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Applying extensions to the eyelashes is a practice that enhances the length, thickness, and fullness of natural eyelashes. The extensions may consist of silk, mink, synthetic hair, or human hair. The main method of applying eyelash extensions is individually adhering them to the lash line one-by-one because it prevents the lashes from sticking together. False eyelashes and eyelash extensions are not the same.
In 1879, James D. McCabe wrote the book The National Encyclopædia of Business and Social Forms; in the section "Laws of Ettiquete," he stated that eyelashes can be lengthened by cutting the extreme ends with a pair of scissors. Other beauty books, such as My Lady's Dressing Room (1892) by Baronne Staffe and Beauty's Aids or How to be Beautiful (1901) by Countess C also state that the trimming of eyelashes along with the use of the pomade Trikogene promote eyelash growth. Countess C also suggested that eyelashes can be given length and strength by washing them every evening with a concoction of water and walnut leaves.
In 1882, Henry Labouchère of Truth reported that the "Parisians have found out how to make false eyelashes" by having hair sewn into the eyelids. A similar report appeared in the 6 July 1899 edition of The Dundee Courier which described the painful sounding method for lengthening the lashes. The headline read, "Irresistible Eyes May Be Had by Transplanting the Hair." The article explained how the procedure achieved longer lashes by having hair from the head sewn into the eyelids.
In 1902, German-born hair specialist and noted inventor Charles Nessler (aka Karl Nessler or Charles Nestle) patented "A New or Improved Method of and Means for the Manufacture of Artificial Eyebrows, Eyelashes and the like" in the United Kingdom. By 1903, he began selling artificial eyelashes at his London salon on Great Castle Street. He used the profits from his sales to fund his next invention, the permanent wave machine. In 1911, a Canadian woman named Anna Taylor patented false eyelashes in the United States.
In 1916, while making his film Intolerance, director D.W. Griffith wanted actress Seena Owen to have lashes "that brushed her cheeks, to make her eyes shine larger than life." These false eyelashes were made of human hair woven through fine gauze by a local wig maker. They were then attached to Owen's eyes.
Types of lashes
Although false eyelashes and eyelash extensions both enhance the length of eyelashes, they differ in various ways. Furthermore, false eyelashes and eyelash extensions are also referred to as temporary false lashes and semi-permanent lashes, respectively.
Temporary false lashes
Temporary false lashes are any lashes designed to be worn for a short period of 1–2 days. They can be made with a variety of materials and are not designed to be worn when showering, sleeping or swimming. They are applied with lash glue designed specifically for temporary lashes; the technique is called one-by one-application.
Semi-permanent lashes, also known as individual eyelash extensions, are eyelashes applied with an FDA approved adhesive with a stronger bond. The adhesive for lash extensions consists mainly of cyanoacrylate. There are various types of cyanoacrylates including ethyl, methyl, butyl, octyl, and more. Different types of cyanoacrylates are designed for bonding to different surfaces. For example, lash adhesives are made from methyl-2-cyanoacrylate which is designed to bond a smooth surface (the eyelash extension) to a porous surface (the natural eyelash). Lash adhesive (methyl-2-cyanoacrylate) is designed to be used around the eyes and on the natural lashes, this is to ensure that it doesn't touch the skin as it may cause irritation. All cyanoacrylate adhesives are made using the same properties and ingredients found in medical-grade adhesives.
Eyelash extensions are waterproof and give the appearance of having mascara on without the messy clumps and smudging of makeup. Generally, a single lash is applied to each natural lash. When applied properly, neither the extension lash nor the glue should touch the eyelid. The bond is designed to last until the lashes naturally fall out. Eyelash extensions create lashes that remain on for approximately 3–4 weeks with their natural growth and shedding cycle. However, the extensions may fall out faster if oil-based eye makeup remover is used, as oil weakens the bond between the glue and the lash. Moreover, rubbing one's eyes regularly also causes the extensions to fall out faster. To maintain one's lashes, one should avoid rubbing their eyes, or wearing any mascara. Instead, one should use oil-free make up removal wipes, and eyelid cleanser. To keep the eyelashes full, they must be refilled bi-monthly.
Eyelash extensions come in various types, lengths, colors, curves and thicknesses, from natural-looking, to glamorous, as well as dramatic.
In the United States, eyelash extension services can range from $100 to $500, depending on:
- The type and number of lashes used
- The skill level of the cosmetician
- The venue where the extensions are applied
It usually takes one to two hours to attach a full, new set. An average person might have anywhere from thirty to eighty lashes per eye. The variance in the number of lashes accounts for the difference in how long it takes to apply them. Eyelash extensions usually last around 3–4 weeks, after which they start falling out or thinning. Maintaining a full set of lashes requires a refill service approximately every 3–4 weeks.
Negative impact of wearing eyelash extensions
Dr. Rick Fraunfelder at OHSU’s Casey Eye Institute says the lashes are not sterile, and the poly-nylon blend ones especially can lead to infections. Fraunfelder maintains that spaces in the fibers allow bacteria to reside because the wet and warm environment of eyelash margin favors bacteria. Using eyelash extension with a glue that is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may cause an allergic reaction, either locally or body-wide. Fraunfelder claims that people could lose their real eyelashes permanently due to the improper pull of the eyelash extension, and there could be eyelash dropout over time from chronic use. However, other sources in rebuttal state that eyelashes themselves are not sterile, and allergic reactions to the glue (which is not applied to the skin itself) are rare.
Training and certification
Professionals trained in Lash Artistry go by various titles including "Lash Technicians", "Lash Artists", and "Lash Stylists". There are various companies that provide training and certification for potential Eyelash Extensions Technicians.
In the UK, the Guild of Professional Beauty Therapists accredit courses for the safe application of semi-permanent individual eyelash extensions. The value of the course content can be judged by the number of CPD (Continued Professional Development) points that the course is awarded.
- Baronne Staffe with introduction and additions by Harriett Hubbard Ayer (1892). My Lady's Dressing Room. New York: Cassell Publishing Company.
- The Countess C-- (1901). Beauty's Aids or How to be Beautiful. Boston: L.C. Page & Company. pp. 97–98.
- George Frederick Shrady and Thomas Lathrop Stedman (1882). Medical Record, Volume 22. p. 252.
- "IRRESISTIBLE EYES MAY BE HAD BY TRANSPLANTING THE HAIR.". The Dundee Courier. The Quack Doctor. 6 July 1899.
- A New or Improved Method of and Means for the Manufacture of Artificial Eyebrows, Eyelashes and the like. British patent GB000190218723A, submitted August 26, 1902, approved November 6, 1902.
- Williams, Neville (1957). Powder and Paint: A History of the Englishwoman's Toilet, Elizabeth I--Elizabeth II.
- "Art Eyelashes". Nashua Daily Telegraph. July 14, 1903. p. 3.
- "Hair Waving Machine is 50 Years Old". The Milwaukee Sentinel. September 21, 1934. p. 11.
- "Beauty Boon Has Made Many Changes in 50 Years". Rome News Tribune. p. 28.
- ARTIFICIAL EYELASH. Anna Taylor, Ottawa. Ontario. Canada. Serial No. 607,810. US994619. Filed February 10, 1911.
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