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Are Your Eyelashes Thinning As You Age?

Here's one thing you can do about it.

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When I was a teen, my mother’s friends swooned over my long lashes. They were still long in my 20s and 30s when I had to try on several sunglasses to find a pair that let me blink without my eyelashes touching the lens. I never wore mascara.

Fast forward a couple of decades — what happened? With everything else Father Time takes away (tight skin, taut bodies), why must he come for our lashes? Eyelashes, like eyebrows, become thinner and shorter in midlife and lose their curl.

Long eyelashes are a source of pride for women. A little boy with long, curling lashes used to be told, “You should have been a girl.” Men’s eyelashes tend to be slightly longer and thicker than women’s, probably due to testosterone, which promotes hair growth.

In either gender, short lashes are a little under a quarter of an inch long, while long ones are slightly over half an inch long. Such a tiny difference between the two would seem of little consequence, yet fractions of an inch matter on the human face — on the nose, mouth and eyelashes! I thought maybe eyelash extensions would make me look better.

So, while doing errands, I found myself suddenly turning into a local walk-in salon.

I am usually someone who strives to look natural. I have never painted my lips black nor my toenails green. I dye my graying hair brown, not pink or lavender. I’ve never even worn shapewear. It was an anomaly for me to be sitting waiting for falsies (false eyelashes, that is).

One summer long ago, I worked at a company called Milady Brassiere. The in-house model had high cheekbones and eyelashes that stuck out like a shelf. They were so thick and heavy I wondered how she could blink. I did not want that bristle brush look.

However, since my days at Milady, outright artifice has gained increasing acceptance.

Orange and blue hip-length hair extensions are unnatural but glorious! Long striped or patterned fingernails are impractical but vibrant! By contrast, augmenting my lashes seemed minor.

Shelly, the cosmetologist, ushered me into my seat. Young girls, she told me, want a more dramatic look and prefer longer lashes. Women my age prefer a gentler enhancement. She tipped the chair back and applied tape to the skin above my eyelid, making it taut for her work. Then she put a tiny dab of glue on one of my lashes and placed a synthetic clump — one long lash and about 10 tiny ones — on top. One by one, Shelly glued about 15 clumps in total. When she finished my left eye, she gave me a tiny battery-run fan to help dry the glue while she worked on the right eye.

Both eyes took less than 20 minutes and cost me $40. (As with any beauty procedure, costs vary widely, from $20 to $200.)

I was warned not to get them wet because water would dissolve the glue. (Try washing your hair wearing ski goggles!) I was also cautioned not to use mascara because removing it would dislodge the new lashes, which would last three or four weeks with proper care.

I looked in the mirror at the salon. The person staring back at me had these amazing eyes. And those lashes! I walked out with a smile, which was probably still there when I passed a man who turned to say, “Hello!” Was it the lashes or my smile?

Then I ran into someone I knew. “Look at my eyes! I just got eyelash extensions! I was worried they’d feel heavy, but I don’t feel them at all!”

“They look wonderful,” she said. “Really great.”

My husband said my new eyelashes made me look younger. Maybe I’ll wear them forever!

I began to notice other women with false eyelashes. Virtually every female newscaster has them. So does my dental hygienist. I was part of a movement!

After several days, a few false eyelashes fell out. I found one clump on my cheek and another on my pillow. By the second week, instead of curling up for that wide-eyed look, the artificial lashes began to stick to each other and extend at odd angles. Since they were attached to my actual lashes, the false ones grew with them, reaching unnatural lengths before dropping away. By the 12th day, they were mostly gone.

My takeaway? Perhaps I’ll use eyelash extensions for a special occasion — a gala or a class reunion. But I’ll remove them sooner because as the days pass, they look a little peculiar. And I’ll never wear them in the summer when I like to swim.

Back to my first day with them, when I was still in the honeymoon stage, I went to a friend’s house for dinner. As soon as I took off my coat, I told her about my lashes. (Privately, I thought she’d be a great candidate for them.) She didn’t seem impressed. No doubt, she had more important things to think about. She opened the oven to check on our meal.

The next day, she texted me: “Where did you get your lashes done?”

Have any of you ever worn false eyelashes? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle