I have seven eyelashes: three on one lid, four on the other. Well, not exactly, but my eyelashes are so sparse, thin and short that it might as well be true. I've long been envious of the thick, inky sweep that Mother Nature seems to think looks best on baby boys. "It's not fair," I cry in outrage, hoping that each child's parent thinks I'm merely being funny. Do I really need to tell you how I feel upon hearing about eyelash extensions?
I book my appointment with Carmen Camara at Jeanet Spa & Salon in Toronto, Ont. Together we look at a range of loose lashes, from itty-bitty singletons to clusters to beyond-Vegas-showgirl outlandish. Carmen feels that since it's my first time, I should go for drama. Thankfully, that means a combination of single lashes and small clusters. I'm stoked.
The procedure itself takes about half an hour to 40 minutes. I recline on a massage table with Carmen seated on a chair behind me, at the top of my head. She swipes my lashes gently with makeup remover to cleanse them of the day's residue, rinses them with water and dries them before proceeding. Holding each lash or cluster with fine-tipped tweezers, she dips the ends in a tiny bit of glue then attaches them to my lashes. I'm supposed to help by looking down rather than closing my eyes, but I hit the snooze level within minutes. Carmen cleverly manages anyway.
I wake up periodically to ask important questions, such as "how long will these last?" and "how will I remove my eye makeup?" and "I'll have to abstain from working out at the gym, right? Right?"
I'm told that the lashes stay on for up to four weeks. But I'm a first-timer, so they'll last maybe two on account I'll probably rub or tug at them a lot without realizing it, and the oil from my fingers will reduce their staying power. Carmen says I won't need mascara so I'll have less eye makeup to remove, but I should use a non-oily cleanser.
When she's finished attaching the lashes, Carmen carefully trims them to a more natural length. She hands me a mirror. When I can finally speak, I thank her profusely, all the while admiring my fabulous eyes in the mirror.
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How they look and feel
At first, I can feel the extensions. The glue doesn't touch my skin, but I feel as though I'm wearing a strip of falsies. I'm unused to the weight that comes with having thick lashes, I suppose. But I don't mind.
I leave Jeanet's with a list of maintenance tips, an extra spring in my step and yes, a song in my heart. I feel empowered! I'm imbued with a seductive force that I never thought could be mine. I notice furtive looks from a number of male (and female!) passengers on the TTC trip home and think, "Wow, I've finally got it going on!" Of course, the glances might be in response to my exaggeratedly slow blinks, as I am making an unnecessarily cautious effort not to dislodge a single precious lash.
A new day (and beauty routine)
I find I need very little eye makeup the next morning. At the office, a few colleagues comment that I look rather fetching for some reason, but none of them immediately notices the extensions themselves (I count this as a bonus -- I'm happy to look "naturally" fetching). I occasionally catch myself stroking the tips of my lashes against the back of my fingers, but stop abruptly before any damage is done.
My beauty routine does change slightly to accommodate my new best friends. I cleanse and rinse my face with extra care to avoid rubbing the lashes, and switch from cotton pads to cotton swabs to remove liner. I adjust the temperature of my shower to comfortably warm instead of steaming, and keep my face out of direct spray. Applying makeup takes almost no time because I don't need to curl my lashes or use mascara.
The first cluster falls off just about two weeks after application. Strangely, and unexpectedly, I don't mind, and in fact soon remove the rest myself with an oil-based cleanser. I'm not unhappy to greet my little lashes once more, and in the weeks since, I find I no longer feel quite so envious of those lucky babies. I know I can be that lush-lashed woman again any time I choose.
Oh yes, and apparently you can work out as usual if you have lash extensions. Huh.
• Jeanet Spa & Salon, Eyelash applications, $65 and up.
• Lash It Semi-Permanent Eyelashes, Intercosmetics Spa & Esthetic Supplies, 1-800-263-4333
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