Special to the Weekend Post
For millennia, women have searched for ways to give their eyes — especially those all-important eyelashes — drama, depth and show-stopping power. From mascara to eyelash tinting to lash extensions and, recently, more over-the-counter eyelash conditioners, women throughout the ages have gone to great lengths for great lashes.
The result of this centuries-old search for more beautiful and compelling eyes has made the eye makeup category number one in the Canadian cosmetic market, accounting for 20% of all cosmetic sales, according to the 2009 Coty Trends Report.
“Beginning with the ancient Egyptians who used kohl, a powdery mixture of soot and metal, to define their eyes and eyebrows, women have always wanted long and full lashes,” says Karen Malcolm, a Calgary-based professional makeup artist with shows such as the Junos, the Geminis and the Country Music Awards to her credit.
Research has also shown that 54% of Canadian women want to be able to grow their own eyelashes longer, thicker and darker. As well, according to research, having luscious lashes makes women feel more beautiful, glamorous and confident.
So it’s no surprise that many women’s beauty kits are stocked with tools and products that help them achieve eye-catching illusions.
For example, eyelash curlers are effective at gently bending the lashes to open up the eyes. Semi-permanent eyelash extensions made from synthetic fibers can be applied at home or professionally as a single strip, individually to each lash or as a cluster, clumps of lashes bound together in a “v” shape to make lashes appear longer and fuller. From mascaras containing pigments, oils, waxes, water and sometimes vitamins, to more recently eyelash conditioners that claim to influence the growth of lashes, women today have a myriad of options to plump and define their lashes.
To add to this list, a new prescription product called Latisse has just hit the Canadian market. It is clinically shown to grow natural eyelashes longer, thicker and darker within eight to 16 weeks of daily application.
Aesthetic-specialty physicians and professional makeup artists such as Ms. Malcolm are already buzzing about it.
“It is very exciting. Since I’ve started using it, I’ve seen an improvement in the length and darkness of my lashes,” says Dr. Janis Campbell, a dermatologist at Calgary’s Laser Rejuvenation Clinic and Spa.
“I have seen it used personally and I find it is really effective. I know there is going to be a great demand for it,” adds Dr. Lisa Kellett, a dermatologist at DLK On Avenue in Toronto.
“Achieving today’s hottest looks — such as smoky eyes, where makeup encircles the eyes and gives them a deep, penetrating, mysterious aspect, or the cat’s eye effect, the look favoured by ’60s models such as Twiggy — becomes much simpler,” Ms. Malcolm says.
When clinically tested about 78% of patients using Latisse saw an overall increase in lash prominence, including a 25% increase in length, a 106% increase in thickness and an 18% increase in darkness.
In clinical trials, side effects such as itchy eyes, redness or a darkening of eyelid skin occurred in less than 4% of patients using Latisse.
According to Dr. Kellett, Latisse is only one of many non-surgical options available to women wanting to enhance the look of their eyes.
“The top complaint I see among patients is that friends tell them they look tired. They ask what they can do about their eyes to give them a natural, refreshed look,” Dr. Kellett says.
“[What I tell them is] women have many options. Prescription injectables can be used to smooth crow’s feet and frown lines to help eyes look more rested.
Fillers can be used in combination with a prescription injectable to fill lines and plump lips for an overall refreshed look.”
Laser skin resurfacing and intense pulse light (IPL) are other non-surgical options that can help to rejuvenate the look of skin around the eyes.
Surgical options such as blepharoplasty, also known as an eye lift or eyelid surgery, can help open up the eyes to further enhance the look of lashes. The procedure involves removing excess skin, muscle and fat on the upper and lower eyelids.
Latisse is an easy to apply treatment option available by prescription through aesthetic-specialty physicians.
“It is a middle-of-the-road option for women who don’t want surgery but also want clinically proven results that actually enhance eyelashes, rather than only influence them,” Dr. Campbell says.