The Cosmetic Industry Takes An Eyelash Obsessed Culture To New Heights

Story by Alexandra Smith

Achieving longer lashes has become something of an obsession, and it now goes above and beyond the usual mascaras and eyelash curlers.

Women are going to extensive lengths to achieve gorgeous eyelashes, from trying every new mascara that hits the shelves to applying fake lashes every day to even paying for services that promise to curl, tint, and enhance lashes.

Various types of mascaras and brushes. Photo by Alexandra Smith

Eyelashes are getting increasingly longer and longer in Hollywood. And with beauty icons such as Twiggy and the late Elizabeth Taylor, it is no wonder long, luscious eyelashes have become the little black dress of the makeup world.

Not your typical mascara

Mascara has come a long way since the Bronze Age when women wanted to emphasize their eyelashes so that they would appear more feminine. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, they did this by applying kohl around their eyes.

Ever since 1917, when the first packaged cosmetic mascara was created, cosmetic companies have never seemed to run out of creative ideas when it comes to mascara.

There are many different types of mascaras to choose from, which can make choosing which to buy very difficult.

There are mascaras that darken, lengthen, and thicken lashes, as well as those that curl, condition, and soften lashes.

A timeline of events that led to the distribution of mascara and eyelash tools. From lovetoknow.com Timeline by Alexandra Smith

According to Amanda Bossom, a makeup artist at Sephora at the Mall of Louisiana, its not just the different types of mascaras becoming made available that keep women and young girls returning to the makeup aisles, it’s the way the cosmetic companies advertise their mascaras.

“Ad’s have a lot to do with what women come in to buy,” said Bossom. “Many people, especially young girls, don’t realize that the models in the mascara ads are wearing false eyelashes, so they buy the new mascara expecting to have the same results as the woman in the TV commercial or magazine.”

She believes mascara is the “determining factor of one’s overall look.”

“Mascara just brings your face together,” Bossom said. “After all the makeup is on, it’s the lashes that make your face ‘boom.’”

Size does matter

Since everyone’s eyelashes are unique cosmetic companies create different formulas and wands to accommodate every type of lash.

“Many customers don’t realize that, when using the right size brush, it’s their own lashes that determine what the mascara will do,” said Bossom.

According to Bossom, if someone already has long eyelashes they should use a big brush so that it is able to grab the eyelashes and make them look fuller. For those with shorter lashes, Bossom recommends using a thin brush.

The mascara brush types you use to apply them are actually what define the shape and contour that your lashes will take. Photo by Alexandra Smith

According to Glamour magazine’s “2010 Glammy Awards,” the best drugstore mascara, a six-time winner, is Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara, which costs around $6.50.

According to the magazine’s voters, this mascara lengthens and “plumps skimpy lashes without being clumpy.”

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To achieve a look of long and full eyelashes, Bossom suggests using a medium-to-thick lengthening formula and a brush with lots of bristles with tiny fibers that stick to and elongate lashes.

When it comes to the best department/specialty store mascara, Glamour readers picked Dior Diorshow Mascara, which costs $24.

Bossom agreed that Diorshow Mascara was one of the most popular mascaras at the store.

“The brush gives you super long lashes and great volume, to many, it’s worth the splurge,” she said.

Eyelash services

For those who see mascara as more trouble than it’s worth, there are options that allow them to cut back on the daily beauty routine.

Eyelash extensions are growing in popularity for those who want to increase the drama of their eyes without makeup.

“For women who are tired of applying mascara, or who are allergic, lash extensions are like the answer to their prayers,” said Marie Caraccioli, owner and operator of Carabella Facial Spa in Baton Rouge.

Carabella Facial Spa, located at 11920 Perkins Road, Ste. B, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Photos by Alexandra Smith

Caraccioli is a licensed Medical Esthetician, Instructor, Permanent Makeup Artist and Eyelash & Eyebrow Extension Expert. Beginning in 2005, she was the first person in Baton Rouge to offer eyelash extension services, and, as a result, quickly became known as the “Lash Lady.”

“I was bombarded by women of all ages to have their lashes done,” said Caraccioli. “Eyelash extensions are a safe and easy way to have longer, thicker, fuller, more defined, natural and weightless lashes!”

Although Caraccioli has clients of various ages, her most popular age group is businesswomen ages 35 to 50.

Because eyelash extensions are temporary, Caraccioli recommends her clients come in every two to three weeks for a maintenance fill-in.

“The extensions are single synthetic eyelashes attached one at a time to individual, natural lashes with a special glue,” she said. “The usual lash cycle is two months, so once the lash falls out so does the extension.”

The extensions Caraccioli uses are available in different lengths, colors and thickness. She offers them in B, C, D and J curls and lengths from six to 16 mm.

According to Caraccioli, the 10 mm, black, C or D curl is the most popular kind her clients use.

“It gives your lashes the look of two coats of mascara,” she said.

Caraccioli also offers eyelash tinting, which is designed to brighten eyes without mascara, and comes in a range of natural hair colors.

“Some get both the extensions and tint, it’s all about what makes them feel confident and beautiful,” she said.

Other options

Kortney Horn shows off her false eyelashes. Photo by Alexandra Smith

There are two other popular ways to get long eyelashes: Latisse and false eyelashes.

According to its website, Latisse is the “first and only FDA-approved treatment that grows lashes longer, fuller and darker.” And is available only to those with a prescription.

Since it’s difficult to apply lash extensions to oneself, even the Lash Lady uses Latisse.

Although Latisse has worked well for her, she believes that some of its side effects scare people away. Caraccioli said people with blue eyes are warned against using Latisse because it can turn their eyes brown.

According to the website, other side effects include eyelid skin darkening, itchy eyes and/or eye redness, and hair growth may occur in other skin areas that the product touches.

To some, the benefit does not seem worth the risks, so many look to the simple, disposable method of false eyelashes.

“I wouldn’t be comfortable putting a chemical that close to my eyes, especially after hearing the possible side effects,” said Kortney Horn, a recent graduate from LSU. “When I want to really emphasize my eyelashes and mascara is not enough, I can always use false eyelashes.”

In the past, false lashes had the reputation for looking too dramatic and noticeable. But today, there are a variety of looks and lengths that, when applied correctly, can appear as natural as wearing mascara or lash extensions.

“The traditional option has been to apply a false strip over our existing eyelashes, but a somewhat recent individual lash technique has made false eyelashes more realistic looking than ever,” said Bossom.

Bossom believes that the eyelash craze will be around for a long time, especially with the cosmetic industry constantly coming up with new ways to enhance lashes.

“Your eyes are one of the first things people notice about you,” she said. “After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Horn gives a how-to on applying false eyelashes

Video by Alexandra Smith

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