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Victorian eyelash transplants: Use your own hair for eyelash extensions

There were worse things going on with and in cosmetics back in the Victorian Era
There were worse things going on with and in cosmetics back in the Victorian Era
The Style PA / Foter / CC BY-NC

Some of the things they are putting into cosmetics these days are enough to make your hair stand on end. However, according to a story reported by My Fox LA which was published on Feb. 6, there are so many damaging chemicals and cancer causing ingredients in today’s cosmetics. Speaking of this, this is nothing, compared to what they used in the past for hair extensions, cosmetics, and even eyelash extensions.

Recent years have had their share of hair-raising beauty treatments including fish pedicures, vajazzling and placenta facials but historic beauty treatments were just as bizarre as modern diabolical procedures. Some of these medical procedures read as if they came out of a Mary Shelley novel – Dr Frankenstein would be proud.

Fortunately, as far as we know, the materials used in the treatment were not procured from a graveyard in the middle of the night. The painful sounding method for lengthening the lashes, called Victorian eyelash extensions, appeared in the 1899 edition of The Dundee Courier. The headline read, “Irresistible Eyes May Be Had by Transplanting the Hair” and the article explains how the procedure removes hair from your head and sews it into your eyelids. Although it is from December 23, here is a news story about this bizarre, yet fascinating procedure.

The Quack Doctor, a book by Caroline Rance, explains the innovative cosmetic process. “An ordinary fine needle is threaded with a long hair, generally taken from the head of the person to be operated upon. The lower border of the eyelid is then thoroughly cleaned and, in order that the process may be as painless as possible rubbed with a solution of cocaine. The operator then, by a few skilful touches, runs his needle through the extreme edges of the eyelid between the epidermis… When this has been done, another length of hair is sewed through the lid until finally there are a dozen or more loops projecting. By this time the effect of the cocaine has been lost, and the operator is obliged to desist, and put off further ‘sewing of hair’ for another sitting.”

The turn of the century article concludes, “'Eyebrows are doctored in the same way, but there is not so much pain associated with the process as there is in transplanting eyelashes.” If men only knew the pain some women have to go through to keep looking beautiful. Fortunately, today women are smarter and government agencies a little more strict about beauty treatments. Although, some people could argue that there are still a number of Dr Frankenstein(s) in the cosmetic surgery business.

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