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Lashes to Dye For!

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Long, thick, luxurious eyelashes can be the single most alluring component of a woman’s overall sex appeal. They not only draw attention to the eyes; they command it. Lids are lazily lowered for a sultry look or eyes opened wide for coquettish innocence. And of course, there’s the classic, playful, albeit somewhat campy, fluttering of the eyelashes.

Unfortunately, not all of us were blessed with luscious lashes. Mascara certainly helps, but it can only do so much. False eyelashes, once worn only by screen goddesses and sultry stars, are now easily available for all, offering a wide range of options for self-expression. Oprah gets her mink eyelashes custom-made at the Tokyo Lash Bar in Shu Uemura, which offers ready-made lashes for us mere mortals in a variety of shapes, colors, patterns, and materials—some adorned with crystals, jewels, and beads.

Despite all of these choices, some of us are still lacking in the lash department. I was born with naturally long eyelashes, but alas, as I am a blue-eyed redhead, my lashes are much too pale to stand out naturally.

For years, I made do with mascara, but that naked millimeter along the lash line always gave me away. I tried false eyelashes, but again, it was the odd little glimpse of blondish lash that kept my eyes from looking exactly right.

Then in 1999, I had an epiphany. While watching The Talented Mr. Ripley, I was contemplating Gwyneth Paltrow onscreen with that pale hair and eyebrows to match and I thought to myself, “She must get her eyelashes dyed!” You’d think it would have occurred to me earlier that people dyed their lashes, but this was before I became a spa treatment junkie. Needless to say, I immediately booked myself an appointment, just in time to ring in the new millennium with the eyelashes I’d always wanted. Since then, it’s become the one beauty treatment that I have done every month, like clockwork.

The very idea of eyelash tinting is incomprehensible to many. These skeptics can’t imagine why anyone would allow toxic chemicals to come so dangerously close to her eyes, simply for the sake of beauty. But the reality is that the dye is vegetable-based and it won’t cause any damage, even if it gets into your eyes, which, unfortunately, is quite possible.

If you have sensitive eyes, the lash tinting process may take some getting used to. First, the aesthetician will rub some Vaseline under your eyes to prevent the dye from seeping into your skin. After placing a thin, cotton pad under your bottom lashes, she’ll instruct you to close your eyes and will start applying the dye. She’ll tell you to relax your eyes as she works. You’ll have the urge to squint, but you must try to resist. Aside from the fact that it will result in the wretched naked millimeter, when you do relax your eyes after squinting, some of the dye may seep in. After the dye has been applied, the aesthetician will cover your eyes with cotton pads and let it set for about five minutes.

I’ve had this treatment done so many times that I rarely get any dye in my eyes during the application, but the removal process is another story. To remove the dye, the aesthetician will gently wipe your eyes with cold water. At this point, you will definitely have the urge to squint, but the water mingling with the dye makes it even more likely that you’ll experience a bit of seepage after relaxing the eyes so it’s important to keep them still. I usually speed up the process by telling the aesthetician I don’t mind if there’s a little dye under my eyes. After a couple of face washings, my skin is back to normal. If the removal process is unappealing, you can skip it altogether and just wait for the dye to fade.

Few spas charge more than $20 for an eyelash tint and the color lasts for about a month, so it’s an easy look to maintain. For blondes and redheads everywhere who’ve always coveted the glamorous lash look à la Audrey Hepburn, this treatment is an absolute godsend. But be forewarned, first-timers: a common side effect of the initial lash tint is that you will find yourself virtually glued to the mirror every chance you get, practicing your new and improved come hither look.



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