October 29, 2005 Los Angeles Times
Beauty technology gets an update as eyelash architecture enters a skyscraper era.
By Valli Herman, Times Staff Writer
SCAN the celebrity tabloids, flip on daytime TV or even the national news and you'll see them. Amid the amazingly ample breasts, the unlined foreheads and the full lips are sets of long, dense, fluttery eyelashes.
(Christine Cotter / LAT)
And at last, top makeup artists are coming clean about how they make the stars' eyes shine so bright. "False eyelashes are the best-kept secret in makeup," said Vincent Longo. "I've been doing lashes for 22 years, and I don't think false lashes have ever left my kit."
Lash extensions are creating the most buzz. In the painstaking, two-hour process, a technician glues about two dozen individual, artificial lashes onto each eyelid's natural lashes, one by one by one. (If the technician is careless, the glue can catch a clump of lashes; see story, Page 24.) The service is becoming popular nationwide. Locally, it can cost $150 in a Pasadena nail parlor, $250 in a Beverly Hills hair salon or $45 in a Beverly Boulevard permanent makeup boutique. Some practitioners say the single lashes are an aesthetic improvement over the three-lash, semi-permanent lashes that have been around for 30 years or more and that cost less than $10 at a drugstore.
Unlike mascara or false eyelashes, the new extensions can remain in place for four to six weeks. The investment of time and money makes eyelash extensions an option for women who want round-the-clock, low-maintenance glamour.
Never mind the time and expense of upkeep, with refills at $35 to $100. Eyelash extensions are becoming so popular that an Orange County extensions-only salon called Luscious Lashes opened four months ago in Laguna Niguel.
"We live and breathe lash extensions," said owner Sheri Mansur,who charges $175 for a full set; $35 for refills.
Still, mascara remains the top choice for enhancing lashes. There are more mascara varieties than ever — thickening, lengthening, curling, volumizing, nourishing, stretching, push-up, padded, whatever. Mintel's Global New Products Database counted 176 new eyelash enhancement products, mostly mascara, that were released last year, up from just 48 in 2002.
Though some mascaras may achieve a Tammy Faye-meets-Twiggy blackness, most women aim to look natural, said David Woolf, vice president of sales for American International Industries in Commerce, parent company to Ardell and Andrea brands and the country's largest manufacturer of false eyelashes.
"I call them a prosthetic cosmetic," said Woolf. "They don't want to be seen without them." As a result, once a woman adopts false eyelashes, she's likely to stick like glue to one particular style. False eyelash strips, if carefully handled and kept clean and free of mascara, can last indefinitely, according to Woolf. Further, the latex-based glues for false eyelashes have a long safety record, according to the state Department of Health.
To make that first, crucial experience with false eyelashes easier, American International created $5.49 starter kits for their brands that include adhesive, a moderate style of lashes and an eyelid-wide applicator that looks like an overgrown tweezer.
October is a crucial time of year for the false eyelash industry. Among the many women who don a pair of purple glitter lashes for Halloween, one or two may convert to daily wear — of something somewhat tamer. But unlike years past, when false eyelashes were sold mainly in drug or grocery stores, lash neophytes now are getting application help at upscale department stores.
As false eyelashes gradually shed their tarty image, cosmetics companies such as M.A.C, Shu Uemura and Vincent Longo have begun offering false eyelashes at Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York or their own tony boutiques, training the sales staff in application techniques.
Makeup artists at M.A.C counters and boutiques teach customers how to trim lashes to fit their eyelids and demonstrate how to blend eyeliner to conceal the lash band (use a very thin brush and apply fast-drying eyeliner or shadow).
Gregory Arlt, director of makeup artistry for M.A.C, prefers his foolproof method to apply false eyelashes: Apply mascara to curled, natural lashes, then run the trimmed-to-fit false lashes through a dot of lash adhesive and let it dry until it's tacky, about 30 seconds. Apply the lash close to the base of your natural lashes, pinch the natural and false lashes to mesh them together, and — presto! Sex appeal!
Professional makeup artists such as Arlt and Longo routinely apply the lashes on celebrity clients and models. Behind the scenes, cosmetics companies are pushing the idea. The Bobbi Brown company sent Soul Lee, the in-house lash and brow artist, to work with celebrities at the Oscars in February. Houston-based Novalash Inc., an eyelash extension manufacturer, set up a lash studio before the recent Emmy Awards. The fat-lash look gets momentum every time one of the new starlets bats her butterflies before the cameras. (Maybe they're like built-in sunglasses and deflect the glare?)
When Longo included false eyelashes in his namesake makeup collection, it was as if he gave his and high fashion's blessing to the art of enhanced lashes. Now his line features a popular $14 pair of demi lashes that are about a third of the eyelid's length and a $16 demi lash curler to upturn just the outer lashes (to avoid that startled look).
With just a touch of false eyelashes at the outer edges, lashes look more convincingly natural. But if the fat lash trend gains more momentum, natural may not be the point much longer. Any minute now, it will be perfectly natural to wear lashes that look fake just for fake's sake.
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Run your eyes over the options
Mascara Cost: $2.99 to $25 a tube
Ease of application: Just a wave of the wand; wipe brush on tissue to prevent clumps.
Durability: About eight hours, though water-soluble can flake off within hours and waterproof can feel stiff.
Best bets: Top mass-market sellers are Max Factor's Stretch and Separate and Maybelline's Sky High Curves, each about $6.99. M.A.C Zoomlash gets them good and dark, long and distinct, $10.
Sex appeal: Like the high-heeled shoe — commonplace, but killer in the right context.
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