Grow your own lashes?

I really didn’t think I’d be writing this piece. ‘Grow your own false lashes’ reads the press release and I heave a sigh. We’ve been here before. The invention of new lash growth is like the Philosopher’s Stone of the beauty industry, and only too often the products are more like the Emperor’s New Clothes. But I’ll try anything. Besides, you can’t avoid lash lengtheners at the moment, as more and more beauty companies are bringing out mascaras and serums to enhance length and condition. I just find it hard to believe they really work.

I have a vested interest in this topic. My eyelashes are just 6mm long. The average lash is between seven and nine mm. Without copious amounts of mascara I look alien. I once borrowed a boyfriend’s mother’s mascara rather than be seen ‘naked’. So I decide to try out serum, which is one of the many which claims to grow your own lashes longer. I have no expectation of it working.

It doesn’t help that my short-lashed look is so unfashionable. Lashes have never been bigger – or longer – than this decade. Cheryl Cole is responsible to a large extent – there is even a range of Girl’s Aloud fake lashes available. The catwalks for autumn/winter also emphasised the importance of the full-lashed flutter, and every red carpet event sports more fake hair than Britney.

But there is a backlash. National sight charity, the Eyecare Trust, launched a campaign this year to emphasise that the improper use and storage of fake lashes poses a health risk, as dirt and bacteria can transfer to the eyelids and cornea, which in turn can lead to infections and even loss of sight. Personally I loathe them as I find them extremely uncomfortable. So the thought of growing ones’s own is most tempting.

ProLash 8 comes from the States and is the first non-prescription eyelash extension formula that has been clinically proven to extend and thicken lashes. Lash-lengthening peptides and B vitamins combine to strengthen the epidermal junction – where the lashes grow from the lid. This means that the growth cycle is extended and they are able to grow longer before falling out. “Many prescription lash extension products may cause eyelid or eye irritation,” says Todd Wilson, the pharmaceutical scientist who ran the trials. “ProLash 8 has many of the same ingredients, but has removed those with troublesome side effects and replaced them with more naturally effective ones.”

The results of trials on twenty subjects showed that ProLash 8 extends length and density by an average of fifty per cent. This science sounds great, but then it always does. The proof in this case, is in the pudding. Or rather, in my much longer and thicker eyelashes. Or not.

First I visit Debbie Law, international company trainer for Nouveau Lashes, who specialise in bonding individual fake lashes to eyes. Using special callipers she measures my lashes to confirm their paltry length. I’m surprised to find that she agrees with the notion of lash serums. “We need to treat our lashes with more respect,” she says, lowering her eyes so I can see her exceptionally long lashes brush her cheekbones. “You should condition them just as you do your hair. That said, there’s nothing to replace the effect of beautifully applied false lashes.”

Every night for a month I need to apply ProLash 8. It comes in a slim silver tube and the applicator looks like an eye-liner. After removing make-up, it is applied in exactly the same way as eye liner to the eyelids where the lashes grow from. It takes seconds. The liquid is clear and doesn’t hurt my eyes at all.

For the first three days I stare at my lashes in the mirror – willing them to spring forth. But nothing happens. I carry on, but assume that it’s a waste of time. But two weeks later, as I trowel on my mascara, I notice that my lashes do look longer. I am enchanted with my new look – to the casual observer I just have normal eyes, but I feel like Cheryl, or possibly Bambi. After a month I am convinced that they are both lusher and longer.

I return to Nouveau Lashes to be re-measured. I need to check that it’s not psychosomatic and I’ve actually got bald eyes. Astonishingly, they now average eight mm. That’s a growth of 2mm in just four weeks. I’ll never be in Cheryl’s league, but I’m thrilled to have been proven wrong. Now, if someone could come up with a product to ‘Grow Longer Legs’ I’ll be in heaven.

ProLash 8, £67 (plus £4.95 p&p for a four week supply).

Renewal Lash Serum by L’Oreal Paris, (£10.99, available nationwide) is a serum and mascara which contains ingredients to nourish and boost lashes.

Rapidlash Eyelash Enhancing Serum, (£39.95, from Boots) This has already caused a buzz with an eight hundred name waiting list before it was even launched. May help eyelashes grow up to 50% in eight weeks.

Hypnose Precious Cells Mascara by Lancome,(£22, available nationwide) helps regenerate lash condition making lashes feel stronger and look thicker.

Jan Marini also offers a mascara cum serum that containing peptides to stimulate growth while giving your smudge-proof dark lashes. (£45 from Amazon online).

by Alice Smellie
Alice Smellie

Alice Smellie

With a passion for beauty and over a decade’s experience working for national newspapers and magazines, Alice has written for such publications as the Independent, Harpers, Grazia, ES Magazine,Daily Telegraph, Brides magazine and InStyle magazine. For the last five years she has predominantly been writing beauty features for the Daily Mail. Her obsession with decent mascara is rivalled only by her increasingly desperate quest for effective anti-wrinkle creams. She adores cheap chocolate, expensive champagne and Edward Cullen with a passion and hasn’t left the house without wearing make-up since 1993 when the local newsagent didn’t recognise her without lipgloss.

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