Forget nail art, and eyebrow threading. Havingis popular alternative with celebrity converts include Victoria Beckham. Plucky journalist Jennifer Howze gave them a road-test
Tears are pouring out of my eyes and an unbearably bright light makes me squirm, even with my eyes closed. Karen Betts is coming toward me with a pair of sharp tweezers -- I can hear the tinging of the pincers as they pinch together. They say it's not easy being pretty and it's true. I'm weeping and flinching under interrogation-level amps for the privilege of having long lush lashes
Imported from the US, 3d Lashes are purported to look more natural and wear more comfortably than the spiky versions that have come before. Unlike the DIY kinds that you apply in strips or clumps, these are individual lashes, attached to your existing lashes one by one and made of a synthetic material so light they don't weigh lids down. They supposedly last three months, although Betts, who trains aestheticians in applying the lashes, estimates two months is more realistic. Even so, the possibility of having eight entire weeks of forgoing mascara, looking alluring at dawn's first light and having fluttery feminine lashes a la screen goddesses of old is incredibly tempting.
I do have apprehensions, but Betts puts these to rest. Can I wear my contact lenses with these extensions? (Yes.) Will my longer lashes hit the lenses of my glasses? (No.) Could I possibly have an allergic reaction to the adhesive? (It doesn't touch the skin, as the lashes are glued to your own rather than the lid.) Would I look like a spider-eyed goth freak? (Er, no, although I did have the option of different lengths up to 14mm and colours, including Velvet Purple and Mountain Green.)
So I stretch out on a table and put myself under her power. Betts sits at my head, tapes down my lower lids and over the next hour and a half painstakingly applies lash by lash in standard black. My sensitive eyes water, my closed lids flutter and from time to time I can feel her picking at my lashes in search of the "youngest", shortest one to attach the falsies to, so they will last as long as possible. Despite all this, the procedure is entirely painless. I doze off a couple of times. Finally she says, 'Ok, all finished,' and I sit up to gaze at long Bambi lashes, inky, thick and natural looking. I flutter my lashes. The gamine girl in the mirror flutters hers back. My eyes have graduated to femme fatale status.
Of course, a girl's gotta put some effort into looking this good. That means no getting the lashes wet for the first two hours ("Yours may not last as long," says Betts, "because they were wet the entire time."). No using waterproof mascara or oily make-up removers, no curling your lashes, no rubbing your eyes, no steaming your face - the list goes on. Upon first reading, the list seemed onerous, but hewing to it was easy. I found I didn't even need mascara to emphasise my eyes. I began washing my face with a washcloth. I adapted my routine to accommodate the glamorous visitors on my lids and as a result they've been looking beautiful ever since. Six days after the first application one of the lashes did come out, as I was removing eyeliner -- it looked like a thick spider's leg. I placed it carefully on the edge of the shelf. I ponder getting a touch-up - Betts recommends having them every two to three weeks to keep the extensions looking full.
And the best thing about these lashes: while I notice the effect immediately, it's days before anyone else remarks on them. 'They look so natural,' purrs one friend, studying me intently. 'I didn't even notice!' cries another who's a critic of obvious beauty enhancers, before asking me where I got them done. It's brought a hopeful image to mind, of Betts, tweezers in hand, coming toward me under a bright white light..