WHEN MORE IS MORE a one-woman cam­paign for lash re­growth

Elle (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

When screen le­gend Bette Davis was asked by Tonight Show host Johnny Car­son to name the best way an as­pir­ing ac­tress could get into Hol­ly­wood, she replied sim­ply: ‘Take Foun­tain’ – re­fer­ring to the av­enue that runs par­al­lel to Sun­set and Santa Monica Boule­vards. Bette was right. It’s still faster. I know, be­cause not long ago, I was speed­ing along Foun­tain in the back of a cab, late for an in­ter­view, ap­ply­ing mas­cara and curl­ing my lashes, when, in the midst of my squeeze, squeeze, squeez­ing, the brakes were slammed: my body jerked for­ward and back, and I was left star­ing in shock at the Shi­seido curler in my hand, where my eye­lashes were gripped, ripped from my lid. Next, an ear-split­ting scream and a check in my com­pact’s mir­ror. My lash­less eye ap­peared rep­til­ian, freak­ish. The av­er­age up­per eye­lid flut­ters be­tween 100 to 150 lashes. Mine now had zero. More fran­tic re­search: de­pend­ing on when lashes are pulled in the grow­ing cy­cle, to­tal re­growth can take about two months. How pa­tient could I be?

At the first sight of eye­lash stub­ble, I de­cided to ex­pe­dite the bloom us­ing Latisse fer­tiliser, pre­scribed by my der­ma­tol­o­gist, Sh­eryl Clark, MD. ‘Within two weeks, your eye­lashes will get longer and darker,’ she as­sured me. ‘Keep us­ing it and they’ll get thicker.’ Given my pale skin, Clark warned, my eye­lids could turn red, but dis­con­tin­u­ing Latisse di­min­ishes the red­ness. (Yes, it hap­pened, and yes, it did.) I also asked her thoughts on the warn­ing in the pack­age insert about the risk of hav­ing your iris colour turn brown. When an iden­ti­cal prod­uct called Lu­mi­gan is used di­rectly in the eye to treat glau­coma, a very small num­ber of pa­tients have got­ten brown flecks in their irises, Clark ex­plained. ‘There’s never been a case that I’m aware of when us­ing it for eye­lashes,’ she said. ‘One thing I have seen, and it’s not com­mon: you have fat cells be­hind your eye­ball and it can shrink those adipocytes and make your eyes look a little sunken. Stop Latisse and it re­turns to nor­mal.’ Good to go, I go and grow while im­mers­ing my­self in all things lashre­lated, start­ing with falsies – a rage that be­gan in 1916, when si­lent-film di­rec­tor DW Grifth out­fit­ted his In­tol­er­ance star Seena Owen with a be­spoke set sewn by his wig­maker and ap­plied with spirit gum. A cen­tury later, I tested nine fake makes, their ap­pli­ca­tion be­ing the beauty equiv­a­lent of an ex­treme sport that, to win, re­quires 10 000 hours of prac­tice, pa­tience and an oc­ca­sional Ati­van. My hard-earned tips, so you don’t end up with ‘llama lashes’, that drag-queen de­light, or with your eye sealed shut: avoid lashes mounted on a black strip – a sure bust for coun­ter­feit­ing. Never use the whole strip; cut each in half and ap­ply to the outer lids for a cat-eye ef­fect, or mid-lid for round, eye-open­ing im­pact. Use glue su­per-spar­ingly (def­i­nitely not to be con­fused with su­per-glue spar­ingly), and only one that comes in a tube with an eye­liner-like ap­pli­ca­tor. Of all the fakes I tried, I loved Ardell Faux Mink with in­vis­i­band best. They’re wispy, weight­less and ul­tra-au na­turel. And cheap! Mag­netic lashes aren’t pricey, ei­ther. I or­dered an ar­ray, and not one of them worked. No amount of time, pa­tience and help from my next-door neigh­bour got them si­t­u­ated any­where close to cor­rectly. I even asked my der­ma­tol­o­gist to give them a go. ‘I couldn’t get them on!’ Clark re­ported back, warn­ing that re­moval was tricky too. ‘You have to slide them apart,’ she ex­plained, so you risk pulling out your real lashes sand­wiched in be­tween. Over time, ‘you can scar the fol­li­cle and if it’s gone, you can’t make a hair. They never grow back.’ Two months post-whiplash, my own eye­lashes are back big-time and my lash ma­nia is at an all-time high: 30 000 feet over the At­lantic on an Air France flight, to be ex­act. I’m go­ing to in­ves­ti­gate the lat­est in­no­va­tion in mas­cara at LVMH’s top-se­cret Hélios Re­search Cen­tre, a two-hour drive out­side Paris. Ru­mour has it that their rad sci­en­tist, Yo­hann Bi­chon, has master­minded a new for­mula us­ing a covert in­gre­di­ent pop­u­lar with NASA engi­neers, which 90% of testers said gave them a ‘dra­matic in­crease’ in vol­ume. Bright-eyed and bushy-lashed, I pull into the LVMH lab­o­ra­tory park­ing lot, where I’m met by a man in black who in­sists I sign a form in which I agree to be­have and fol­low ‘the Fun­da­men­tal Safety Rules’, which in­clude: ‘I don’t run. I don’t de­ac­ti­vate safety de­vices. I don’t touch elec­tric boards with­out au­tho­ri­sa­tion...’ Why is it that just reading the rules makes me want to break them? I en­ter the LVMH mother ship, a mas­sive steel and glass struc­ture, where I’m greeted by hunky model as­tro­nauts in sil­ver space suits so tight you can see the rock­ets in their pock­ets. (Se­ri­ously.) ‘We’ve been work­ing on this mas­cara for four years,’ says Julie Bell, Ex­ec­u­tive Vice-Pres­i­dent of Global Mar­ket­ing & In­no­va­tion at Ben­e­fit Cos­met­ics, un­veil­ing a tube of BAD­gal BANG! Vo­lu­miz­ing Mas­cara on the screen be­hind her. ‘For four years, we’ve tor­tured our sci­en­tists!’ She laughs... but is she kid­ding? Bell turns the floor over to LVMH Re­search Ex­ec­u­tive Vi­cePres­i­dent Bruno Bavouzet, who isn’t so much tor­tured as just très French, and très proud of the 300 sci­en­tists and re­searchers who work on their brands (which also in­clude Dior, Fresh and Guer­lain). On cue, Bell hands out tubes of BAD­gal BANG! ‘You’re go­ing to see some­thing that’s never been shared with any­one,’ she says, lead­ing us up to the sec­ond-floor lab­o­ra­tory, where we re­ceive lab coats and pro­tec­tive glasses and are in­vited to dip our fingers into beakers of hard wax, pig­ments, poly­mers, soft wax and the sil­ver bul­let: ‘aeropar­ti­cles’, a space-age, al­most-lighter-than-air sub­stance that al­lows build­able, weight­less lashes. Three coats later, my lashes look as­tro­nom­i­cal in­deed. The next morn­ing, I take off for New York, hav­ing still not taken off yesterday’s mas­cara – de­ter­mined to test the claim of its 36-hour stay­ing power. (It did stay, and then some; and I can only hope it doesn’t re­tain that power in my wash­cloth.) Back in Man­hat­tan, scrolling through In­sta­gram pho­tos, I catch a post of Hi­lary Duff’s arm bear­ing a fresh tat­too in fancy script: ‘Take Foun­tain.’ I won­der if Duff knows just how Bette Davis re­ally, truly got ahead in Hol­ly­wood. The an­swer was in her make-up bag. ‘Do you want to know the se­cret of my suc­cess?’ Davis asked her bi­og­ra­pher, Char­lotte Chan­dler. ‘Easy. Brown mas­cara.’ No sur­prise, it’s all about the eyes.

Con­tain­ing a covert in­gre­di­ent pop­u­lar with NASA engi­neers, Ben­e­fit BAD­gal BANG! Vo­lu­miz­ing Mas­cara, R295

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