I was not born beautiful, nor was I raised in a household that put value or emphasis on looks. I remember my mother had a beauty ritual that included Neutrogena bar soap, water and a towel. Soap up, rinse, dry off. She had one tiny pot of deep, brick colored rouge that sat atop her dresser. When she had a wedding, funeral or family pictures she would apply it hastily, in broad strokes then return it to the exact, dustless circle, where it would remain until the next family tragedy (yes-weddings and family pictures count as traditions that evoke tears, fights and sometimes dead bodies). Growing up, when all the girls were getting into make-up, I was getting lessons on why I was named for the first published feminist writer, or attending protest rally “sign decorating parties” as opposed to face decorating lessons.
It was my childhood filled with these “beauty” gaps that lead me to the world of lashes. To this day I cannot apply a full face of make-up. My blush always appears clownish, my lids are never properly blended, my foundation is generally two shades off, and I’m still not sure if concealer goes on after or before everything else. I can’t draw a straight line on paper-why could I possibly do it on my quivery eye? Just because I have not mastered the art of make-up does not mean I do not appreciate it. In my late teens I met a gay man who decided to take me on as his project. He would do my hair, “beat” my face mercilessly, try to bring me to my full 5’10 frame and give me tips on what the people outside of Sacramento (my hometown) were wearing. While I could not, and still can’t hold the Minnie Mouse coffee cup he kept his brushes in, I can appreciate a contoured nose, a properly done smokey eye, hollowing of cheeks. I loved the way I looked “made up” and others did too.
I’ve long since left the bathrooms of my childhood home that were used strictly for relief of bodily functions and not perfecting the female face. I’ve also lost ties with the man who introduced me to the world of beauty but I have not lost my yearn to look “made up” without actually having to apply make-up. And this leads me to lashes. Wonderful, wonderful, lashes. High heels, a perfectly made mojito and a great set of lashes belong in the same category-things that make you happy and feel beautiful-and sometimes miserable at the end of night. Which is why I am here to discuss them with you-as lashes are the quickest way to an evolved face without having to have a degree from Estee Lauder.
Semi Permanent extensions- These are awesome and what I rock daily! I pay my lash lady like I pay the light bill! I get them done once a month-although they will tell you they can stay on for 2-3 months-they sometimes fail to mention that you will need a touch up. You can swim, sweat, and have sex with them on and have no worries of them coming off! I don’t put mascara on mine, but it is perfectly acceptable and safe to do so!
Pitfalls: Semi permanent lashes can be a little pricey. The first set ranges from $150.00 to $400.00. Touchups can be anywhere from $50.00 to $100.00. Also, beware of uncertified people! Nova Lash and Xtreme lashes are the most popular. Find people who have attended their classes as they get the product directly from them. Other places, nail salons, alleyways, night club bathrooms, have been known to use hair weave glue which can blind you! Another caveat is they aren’t great if you have allergies or sinus problems.
Strip lashes: You have seen these fluttering beauties wink and seduce you from the aisles of drugstores, department stores, and dollar stores. They come in pairs and are one thin strip of lashes. The colors vary from the mundane, “off to work” or the ready for Vegas or a pole-or both! Recently I saw a pair that mimicked old lace patterns, it was as if your eyes had a sexy see thru veil.
These are best self-applied, by a steady, sober hand. Some come with glue, others you have to buy separately. Their prices range from $1.00 to $20.00. They are one time wear-try to make it last and they will pop off at the most unfortunate times. And never leave them on your bathroom counter after a night of going out-I guarantee the next day they will scare the morning coffee out of you!
Pitfalls: You sometimes have to have an artist’s eye or be an architect to get them on straight before the glue becomes overly tacky. They have lash holders, that look similar to a lash curler-they are supposed to help keep the lash steady as you adhere it to your lash line. Some designs look very fake therefore careful selection is a must. They can take you from Princess Kate to Madame Drag Queen.
Individual temporary lashes: These can also be found in the beauty section of a variety of stores. These are cousins to the temporary strip lashes only these are “bunches” of lashes. Each bunch has 3-4 lashes bundled together. They are meant to be applied to the top of the natural lash, then continue across. Again, a steady hand is needed, and patience. These suckers can slip, get lost, get glued to your ear, etc.
Pitfalls: The price on these are in the same range as the strip lashes but these take longer, and are more difficult to apply. Not for a beginner.
Latisse (and other chemicals that promote eyelash growth): These came on the market 10 years ago. It promises longer, fuller lashes in months, if used consistently and frequently. It is a chemical that is applied to the lash line nightly. If used correctly it does work. The price is around 150.00 per .5 ounce bottle which can last 4-6 weeks.
Pitfalls: Latisse can only be found at a doctor’s office or medical spa. It can be pricey, and the results will go away if you stop using it. My personal experience was the product worked, a little too well, as I had a fine fur growing on my upper cheeks. This side effect is quickly mentioned as a possibility. Once I stopped using the product my furry chipmunk cheeks went away. Results typically take 8-16 weeks to show.
If eyes are windows to the soul then lashes are window dressings designed to highlight, entice and show off the eyes. If you are one of the lucky souls who only need a swipe of mascara on your full, natural, thick lashes then promptly ignore the above BUT if you are one of the weak lashed souls who need plumping and lengthening then we have options. Which option is best for you is a journey you must seek out yourself based on your beauty routines and needs. Be it a bar of Neutrogena or a face full of Laura Mercier, you will be the deciding factor on what your windows say about it.