Let’s be clear here: These are not your run-of-the-mill faux eyelashes that you can pick up from Sephora for five bucks. No, these are eyelash extensions, and they involve an individual long, full lash being painstakingly attached, one at a time, to your natural cilium, until each eyelash has a taller, better-looking buddy glued to it.
K.P. Murray, who trained to become a licensed esthetician at DC’s Aveda Institute, noticed in 2010 that there was a growing market for eyelash extensions, but no local salons that specialize in the service. So in 2012, she opened her own: Elle Lash Bar, the only salon in the area that’s devoted to eyelash services, including extensions, perming, and tinting.
According to Murray, the trend actually dates back to 1916, when film director D.W. Griffith said he wanted an actress with lashes that “brushed her cheeks, to make her eyes shine larger than life.” Wig makers started using human hair woven through gauze to create imitation lashes, and in the ’60s, Twiggy’s dramatic long-lashed look inspired women across the country to imitate her. Today, thanks to Jennifer Lopez’s use of red fox fur at the 2001 Academy Awards, mink hair is the fiber of choice for glossy, lighter-than-air lashes.
If you’re ready to jump on the extensions bandwagon, do note: The lash application takes about an hour and a half, and it isn’t cheap; a basic set will run you $225 to $300, and getting the mink kind adds an additional $45 to your bill. Plus, your natural lashes shed every two months, so you’ll need a 45-minute “relash” appointment every two to three weeks to maintain the look.
So why do women do it?
For one thing, no more mascara. “We get a lot of complaints about mascara. Many women feel it’s messy and a pain to deal with and remove,” says Murray. “Extensions are so popular because it provides women with a long-term alternative. It will make your lashes look like you’re always wearing mascara.”
For another thing, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. “It’s actually about low-maintenance beauty for women on a day-to-day basis. It seems high-maintenance, but it’s really done for low-maintenance reasons,” says Murray. “Many women maintain them as an everyday addition to their beauty routine because it’s easier than mascara and makes you look absolutely beautiful.”
Elle Lash Bar. 621 Pennsylvania Ave., Ste. 2; 202-488-1444.