We’ve always known it — in a certain way, the eyes are just about as important to look into as they are in helping us see. They’re the “windows of our souls.” They’re the center of our face — the first thing someone notices about us. A simple wink of the eye can alert us to a little joke or some mischief or a discreet hello from a loved one. A flirtatious batting of the eyelashes can set our hearts aflutter.

Garbo’s eyes were large and sensuous and a trademark of sorts. Elizabeth Taylor’s violet eyes were the talk of the tabloids. And the fact that her double row of eyelashes was always included in the references lets us know how integrated the lashes are in the beauty of the eye. No wonder butterfly kisses are immortalized in a popular song.


We have eyelashes to protect our eyes from debris and, because they’re sensitive when touched, to warn us when a flying insect or something comes near our eyes, causing a reflexive closing of the eye. Even though we lose an eyelash every so often, guess what? They grow back, usually in about four to eight weeks.

In most cultures, long eyelashes are associated with femininity. Although many mammals sport eyelashes, the giraffe’s are sometimes thought to be the most beautiful of all, including those of humanoids.

Cleopatra knew it and used kohl for eye and lash enhancement. Thai art pictures Buddha with eyelashes “like a cow’s.” And that’s a good thing. Finding an eyelash, some believe, is good luck. Beautiful eyelashes are considered to be such a feminine trait that some believe one can tell the sex of cats by looking at their eyelashes and brow shapes.

Is it any wonder, then, why women yearn to have long lashes? We’ve come a long way, baby. We’ve mascaraed our way through thick and thin, from colorless to colored, from powder one had to moisten to waterproof, thickening, nonallergenic, nonsmudging, silkier formulas that actually make your lashes healthier.

In the ’60s, we discovered the wonderful world of false eyelashes and glue. Unfortunately, these lashes were quite obviously, well, false looking. Over time, our selections evolved into longer, shorter, thicker, thinner, half-lashes, edge-ofthe-eye-only lashes, individual lashes, twinsies, more natural, mink and more.

Now we can have false eyelashes in almost any color (think bright orange), multicolored (black and pink, blue-white and green) and decorated with rhinestones or peacock feathers, starting at three dollars and up. You can purchase them online, at beauty supply stores, major department stores and drug stores.

However, professionally applied false eyelashes will, more than likely, give you a more even, natural and polished look and may stay affixed more securely. Xitlait Herrera of Neiman Marcus extols the beauty and selections of their exclusive line of Shu Uemura lashes. Oprah wore his mink lashes, and Madonna toured using his mink-with-diamonds custom version.

At the makeup counter, they’ll fix you up with styles and colors to fit any occasion. They’ll teach you how while they apply your natural shade, thin or thick, long or short, crystally and glittery, feathery or whatever-you-choose lashes. You can schedule an appointment, and they’ll apply them free with the eyelash purchase.

Herrera says today’s comment at social functions is “why don’t you have them?” — not “why are you wearing them?” It’s fun just to start a conversation with someone when wearing the edgy lashes.

Over at Nordstrom, Tom Benderwald recommends their selection of M.A.C. lashes. He says they carry everything from the natural in any shape, length and thickness to fantasy styles, including color-matching and color-enhancing, glittery, party fun (think Halloween, Christmas, etc.) and more. They also teach you as they go, and Benderwald says they have many lash products that are very reasonable in cost.


For long, luscious eyelashes without the daily maintenance, consider eyelash extensions. These semi-permanent extensions are bonded to your your own lashes, one at a time. Since the extensions come curled already, you obtain a wider, more defined look to your eyes. They are also resistant to sweat, tears and other watery substances. Since they are virtually weightless, you’ll feel no noticeable difference at your eyelash area.

The downside: Because the procedure is rather difficult, if it’s not done correctly, your lashes could end up looking awful. Maintenance involves renewing every couple of months, which could become time-consuming and costly.

At Radiance Med Spa, Eva Hein, an aesthetician who performs the eyelash extension procedure, says it takes from one and one-half to two hours, and each extension lasts until the regular eyelash it is bonded to falls out in its usual, cyclical nature — about every four to six weeks. Radiance features the Extreme brand of lashes.

Katherine Elliott, owner of Couture Lash Boutique, says she also uses the Extreme brand of lash extensions. Both Hein and Elliott are proud of the distinction because Extreme requires extensive training of aestheticians to gain certification using their brand before they will allow salons to purchase and apply their lashes. The lashes are attached individually — referred to as tabbing — with surgical glue to prevent irritation or allergies. Lashes are customized to fit your face as to length, width, etc.

Brows to Brazilians (formerly called the Art of Skin) also offers eyelash extensions, along with waxing and many other services.

Successful lash extension requires that the extensions are applied properly and that the bonding is allowed to set long enough, usually several hours, before any water touches them. We’re strongly urged to avoid waterproof mascara while wearing extensions.

The newest option to eyelashiness is the eyelash transplant. (Remember when I told you this was coming, a couple of issues ago?) I read that an out-of-town recipient said her new lashes were long and beautiful and she didn’t have to worry they might fall off at the dinner table. She also revealed that several months after her transplants, it is time for her to trim them.

Only recently have women wanted permanent eyelashes for cosmetic reasons, instead of as the result of trauma.

The procedure used by Dr. Alan Bauman (www.eyelash-transplant.com) is to take healthy hair from the back of the head, separate into individual follicles, thread through a surgical needle and transplant into the upper eyelid, one at a time. He makes sure when the eyelashes start growing that the curl of the hair will match the normal position and the direction of the curl of the existing lashes.

Dr. Bauman transplants about 40 lashes per eye in about an hour at a cost of $3,000 per eye. This is done under local anesthesia. Recovery takes several days for the minor bruising to fade and the swelling to subside. Eyelash implants, like other cosmetic procedures, are not covered by health insurance. I have not heard of any physician in San Antonio offering this procedure.

I came across ads for some clear liquids and gels that claim to do wonderful things for your own lashes. One, RevitaLash, was developed by a physician for his wife, whose eyelashes were extremely damaged by the chemotherapy treatments she underwent for breast cancer. Friends and family started to comment and wanted to know the secret of her beautiful eyelashes. The ad goes on to say if you apply once a day, like liquid eyeliner, in three to 10 weeks, your own lashes will look younger, thicker and fuller. A portion of the proceeds goes to breast cancer research and education.

Locally, RevitaLash can be found at the newly opened Couture Lash Boutique. Owner Elliott says this is great stuff, and she just loves the story of product development and that a percentage goes to cancer research. $150 gets you a six-month supply.

At the salon of Laura Frisk, known locally for her vast experience applying permanent cosmetics, you’ll find Ardel Lash Extender, which Frisk can personally vouch for, since she uses it on her own lashes. She says she can hardly believe there is finally a safe product that will actually grow your own eyelashes.

“How safe is it?” you might ask. Well, some of the ingredients found in the eyedrops used to treat patients with glaucoma are also used in the lash extender. For $21.95, you can obtain a fourmonth supply.

Another product, LiLash Purified Eyelash Stimulator (www.lilash.com) also claims to stimulate and condition eyelashes. When used regularly, in about three weeks your lashes will appear thicker, darker and longer.

And Max Growth Eyelash Builder© is a clear serum containing keratin, which, when applied in the morning and evening, is said to bond to your lashes, seal and protect them from breakage, allowing them to grow full and thick. It is also supposed to make your lashes stronger, healthier and glossier (MaxGrowth.net)


Lashes to dye for — or, at least tint for — can make your own lashes look darker. Professionals trained in this procedure can match your lash color or whatever is best suited to your complexion and hair color. One place where you’ll find trained aestheticians is Woodhouse Spa in the Quarry. Jessica Munoz at Woodhouse says dyeing your lashes will take about 30 to 45 minutes, and the color lasts three to four weeks.

Sometimes just curling your lashes (oh, admit it, you’ve got one) will enlarge the look of your eyes. Especially those of us who have eyelids falling ever so slightly. But if you don’t want to take the time to do your own curling every morning, there is an alternative — the eyelash perm. It’s also called a permanent curl even though the curl actually lasts around two to three months.

Just ask Laura Frisk. At her salon, you can get your own eyelashes tinted and permed in one location. The procedure involves a perming solution and a thin roller. After curling, your lashes will stay curled even while you swim, shower, sweat and cry. You’ll not have the running, smearing or smudging either.

Go a step further at Frisk’s — have her apply permanent eyeliner, and the subtle dotting of the liner application will actually mimic additional lashes while also giving the appearance of added length.

Meanwhile, back at the Couture Lash Boutique, your lashes can be extended, permed and tinted, too.

A caution: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate eyelash perms. Just make sure your salon uses all natural ingredient solutions, and ask your beauty professional to use an eye shield to prevent possible damage to your eyes.


Yes, as stated before, we all do experience periodic individual eyelash losses and, yes, they do grow back.
Reasons for losing eyelashes in clumps include:
Allergic to eye makeup
Using too much mascara and eye makeup
Not taking makeup off properly
General allergies
Not getting enough sleep
Rubbing your eyes
Kohl as an eye-coloring agent is dangerous because it contains heavy metals (lead) and salts. It can cause severe ocular health problems.
Do NOT use hair dyes to color eyelashes (or brows).
If you experience an ingrown eyelash, have it removed by a physician. Rubbing your eye can irritate it and could cause damage.
If you experience eye irritation, throw away products that might cause irritation. If your eyelash extensions bother you, let your beauty professional know.
Keep your applicators clean. If they’re old, discard; if you’re sharing, stop.
Discard old or dried-out makeup. Mascara should be used for only three months.
Be still while applying makeup. If you poke yourself in the eye while riding in a car or driving (you know who you are), the implement could have bacteria and cause the eye to become infected.

Author: Anne Moore