Fringe benefits of fake lashes

They’re time-consuming to apply and pricy to maintain, but the ayes still have it for Sarah Geraghty when it comes to getting her eyelashes ready for some serious batting

Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 01:00

I bat my eyelashes at a quizzical-looking friend, demanding he play the “notice anything different about my face?” game. “And I don’t even have any make-up on,” I yelp. “Yep. They make a small yet very significant difference to your face

,” he announces finally.

During the two weeks following my first encounter with eyelash extensions, I play this game a lot.

It’s a great two weeks. I’m ever-ready to dress up as Holly Golightly, or twist my hair in a loose chignon, suck in my cheeks and make like a moody French actress who hangs out smoking and blinking seductively at broody French men.

Which I find surprising. Because they’re just eyelashes. But having these fluttery Disneyesque eye-fringes as a permanent feature for two weeks helps me appreciate why humans have been obsessing over “aesthetic adornment” since the Bronze Age.

The ancient Egyptians copped that fluttery lashes handily protected their eyes from sand and had an aphrodisiac effect, so they lashed on the kohl. Remember Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra? Actually, she had an unfair advantage, being born with a freaky double set of eyelashes.

It also makes me realise that mascara and eyelash curlers have their limitations – something I wish someone had told my cousin and me, aged 11, sitting in her bedroom, holding a lighter – a naked-flame cigarette lighter, not a hairdryer as often recommended – under an eyelash curler for a few seconds before clamping it to our delicate lashes for longer than was healthy.

According to a report from Euromonitor, mascara sales – of products such as Benefit’s They’re Real and Longer than Life by Nars and then, confusingly, Shu Uemura’s Ultimate Natural – account for 13.8 per cent of the global “colour cosmetics” market (make-up to you and me).

But remember when the mascara merchants had to admit they were exaggerating a tiny bit when they suggested we’d look like Penelope Cruz, for example? People were twigging that the more coats they lashed on, the less they were looking Penelope and more Alex in Clockwork Orange. So imagine our relief when the small-print finally revealed their make-up artistes were using tools not readily to hand in our make-up bags. Such as digital-enhancing techniques and lots of eyelash extensions.

The first false eyelashes made their appearance when film director DW Griffith wanted Seena Owen to have lashes “that brushed her cheeks, to make her eyes shine larger than life.” Now that’s a look that required more than mere mascara.

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