A Converts Story

Until now, clear mascara was all I would submit to, or occasionally some basic black for special occasions. That’s why I was somewhat wary about an offer to try semi-permanent eyelash extensions. I bit the bullet, told myself to grow up and that I was worth it, and booked the appointment. After having them for nearly two weeks, I’ve gotta say, I’m hooked. Not only am I hooked, but I would go so far as to say that I am addicted. My guide through all of this tells me I’m not alone.

“I have groupies now,” jokes Theresa Heer, a licensed esthetician in North Vancouver. “As you can imagine, they’re addictive. I think I might have to start eyelash anonymous.” Heer’s clientele consists of regulars and people looking for a dramatic look for a special occasion. I opted for my trial at a time when I had a friend visiting from New York. The week promised a number of girls’ nights out, concert going, fancy dinners and drinks, boutique shopping and general female bonding. The eyelashes seemed like a perfect fit for such a long weekend, and they didn’t disappoint.

Heer said she started offering the service about a year ago.

“I follow the trends,” she said, referring to the process that originated in Asia before trickling through North America.

“This service has been available in Hollywood for celebrities for quite a few years now,” she said.

Hearing about the procedure over and over again, Heer took a course and started offering it locally.

“It’s just taken off ever since,” she said.

Unlike other eyelash enhancements, like mascara and what Heer refers to as the “old fashioned” falsies that adhere to the eyelid, eyelash extensions are no fuss and no muss. They won’t run and won’t fall off at inappropriate times. Honeymooners love the service as new brides can wake up with their new spouse looking beautiful followed by a day at the beach, never requiring a touchup.

“There are synthetic hair (extensions) on the market, but I use the natural (sterilized) human hair because it’s lighter in weight and feels more natural,” said Heer.

I have to admit this fact made me feel uneasy at first after Heer, my esthetician guru, told me the news. However, a closet fan of America’s Next Top Model and overtly of film, television, music and magazines in general, I realized that no doubt the locks and lashes on the stars I love come from the same source. If they can wear someone else’s without it bothering them — and look that good – – so can I. My unease subsided. In retrospect, the synthetic lashes she could have used frighten me more as there’s already way too many chemicals involved in my daily routine.

I arrived at Heer’s studio feeling nervous but was immediately put at ease. Heer led me through the hair salon portion of the business to a private room at the back painted a soft pastel. She lit candles and continued to ask me whether I was comfortable.

“Even if I’ve already told you prior to the service what I’m going to do I explain each step as I go along so that you don’t feel any surprises,” she said.

While I laid back and relaxed with my eyes closed listening to Loreena McKennitt on a Discman, Heer went to work. First she taped my lower lashes down and then used a latex-based adhesive to apply the individual lash extensions to my existing upper lashes, not my skin. While she said she has never heard of anyone having an allergic reaction, those with known allergies should do a test run. The process is safe for contact lens wearers like myself as well, she said.

It took about an hour for Heer to complete my new lashes, and I was shocked at how little discomfort I experienced throughout. My eyes watered a bit and I impatiently wanted to open them, but there was no pain. Once Heer was finished, I looked in a mirror and staring back at me was still me, but a much more dramatic version. My eyes looked huge!

It took an extremely short period of time for me to get used to the extensions, and after a few days, they felt like they were mine and mine alone.

The lashes are waterproof and no mascara is required. I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to wake up, shower and go, looking as if I had spent time on a look. I did feel sort of silly the first day I woke up and went for a run. However, I relaxed about it after a male jogger passed me and I could continue to smell his cologne all the way down the block. He had obviously spent more time getting ready than I had.

While I opted for basic individual extensions to accentuate my natural look, there are a variety of options for the bolder sort.

“You can get really crazy with them if you want,” said Heer. “They also come in silver and gold.”

They’ll last anywhere from three to five weeks with touchups as required. I removed them easily at home with baby oil, which breaks down the adhesive.

“It’s really important not to pull the lashes off because the health of the lashes is what we’re really striving to keep up,” said Heer, who can also remove them. “It is a specialized service and you should only go to somebody that has been properly trained,” she said.

It’s been quite traumatic having gone back to my former lash length now that I’ve seen my potential. My face looks naked. It’s sort of like what it might be like to be forced to go back to tapered jeans. Someday my lashes will be long again. Some day . . . .

Copyright © North Shore News 2006