Eyelash curling doesn’t seem to have been a big concern for women before the rise of the moving picture. Stage actresses darkened their lashes and brows with burnt cork and greasepaint, but those looks were designed to be seen from afar.
Hollywood changed all that – movie stars were getting closeups on the big screen, with every detail exposed. As makeup departments labored over screen tests and iconic looks for their actors, inventors worked at ways to help women recreate the perfection they saw on the screen.
The first patent for an eyelash curler was granted in 1925, to Jorge Patino’s wide tweezer-style design. In 1929, an eyelash curler we would recognize today appears in the records, invented by C.W. Stickell (and others) of the Kurlash Company of Rochester, New York. The Kurlash Company continued to perfect their design, gaining at least a dozen patents for their designs.
But there were other contenders as well: Julia Grabowski created a curler based on a sewing thimble (and “cheap to manufacture” according to documentation.) And Ada Marcellus offered a version which would apply (or remove) mascara with the same device.
Here”s a gallery of various Eyelash Curler patent illustrations, courtesy of the United States Patent Collection:
If you went back in time, which eyelash curler would you use?