a story from The Dundee Courier, 6 July 1899

If your eyes are unattractive you may make them irresistible by transplanting the hair. Transplanted eyelashes and eyebrows are the latest things in the way of personal adornment.

There are specialists who make a handsome living out of the process of transplanting hair from the head to the eyebrows or eyelashes. The specialist works by putting in, not on, the new eyelashes and brows wherever they are absent or grow thin, and so cunning is he in his work that not even the closest scrutiny can detect any difference.

By means of the new process, it is said, eyes which are at ordinary times only passable become languishing in their expression, while eyes which were previously considered fine have their beauty much enhanced.

This is the way new eyelashes are put in:–

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 and the lower border of the cartilage of the tragus. The needle passes in and out along the edge of the lid leaving its hair thread in loops of carefully graduated length.

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 next step in the process is cutting off and trimming the ends of the loops, and the result is a fine, thick, long set of eyelashes. It is the finishing touch, that is to come, that makes them look like nature’s own. When they are at first cut they stick out in the most singular fashion, giving the person operated upon the most uncanny look. The operator’s next step is to take curling tongs, made of silver, and no larger than knitting needles, and to give them the curve which is essential to perfect beauty. Then the eyes are carefully bandaged, and kept so until the following day.

Most of the hairs that have been transplanted take root and grow, but a few of them fall out, and have to be attended to. For the first month it is necessary to curl the new eyelashes every day, but after that they become properly assimilated, and it is not necessary to give them any further attention.

Eyebrows are doctored in the same way, but there is not so much pain associated with the process as there is in transplanting eyelashes.

 What the Apothecary Ordered. Buy now!

In the 21st century, eyelash transplants have resurfaced as a beauty procedure, but even at the time of this excerpt, the supposed fad had been around for almost two decades, if not longer.

Tales of eyelash transplants in Britain seem to have been spawned by an 1882 news snippet by Henry Labouchere in Truth, which referred to the popularity of this procedure among Parisian beauties. Well into the 20th century, the story kept popping up as a curious example of the ‘worship of beauty’ and the pain women’s vanity would induce them to endure. The stories, however, contained no reference to identifiable practitioners, or any individual accounts of undergoing the operation. I would love to find an advert for a Victorian beauty doctor offering this service – I’d better keep my passable eyes open and will report back if anything turns up!




Comments are closed.