to Twiggly

As more attention was given to eyelashes, new looks were being developed, as were the tools necessary to achieve them. The first eyelash curler was introduced during the 1930s and this, along with the improvements to techniques used, increased the popularity of artificial lashes.

By the 40s there was greater interest in clusters and flares, adding thickness to lashes and replacing the more conventional fringe base. Then, during the 50s, it was all about focusing on the eyes – cat eyes were commonly painted onto the upper eyelash line with the lashes fanned out to give what is commonly known as the ‘Twiggly cat eye’ look.

Colour and Fanning

The 80s, following on from the colourful lashes of the 60s and the dramatic low brows of the 70s, saw fanned-out eyelashes in vogue again. Thanks in no small part to the success of Madonna. Interestingly, the 50s eyelash fashion became a big hit again during the 80s and 90s when Cindy Crawford and Pamela Anderson were wearing similar looks.

Cindy Crawford is still known globally for her stunning eyelashes. Image credit: kathclick/

Improved Lash Techniques and Engineering from the East

Moving forward a little further to modern day, where the likes of Kim Kardashian and other notable fashion icons and celebrities benefit from the sophisticated false lash engineering of Korea and Japan. There are now eyelash extensions available in various styles, colours and materials like polyester, synthetic silk and human hair.

What Does the Future Hold?

If history has proven anything about eyelash fashion, it’s that it is constantly shifting and evolving. From the chaste and powerful looks of Ancient Rome to the glamour of old-school Hollywood, through to the individualism of Madonna, eyelashes have remained a focal point in modern make-up. Many looks are made or broken by the styling of lashes.

So, what does the future hold for eyelash fashion? It could be that we already have a glimpse of what the next big thing in lashes will be. Given the increase of 5800% for searches on the net for LED lashes over just two years, between 2016 and 2018, eyelashes that literally light up your eyes could be the look we see adorned by celebrities and the masses in the not too distant future.

Image credit at the very top of the article: Starfrenzy/