BEAUTY

Eyelash Extensions: Lust or Must?

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Length, volume, definition...It seems the perfect set of eyelashes are always just out of reach.  If your lashes are long, you want more volume.  If you have volume, you want definition between your lashes.  The saga never ends, leaving a woman's mascara collection to simply expand.  More recently, however, many women have been turning to eyelash extensions.  Available at thousands of salons and at all different price points, long, full, voluminous, definitive lashes are now achieved in just about an hour.  Talk about problem solved!  Or is it?

There is no doubt that long eyelashes are a lust must.  The 2010 Women's Wear Daily reported that while most beauty sales had been flat, false-eyelash sales were up 6.2 percent, totaling $44 million annually.  The eyelash extension process comes from Japan, where the art of adding false lashes one by one was created and perfected at the start of the new millennium.  This beauty treatment became popular in 2004, taking the US by storm.  Today, these extensions are among the beauty routines of millions of women, with the popular phrase "I need to get lashed!" referring to their desperate need for this aspirational look, so long in length that they often brush one's cheek.

Through the use of a surgical grade adhesive, eyelash extensions are applied one by one to natural lashes.  The procedure takes approximately an hour and a half to two hours for a full set of extensions, and may last indefinitely with refills required every two to three weeks, depending on the cycle of your hair growth.  Each lash hair goes through three natural cycles: "Anagen," the growth phase, "Catagen," the resting phase", and "Telogen," the shedding phase."  In the third and final phase, the real lash falls out naturally, dropping the eyelash extension out with it. A new growing cycle then begins.  The growth phases of one's natural lashes are staggered to prevent periods of eyelash baldness when the growth cycle stops.

"Eyelashes are the new breasts," said writer Tracy Quan, who blogs about pop culture and sex for The Daily Beast.  "Maybe you can't invest in larger breasts right now," Ms. Quan said, "but an inexpensive pair of lashes can also give you an instant lift."  The prices for eyelash extensions vary just as much as the types of lashes that are available do.  Ranging in cost anywhere from $80 to $500, eyelash extensions are made from single fiber "hairs" offered in a selection of lengths, widths, curls and colors.  Eyelash extensions are usually made from genuine Siberian mink fur, synthetic, silk, human hair, or polyester.  Authentic Siberian fur mink lashes are said to be very lightweight and feathery.  They are also the most costly eyelash extension on the market.

But with any seemingly magical beauty treatment, there are things to consider.  Even at the lowest cost, the price of this beauty treatment is at definite lust versus must status.  If the cost is not an issue, consider these important points as well before saying "Eye Do."  Be sure to go to a licensed professional.  If for example, the extensions applied are thicker than what they have to be, the hair follicle becomes stressed, forcing natural eyelashes to drop out before their natural cycle.  If you rub your eyes frequently, have sensitive skin or allergies, it is recommended you don't wear extensions, as they will fall out quickly and/or irritate skin.  Curly eyelashes are also not very good candidates for extensions because they tend to shorten the wear time, lasting about only 3 days.  Some users also report a stinging as extensions fall out over time or get wet.

Not enough to deter you?  You're not alone.  The lash movement is strong, with celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Star Jones, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton, Jennifer Love-Hewitt, Lindsay Lohan, Gwen Stefani, Lucy Liu, Naomi Campbell and Liz Hurley all lashing out.  So are eyelash extensions a lust or must?  You decide!

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