Many women are obsessed with their hair — the hair on their heads, the hair in their armpits, and even the pesky stragglers above their upper lips. Hair is big business, and the scope of beauty products and services that cater to it is constantly expanding. The latest craze sending women into a hair frenzy is eyelash enhancement products.
For $20, women can now dye their eyelashes. For considerably more, they can purchase serums that are said to enhance eyelash growth. If that doesn’t work — or isn’t quite enough — women can even pay to have individual eyelashes glued to their eyelids.
“Eyelashes have been the in thing for the last five years,” says Jamie Javorksy, an aesthetician at Shear Illusions Salon. “It was a big deal for a minute, but now I guess it’s settled in.”
Away from the clickety-clack of high heels and smell of nail polish, Javorksy relaxes at the back of the salon. Her long dark hair and lengthy dark eyelashes are a furry force to be reckoned with.
“I have amazing eyelashes, and I have no makeup on,” she says, revealing her secret to be an eyelash enhancement serum. Products like Bamboo Lash, Li Lash and TriLash (in the $100-$140 range) claim to enhance the growth of eyelashes temporarily (when used for 10 to 12 weeks, once or twice daily along the lash line).
These at-home products are said to increase production until the eyelashes naturally fall out. If the product is used consistently, the new eyelashes will continue to grow back longer and stronger.
The only FDA-approved eyelash enhancer is Latisse, the subject of a television and print ad campaign with spokeswomen Brooke Shields and Claire Danes. Latisse technically requires a prescription, but it’s widely available online. It employs bimatoprost, an ingredient in eye drops used to treat glaucoma, to promote fuller, darker and longer lashes. Side effects can include eye irritation and darkening of the skin of the upper eyelid. (It is not recommended for use on lower lashes.) In studies, Latisse did not cause darkening of the iris when used as directed. When the compound was put in the eye as an eye drop, however, it did.
While many of Spokane’s aestheticians use eyelash-enhancing products themselves and sing their praises, beauty comes with a price. “Your eyes get a little irritated, but I’m vain and willing to get through it,” Javorksy says. “I love how my lashes look.”
According to Dianne Landreth, owner of Mirage Spa and Salon, eyelashes come and go in a cycle every four to six weeks. But as men and women age, growth slows. It becomes noticeable when women hit middle age, which is why that demographic category is the currently the largest seeking eyelash enhancement products and services. “Fuller eyelashes are what young girls have, and that’s the type of thing that diminishes with age,” Javorksy says. “Let’s face it, we’re all trying to look younger.”
Some women’s solutions won’t be found at the bottom of bottles. They’ll be in a tin can filled with thousands of fake eyelashes. Aestheticians like Landreth and Javorksy are certified to glue individual hairs along the lash line. During the procedure, the woman’s bottom lash is taped down to prevent gluing the eyelids completely shut.
Aestheticians comb out the eyelashes and, with tweezers, very carefully glue on the false lashes made of synthetic materials or real hair (mink). The eyelashes last three to four months, but, as with nail and hair extensions, they require routine maintenance. The service is time-consuming and expensive — it usually sets women back two hours and up to $200 — and faces mixed reviews among professionals.
“I paid $3,000 to be a certified eyelash extension instructor only to end up telling people it’s not a good idea,” Landreth says. “It requires expensive routine maintenance and can ruin your natural lashes.”
Landreth says the lashes are prone to clumping and falling out, often taking the real eyelashes with them.
But Jodi Hoffman, owner of Serendipity Boutique, doesn’t seem concerned. She’s in love with the extensions she’s consistently worn for year. The back of her boutique is home to Limitless Lashes, a space where Kaelyn Bingham has perfected the art of eyelash enhancement.
Bingham swears by the silk extensions she’s specialized in for more than two years. With regular upkeep and fills — generally every two to four weeks — Bingham’s brides, prom queens and school teachers have walked away satisfied with the results.
“Once you get the lashes on, you’re hooked,” Hoffman says. “You can literally get out of bed and your eyes pop. They’re beautiful. You can run to the gym and the grocery store without a second thought. You can look done up without all the extra effort.”