Length matters. Well I’m sorry but it does. And even more so if you’ve never had it. Mark my words.
As my gorgeous Indian friend pointed out, this is “not necessarily a worry for the Indian women”. Hilarious, and lucky you if that applies. However, for many of us, the issue can be quite critical!
I’m talking about eyelashes of course.
I have written previously about my shortfallings in the lash department. And in as much as I am not a fan of falsifying ourselves in order to achieve an ‘ideal’, for me it really felt like time to do something about the short and stubbies, not only because I don’t particularly like the look of them or enjoy feeling a bit grotty about them when surrounded by fabulashes everywhere (due to either genetics or see below), but because of the harsh treatment I was subjecting my eyes and eyelashes through…. spoon, eyelash curler, followed by waterproof mascara to help keep the curl in, and then the removal of all, and this has been going on for eons. I wish I had thought about that aspect of it sooner because I have probably contributed to the aging of the skin around my eyes through all the curling and product and getting rid of said product. If you go back and read the post, you’ll find out that the previous regime was a serious one, and I even lost a few lashes along the way. Not good. Not smart. I have also lost my lashes during a couple of times of immense stress, and so for me having lovely long eyelashes would be a real treat.
I have tried other ‘remedies’. Eyelash enhancing serums are everywhere.
Latisse was the first one. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a product that appears to make eyelashes and eyebrow hairs grow…it’s active ingredient is 0.03% bimatoprost, a drug whose actual chemical name is (Z)-7-[(1R,2R,3R,5S)-3,5-Dihydroxy-2-[(1E,3S)-3-hydroxy-5-phenyl-1-pentenyl]cyclopentyl]-5-N-ethylheptenamide. Too much information, thank you Wikipedia. This ingredient is used for treating glaucoma and ophthalmologists started to notice that when their patients used this medication in the form of eye drops, their eyelashes grew longer, darker, fuller. (Kind of like Truly, Madly, Deeply but doesn’t make you cry). And so a new cosmetic product was born.
Latisse is only available by prescription in the US and Canada, but there are many products available at the drug store; RapidLash, NaturaLAsh, LashPump, Lashiq and MetaLash to name a few, even L’Oreal now makes one for a fraction of the price. I’ve seen people who have great results from these serums (and some who won’t admit that they use them!) which are applied nightly to the very base of the lash line and/or brow area with a very tiny eyeliner brush applicator , to promote hair growth. Warning! if not applied correctly, or if they travel around at night, they can cause lashes to grow in weird places. I have seen lashes sprout in the very inner corners of the eyes, and on the top of cheekbones even! This is a dead giveaway that someone is using an enhancing serum. Not all that attractive. All of these serums work by extending the life of the lash, i.e., they don’t fall out as they would normally, so appear to grow and grow. Whether they make your lashes fuller and darker is debatable. They will certainly not make light lashes dark and I don’t think they make straight lashes curl. That is all genetic. The lashes will eventually come to the end of a cycle, and fall out in around 4-6months. Once you stop using it, your lashes will return to normal.
Buyer Beware: A serious but rarely-occurring side effect with Latisse and other serums is that it can increase blood flow to the eye, making capillaries (the red in reddened eyes) look far more pronounced and can also darken the eyelid or skin under the eye, which can be reversible but in rare cases may stick around indefinitely. Another risk is Latisse use may also cause increased brown pigmentation of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, and this color change is likely to be permanent. The FDA warned that potential side effects could also include bacterial infection, allergic reaction, and excessive hair growth outside the intended treatment area.
I have never used Latisse but have tried RapidLASH and found that:
- my lashes did grow, but they didn’t curl and I didn’t get more than I already had. So basically, a longer, straight and pale lash.
- I got some strange discolouration on the skin on my eyelid, close to the lash line where I applied the serum, almost like a bruising and definitely not a good look.
- I got a slight swelling on the eyelid and once or twice actual pain and discomfort in the eye itself. The product can travel around easily at night so that’s maybe what happened.
- I stopped using it, and resigned myself to genetics once again.
Back to the drawing board.
There are false eyelashes. I am not a fan of strip lashes unless used on someone else or on myself for a very good reason, like a 60’s inspired makeup. I do not like that black band that comes with them and gives a heavy liner look. For everyday I mean.
I like individual lashes much better, because there is more control over the shape and length you can create. Personally I need my lashes all in the middle which is a more 70’s look and suits my eye shape better… strip lashes invariable have that flip at the end which drives me insane and doesn’t look decent on anyone past 30. So individual lashes were an option, and one that I used frequently, but really, who has an extra 30 minutes to get ready in the morning? Plus there is removal and dealing with latex glue every day. Also a bugger to do on yourself – much easier to do on somebody else or to get someone else to apply on you. The good news is that they do come in brown and a variety of lengths so I could look better, but not like a d…head. If you do use individual lashes, make sure to get knot-free ones.
There are lots of lash primers around and even fibres to attach to wet mascara gel to add fullness and length. Tried these but the primers just make the stubby lashes stubbier and the fibres really irritated my eyes and drove me crazy. It was like walking into a cloud of very fine dust particles and having a bunch of them settle in your eyes. Not for me. On top of having short lashes I am eye sensitive and always affected by dust, hay fever and other allergens. Woohoo! There is one that’s made from green tea leaves. Sounded interesting, but I decided on a different option…
After quite a lot of thinking about it and asking lots of questions of friends to find a really good technician, I decided to have a go at lash extensions.
Lash extensions are coming soon to a town near you. Once only existing in the Hollywood (not Bollywood, according to my friend!) domain, they are now everywhere and an option for almost everyone who wants to try them. Do make sure you get a recommendation from someone who is happy with theirs. I’ve seem some bad botch-ups. Not necessarily dependent on price either.
On the day of the appointment I was a bit giddy! I was really looking forward to a transformation and had been quite specific (no, not picky, I am always a good customer) about what I was after, the general effect. Polina, who did them, was really receptive to my questions and understood what I needed, and she came highly recommended. Always make sure you get a recommendation for these types of things. I went with makeup on, not actually thinking about whether I should have worn it or not. Not a huge problem, but could have saved 10 minutes of the technician’s time if I had foregone it. Anyway, you lie down on a comfy treatment bed, same as most beauty appointments and she places a protective pad over the bottom lashes, so once you close your eyes, the top lashes are exposed and sit on top of that pad, for her to work on.
The process itself is much more relaxing than I was expecting. She worked for well over and hour, it’s not at all uncomfortable, lots of brushing with minuscule brushes and maybe a tiny bit of pulling now and again but that’s it. I was more than happy to put my feet up for that time.
We chatted a bit as the appointment went about it’s business. I, as usual, asking lots of questions. I do this because I am genuinely interested in how things work and where they come from.
DID YOU KNOW….?
- Lash extensions are a manmade material from Korea, called PBT. Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) is a thermoplastic engineering polymer that is used as an insulator in the electrical and electronics industries. Blimey!
- You cannot use them if you have an allergy to Synthetic Cyano Acrylate, the glue to apply them (would you even know if you did?). In any case she said if there’s any sign of an allergic reaction, go back to have them removed.
- You cannot use them if you have trichotillomania (pulling out your own eyelashes and eyebrows. Perish the thought).
- You cannot use them if you have alopecia.
- Sadly they cannot be used after chemotherapy until eyelash hair grows back, because they need something to attach to. They could be such a morale booster I think for anyone recovering from chemotherapy and it’s resultant hair loss.
- Once you have extensions, you shouldn’t get them wet for 24 hours. To establish the adhesive bond. After that you can go unfettered to hot yoga, the gym, swimming, showering, whatever you need to do. Go about your daily life without thinking about them.
- You should only use water-based eye makeup removers. Any oil based products can loosen the lashes. If you have to shake your remover to mix it up, it’s no good. Polina recommended the Misencil line of products.
- You can use, if you think it’s necessary, a water based mascara. There are a few of these out there, the best known is Great Lash by Maybelline. Do NOT use a tube-coating mascara, such as Blink, because it will attach itself to the lash and you won’t be able to remove it.
- You should keep your eyes and eyelashes as clean as possible to extend the life of the lash and avoid bacterial infections. Polina recommended the Misencil line of products and a tiny fan brush to clean them. Drug store lid cleansers are also good for eyelid health and very gently. DO NOT use cotton Q-Tips on the lash extensions.
- The lashes will last as long as the single hair it’s attached to lives, which is about 40-45 days.
- Lashes can be “filled” every 2-4 weeks, or when there’s about half of them left. Polina said I would know when I needed to go back.
One week later and I am very happy with the lash extensions. For me they seem to be a great solution. I asked for a natural look, so they are not the longest or the most glam, which is not my look at all and I love them. I have lost a few along the way, still sleep with my eye mask (that is non-negotiable) and once whilst driving, a top one and a bottom one got entangled and stuck together. That will probably only happen to me, and none of you! What I like about them is that I don’t have to deal with all that removal. I comb them in the morning with a mini brush and that seems to be the only upkeep. I have worn mascara on them for the first time tonight, just for some extra oomph, so I will see how clean up goes. The money I spent on the extensions, I will now save on Bifacil, lash serums and individual lashes. In any case the extensions did not seem expensive for the effect I got and the salon had a special offer for January, CDN$70 for a full, mixed set of extensions.
I like that this innovation offers a beauty solution to all kinds of people for all kinds of reasons. My friend’s mum recently had them and felt marvellous afterwards. Polina’s clients cover the age and economic spectrum. Maybe you want them for a special occasion only, which is great because they just go away on their own.
I do think makeup and beauty innovations should be used to bring out our best selves and our confidence, not to disguise us, or to turn us into a version of someone else’s idea of beautiful. Do it for yourself or not at all is my motto.
Polina Voiler is the owner of The Beauty Corner in Vancouver.
P.S Two months later and I am still happy that I got the extensions. I go for ‘fills” every 2-3 weeks so there is a financial commitment but for me at this time its the right thing to do.
P.P.S A year to the day this was first published, and I am still going for lash extensions and in the summer even tried a tint and perm a week before getting extensions. I had good lashes all summer. There’s something I just purchased to extend the shelf-life of my extensions…no it is not a bra I’m wearing on my head! It’s a Bucky Sleepmask….
…because sleep masks are essential to my sleep routine these days. This one is contoured to protect long lashes, and really stays put.