Early one morning, while working as the features editor of a fashion magazine, I received a panicked phone call from the beauty director. A model had just called in sick, and she needed someone to appear in a photo shoot about hair extensions. The next thing I knew I was in the stylist’s chair.
We’ll draw a veil over the hair extensions themselves (which were less Kardashian and more ‘Morman kindergarten teacher’). But it was on that shoot that I discovered another type of lengthening treatment: false eyelashes. And I was hooked.
Longer lashes transformed my face – subtly done, they opened my eyes, softened my features and lent me a Disney Princess air of innocent femininity. Soon, they became my secret weapon, applied meticulously before every big night out.
Long lashes transformed my face, lending my features a Disney-Princess air of innocent femininity.
I’m hardly alone in the quest for longer lashes. Blame the Kardashians or our obsession with Instagram-worthy close-ups, but lash treatments are on the rise. Last year, The Business of Fashion even attributed the global slowing of mascara sales to the lash lengthening phenomenon. Then, last month, Pinterest declared “natural lash lifts” to be an emerging beauty trend for 2019, with searches increasing by 50% in the past year.
Which is a ve-eeery roundabout explanation of how I came to be lying on a daybed in Kristin Fisher’s chic new salon in Sydney’s Double Bay on a recent Tuesday morning, ready to try a lash lift.
As I snuggled under the covers, a beauty therapist in a stylish khaki linen boiler suit explained the procedure: my eyelashes would be treated with solutions and heated and bent into a curve.
Later, Fisher tells me that lash lifts were originally called “lash perms”. However, when traditional perming rods, used to bend the eyelashes, were replaced with silicone pads (which offer a more natural curve) they were cleverly reborn as more modern-sounding lifts.
“Lash lifts are very popular,” she says. “We do 10 a day, and they’re hour-long appointments.”
Fisher, who tends to the brows of celebrities such as Sylvia Jefferies and Jessica Gomes, believes that lash lifts are steadily superseding lash extensions because they’re quicker to perform. “A full set of extension takes two hours. People don’t have time for that.”
“And extensions can look very fake,” she continues. “There was that trend where everyone wanted to look very ‘done’ – you know, sharp brows, botox, filler. But people are calming down a little now. They want groomed brows but they prefer a more natural look.”
Eyelash extensions can look very fake. Now, women want a more natural look
The procedure itself, which includes an eyelash tint, is painless and takes about an hour (so bring your headphones and a good podcast). During that time your lower lashes will be taped down to keep them out of the way and your upper lashes are curved upwards.
This sounds worse than it is; at one point as the therapist laid a heated wrap over my eyes, I dozed off. (I’ve had worse Tuesday mornings.)
And the results? Brilliant. When I step out of the salon, blinking into the sun, my eyelashes feel positively doe-like. Fisher tells me that applying mascara is much faster after a lash lift, but the results are so impressive that for the first few days I don’t bother with mascara at all. When I do head to an event a few days later, a quick slick of tubular mascara produces dramatic results – no glue or falsies required.
What is a lash lift?
Once called ‘eyelash perms’, lash lifts set and curve your lashes using silicone pads.
How long does a lash lift take?
It takes about an hour to undergo a lash lift – and much of that time is spent simply waiting for the perming solution to set.
How long does a lash lift last?
Typically four to six weeks. (Mine last about six weeks.) But the ‘growing out’ period is gradual and relatively subtle.
Can you wear mascara after a lash lift?
You can! You’re advised to avoid wetting your face for 24 hours after the treatment to ensure it sets properly. However, you can wear mascara – though you may find you don’t require the same amount.
Photo credit: Ed Urrutia