Artificially long lashes were once a luxury saved for holiday parties, weddings and balls. Yet despite social calendars that are noticeably thinner — and thanks in part to society's infatuation with celebrity — fat, long lashes are finding a permanent place in beauty budgets everywhere. • Oprah and J Lo are rumored to own false lashes made of mink, but you won't have to take on the wrath of PETA to buy lashes with animal magnetism. We've got the latest extensions and lengtheners that deliver longer, stronger, thicker lashes for a price.
Best in faux
Thanks to eyelash extensions, celebrities such as Beyoncé, Lindsay Lohan and Eva Longoria Parker are seldom photographed without long, lush lashes.
The old-fashioned lash extension was a long strip of falsies applied with glue to the lash line. But today's semi-permanent lash extensions are applied individually to achieve a much more natural look. These lashes are also thicker at the base and tapered at the ends, a shape that mimics natural lashes with the added benefit of length and fullness.
We tested lash extension services in the Tampa Bay area and found that while prices and lash extension brands vary greatly, some things remain the same.
Here's what to know before you go faux.
• Skip the mascara: Most experts recommend skipping mascara entirely or opting for a brand specially formulated for lash extensions. We've tried both and suggest an alternative: Tarte Cosmetics' Rejuvelash, natural declumping lash exhilarator ($16 at tartecosmetics.com). This was just the fix we needed to refresh lashes without adding product – such as colored mascara – that would potentially weaken the lash extensions. Plus, there's no need to remove Rejuvelash, saving our extensions from further distress.
• Shower with goggles: We're serious. Die-hard lash extension fans swear that the best way to preserve these falsies — and your investment — is to keep them in pristine condition. So showering with goggles is recommended, although you should skip steamy showers for 48 hours post-application.
• Longevity varies: Some spots swear their extensions last upward of 90 days, but, in the real world, results may vary. After several test runs, we found ours stuck for up to six weeks if cared for properly. Skipping traditional mascara is a must for longer-lasting lashes.
And, once they start to fall off, removal or replacement becomes quickly necessary.
• Where to go and what it costs: Lash extensions can be a considerable investment, priced at $150 to $300 at most local spas and salons. But given that consumers spend about $5 billion a year on mascara, luxe lashes are clearly a budget priority for many women.
If you're looking for more than mascara, but aren't ready for extensions or the drug Latisse (see sidebar), there are plenty of over-the-counter products that promise to lengthen, strengthen and generally improve the condition of lashes. We tried out a bunch; here are several that visibly got us to our destination: longer, lusher lashes.
• RapidLash: Sweep RapidLash onto lash line once daily using the brush applicator, similar to a liquid liner brush. As the company discloses in its FAQs, some consumers experience a mild tingling sensation, as we did with our first two applications. RapidLash is also effective for encouraging hair growth on sparse brows. $49.99 for 0.1 oz. at Dermstore.com.
• LashFood: Marketed as a lash conditioning stimulant, LashFood promises results in two to four weeks when applied in the morning and at night. Key ingredients include biotin, arginine and iris extract. Be careful not to overapply; just a dab will do you. $119 for 0.34 oz. at Lashfood.com.
• LiLash: LiLash Purified Eyelash Stimulator is also sold in a formula created specifically for brows. After a few weeks of use, some of our lashes seemed to stand a bit taller.
The manufacturer, Cosmetic Alchemy, offers a 90-day money back guarantee (less shipping and handling) for those who purchase the product via the LiLash Web site. $139.97 for 0.18 oz. at Lilash.com.
Carolyn Brundage is the founder of tampabay.prettycity.com. E-mail her at email@example.com.