PRODUCTS Perms, dyes and especially extensions, which involve strategically gluing individual fake lashes to add thickness and length
HOW IT STARTED Women grew weary of messing with mascara every day, and the cosmetic industry came calling
JUDGMENT CALL Extensions are nice, and while the jury is still out on perm safety, the FDA warns against dyes for this unapproved use
Katherine Harris jokes aside, women have always spent a lot of time on their eyelashes. But lately, the little things have been getting a new burst of fashion attention, with salons offering a host of mascara-free treatments ranging from eyelash extensions to tinting and perms.
Especially hot are extensions, in which a dozen or so individual hairs are glued onto the lash line and worn for a few weeks. "The effect is very subtle," says makeup artist Laura Mercier, who spruced up Sarah Jessica Parker for the Golden Globe Awards. "It's not like putting on a strip of fake eyelashes the way people did in the '70s." Celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Molly Shannon are flocking to Manhattan's J. Sisters International, where a 45-minute procedure--which the salon says is imported from the beach glamour of Brazil--costs $55. Demand for the treatment has jumped from a handful of extensions a week in 1999 to 30 a day.
Eyelash perms have been around longer, but they too are growing in popularity at places like the Ella Bache Spa in New York City. There, $65 will get you tinting and a perm that involves gluing lashes to a cotton roll and exposing them to curling chemicals for 20 minutes. But be careful; safety questions remain about some of these procedures. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any permanent dyes for the eye area, and some states outlaw them.
--By Julie Rawe