Turning 50 kind of snuck up on me, and along the way I neglected to read the memo about thinning hair and thinning eyebrows. One afternoon I was staring at my reflection in the mirror, wondering why everything seemed a bit…well…off. I looked like myself, only sparse and faded. Later that same day I ran into a friend of mine who is a few years older. She looked so bright and awake. “I just had my lashes done” she breathlessly informed me. “Don’t they look great!” She batted her eyes at me and I had to agree that she did look fabulous. Everything about her seemed more vibrant and intense. Of course you know what I did next…
A few days later, after a 60-minute session that was surprisingly relaxing, I walked out of the salon with a full set of “permanent” eyelash extensions.
Carefully and nimbly applying individual fake lashes to my natural ones with a semi permanent adhesive, then running my Amex through for $120, I was sent home with instructions to avoid rubbing my eyes, sleeping on my stomach, or washing my face with a cloth. Following these guidelines I could expect my lashes to last about 3 weeks. I felt like a million bucks! My eyes looked large and sexy and dramatic – in a natural, no-makeup kind of way. I’m convinced I looked 15 years younger, and the perceived return to youth had added a bounce to my step. Everything about my appearance seemed spruced up and I swear my clothes fit better. I thought I had discovered the fountain of youth.
Things were great for about a week or so. The lashes stayed on though daily showers, multiple hot yoga sessions and normal activities. Then one or two fell off…not too noticeable, but I was aware of gaps in my dramatic and sexy fringe. I began to feel a bit dingy and slightly sloppy.
The problem for me, as a contact lens wearer, is that false eyelashes make your lashes heavy, and I constantly felt that I had a piece of dust or dirt on my eye, which could quickly become a log or boulder if it slipped under my lens. So I began to touch them and try to remove the non-existent piece of dust before it became a problem. This habit loosens the adhesive, and then the lash, making it more of a nuisance, and contributes to the real problem with fake lashes: often when they fall off they take your natural lash with them. And the real ones take forever to grow back – especially at our age. (Think eyebrows, only slower…ugh.)
The reflex solution is to get replacement lashes affixed to cover up the gaps and stubs. It’s a vicious (and expensive) cycle. I tried about 4 cycles of false lashes before realizing that I was contributing to my own naked eye. Going from lush fringe to scrappy, thin lashes is the ultimate beauty buzz kill, but in one of those rare moments of awareness, I realized that if I kept getting falsies, one day I’d have no real lashes left. So I went cold turkey, even swearing off mascara for about a month to prevent any further damage to what was left. I spent a lot of time glamming up my look with bold sunglasses. It took about 6 to 8 months for my lashes to grow back to my pre-extension state.
I miss the feeling of dramatic, sexy, no-makeup eyes. I secretly long for that Cleopatra sensation and the come-hither look that is so empowering, but I prefer knowing that I’m taking care of what nature gave me. And besides, come-hither can be so exhausting at times! But I do wonder what people like Kim Kardashian look like in between lash applications – and what she’ll look like at 50 if she keeps using falsies – because clearly hers are fake, and she must be suffering from the same fall out that befalls the mere human population like ourselves.