We used to think of eyelashes as little more than lid fringe, hairy
filters useful for batting dust and particles away from our precious
But our perspective has changed in the blink of an eye.
Well, actually, it was closer to an hour. That's how long it took
esthetician Samantha Buel to adhere 12 black, synthetic,
spider-leg-like extensions to her client's right eyelashes, convincing
us that lashes are the new beauty frontier. Perfect brows? So last
year. Full lips? Kiss off! It's all about lashes -- the longer, the
thicker, the better -- and women are going to new lengths to achieve
the look. The 3D-Lashes procedure performed by Buel at Jennifer's Spa
in downtown Portland takes about two hours for two eyes, lasts about
two months and costs $200.
So why do women want Bambi eyes?
our love of makeup on genetic makeup. Our desire to look beautiful may
be a survival thing. Experts who study these things, such as professor
David Perrett of St. Andrews University in Scotland, are discovering
that the definition of facial attractiveness is universal. Whether
Asian, African or European, people tend to find feminine features --
wide-set eyes, full lips, raised eyebrows -- desirable in women. These
features are most often associated with youthfulness, health and
fertility -- essential for keeping the human race in the race. (In men,
a strong jaw line, indicating a lot of testosterone, is considered
It's not a new desire. In ancient Egypt and India, men
and women lined their eyes with black kohl, akin to modern eyeliner. It
may have been to ward off the curse of the evil eye, to protect eyes
from the glaring sun -- football and baseball players still do it,
albeit less glamorously -- or simply to enhance their looks.
have been batting goopy lashes since 1913, when a chemist came up with
a Vaseline-and-coal-dust concoction for his sister, eventually refining
and selling it as Maybelline, according to that company's Web site. But
for some, temporary color wasn't enough. Permanent lash dyes caused the
death of one woman and blindness in another and were prohibited for
sale by the Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act of 1938. The Food and Drug
Administration reissued its warning against permanent dyes for lashes
and brows in 2001, but sales persist.
In the '60s, women glued on
doll-like false lashes for the day. Twiggy, Cher and Liza Minnelli wore
lashes so long, it was a wonder they managed to keep their eyes open.
By the time tearful televangelist Tammy Faye Bakker became a font of
running mascara in the '80s, fake lashes were mostly worn by drag
queens and Halloween tricksters.
In the late '90s, stylists made up
models with pale, powdery lashes. The barer-than-bare look never became
popular, but it was proof that the eyelash pendulum had swung as far as
it could go.
Today, big lashes are up to bat once again.
years ago, new-and-improved false eyelashes hit the market. Instead of
the hairs lined up on a sticky strip the length of the entire lid, tiny
bits can be applied in pieces for a more natural look. Shopping.msn.com
lists 198 products just to curl lashes, including portable,
battery-operated, heated curlers for the big-eyed girl-on-the-go. Other
sites offer home perm kits -- yes, perms -- for lashes.
There's more. Dr. Jeffrey M. Ahn, an assistant professor at Columbia
University, offers eyelash transplants. The surgeon takes a hairy skin
graft from the back of the patient's neck and stitches it onto the
eyelids, one hair at a time. The procedure, which takes about one hour,
is done under local anesthetic. The downfall? The new lashes need to be
trimmed regularly: They grow too long.