False eyelashes have been around for over a century, in one form or another. Fluttery, doll-like eyes (the better to bat coquettishly at prospective suitors) were the height of femininity and beauty going back as far as ancient Rome, when long and lustrous lashes were a sign of chastity and virtue. Roman women would line their eyes with kohl to create the appearance of eyelashes – a practice we continue to this day. These days, the technology of cosmetology has advanced so far that all you need is a swoop of magnetic eyeliner and a pair of magnetic lashes. No more suffering for beauty!
A Brief History of Lashes
In the 1800s, women started implanting lashes made of human hair into their eyelids with needles. Many women would pluck out their eyebrow hair, which they deemed undesirable, and upcycle them into makeshift eyelashes. A smooth, high forehead and thick, dramatic lashes were “the look” in those days, which is why most old portraits of those high-society women feature penciled in, overplucked brows.
In 1911, a woman named Anna Taylor created the first adhesive lash band, a rounded strip of fabric with tiny hairs attached. It was not widely used as a beauty tool, however, until the film industry grew and began to showcase actresses with impossibly long lashes, perfect for closeups on the silver screen. This really blew up in the 1940s, when they were popularized by starlets like Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe. Hollywood actresses swore by them, filling up hair salons where you could get a finger-wave perm and have your lashes done in one sitting. This resulted, predictably, in some criticism from men, both in good-natured ribbing and some pretty sexist columns written about how to properly discern whether a “fair young thing” was as “natural” a beauty as she appeared. In the 1960s, the mod aesthetic demanded an even more bold, dramatic lash, and women started wearing them on their lower lids as well.
The very first magnetic lashes were patented in 2014, creating an alternative option for adhesive bands. Tiny, miniscule magnets on the band of one lash set would affix to the tiny, miniscule magnets on the band of the other lash set, with the natural lashes sandwiched between keeping them both up. This was a revolutionary product as it made applying falsies on the go super easy with no mess whatsoever, and no danger of lash loss from glue.
They were the brainchild of One Two Lash founder Katy Stoka, a graduate of Marquette University, who found herself asking the question: “Why can’t [false lashes] be an accessory, like a watch?” And so, armed with the desire for foolproof falsies and several different strips of magnetic and paramagnetic materials from her local hardware store, Katy began a year of pitching and promoting her new wonder product. The lack of adhesive also meant the lashes could be washed and worn multiple times – just like an accessory – which meant they fetched a higher price than your average drugstore lashes but were worth it. And there you have it – clip-on lashes, with no salon visit or sticky glue required. As easy as putting on a pair of earrings.
The Latest Thing in Lashwear
In the years following the invention of magnetic lashes, which many lash companies began offering in addition to their usual inventory, cosmetologists and product developers began to ask themselves how to make it even better. There was some concern that daily wearing of magnetic eyelashes might eventually cause eyelids to droop over time. Also, that those with short, fine eyelashes might not be able to hold the sandwiched lash sets together easily.
Laura Hunter, founder and CEO of Tori Belle Cosmetics, offered up a solution in 2018 with a Kickstarted patent on magnetic eyeliner that is becoming a popular beauty tool. How does it work? The formula is composed of iron oxides that paint smoothly onto the lash line like any eyeliner, but stick to magnetic lashes with no need for adhesive. You just shake it up to disperse the iron oxides evenly, apply as normal, and affix your lashes while the formula is still wet. No pulling at your natural lash, and no glue smudging your perfect wing.
What’s Next in Lashwear
The eyelash industry is continuously evolving with hot new trends, daring looks, and something for every eye shape and color. So experiment! Customize! Mix it up with new lengths, different colors – try a fantasy pink fringe or tiger striped wispies. Your entire aesthetic can change in just the blink of an eye.