Wed, Jan 05, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Catch an eyeful

Brands like L’Oreal and Peter Thomas Roth are rolling out new products that make eyelashes as fat and feathery as possible

By Kayleen Schaefer  /  NY Times News Service, NEW YORK

Photo: Reuters

Like hemlines and cocktails, facial features go in and out of fashion, and right now, eyelashes are where it’s at. Five years ago, we may have wanted a plump, pillowy Angelina Jolie mouth, suffering through stinging lip glosses and shots of collagen for it. But these days the focus has shifted to a fat, feathery eye fringe (ask the Kardashians).

“The goal is drag-queen lashes,” said Amber Katz, 30, a writer, describing the look she wants on Saturday nights. “Veering into ‘I sweat glitter’ territory.”

For her, and the rest of us craving disco-ready lashes without using falsies, there is an ever-growing arsenal of tools: over-the-counter lash-enhancing serums, semipermanent mascaras that last up to six weeks and more-traditional formulas that claim to impart tarantula-like spikes.

Latisse, the first federally approved prescription drug for growing longer, lusher lashes, was introduced in 2009, and a wave of similar but less potent over-the-counter serums has followed. There are at least 10, all introduced in the last year, that claim to make lashes look lengthier and fuller, from brands like L’Oreal and Peter Thomas Roth, ranging from US$15 to US$125.

The products work on the lashes in two ways. First, they contain a molecule similar to the bimatoprost in Latisse, which prolongs the hair growth cycle so that your lashes don’t fall out as often.

“It’s not entirely understood why or how this type of molecule prolongs the growth phase of the cycle, but scientists know that it does,” said David Colbert, a dermatologist. “And because it does, your eyelashes are in your face longer, so they grow thicker, and there are more of them.”

The over-the-counter serums also purport to strengthen lashes by moisturizing them with ingredients like pro-vitamin B5 and humectants. “It’s really about conditioning and giving the lash TLC,” Colbert said. “If you moisturize anything, it’s going to look better.”

To be effective, the serums should be applied twice a day to the base of the lashes. Recently, DuWop Cosmetics co-founder Laura LaRocca and makeup artist Dawn Watts created the first lash-boosting formula with pigment in it so it can be used as an eyeliner. Called Line N Grow, it comes in black, olive and midnight blue, among other shades. “I thought: You put it on like eyeliner. Why don’t we make it one?” Watts said. “It was one of those aha moments.”

It won’t stand alone for long. Physicians Formula is introducing a similar product, called Eye Booster 2-in-1-Lash Boosting Eyeliner (PLUS) Serum, in March.

But it takes about four to six weeks of twice-a-day use of lash enhancers to see actual growth, and soon after you stop using them, your lashes will revert to their original, sparser state. Established side effects of Latisse include itching, irritation, redness and increased brown pigmentation of the iris; the over-the-counter products, which are not government regulated, are also a gamble.

According to Colbert, the over-the-counter lash boosters contain a weaker derivative of bimatoprost or a similar molecule. “Most people won’t experience any side effects from the over-the-counter products,” he said, “but I’d never want to go on the record as saying 100 percent of people won’t.” Colbert tried Line N Grow on his right eye every morning for two weeks and noticed that his lashes looked thicker, but said: “A couple of times it stung a tiny bit, but it went away in seconds.”

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