Thanks to my Scottish heritage, I am very fair. I'm talking SPF-50-in-the-shade, burnt-after-10-minutes-in-the-sun fair. While this means summer is often a stretched-out nightmare for me, it also means that I'm not blessed with strong brows or fluttery lashes. I have my eyebrows threaded and tinted every month but I've never considered lash treatments, thanks to the wonders of Shu Uemura curlers and an array of mascaras. But I was going on vacation and really wanted to just wake up, run to the beach, and not have to decide between applying lashings of waterproof mascara or looking like a newborn mole.
So in my quest to achieve effortlessly awake eyes, I did my research. Wanting something natural and subtle, I bypassed extensions and landed on a lash lift. I've had my brows shaped at London's Nails & Brows in the Mayfair neighborhood before, so I was interested in its YUMI Lash Lift. According to the website, this service promises "your natural lashes only better: This new lash enhancing treatment boosts your lashes without the need for extensions. Lashes are lifted and ‘set’ for eye-opening results that last the natural life cycle of your lashes." Intrigued, I booked an appointment.
This is what my lashes looked like before the lift. As you can see, the hooded shape of my lids pushes my lashes down, meaning they don't have the most natural curl in the world. I look like I don't have any lashes at all 99% of the time, so I was really hoping the folks at Nails & Brows could work their magic. I went in for a patch test 48 hours before the treatment. This is integral, as founder Sherrille Riley explains: "In my 20 years in the beauty industry, I have only seen one reaction – however, I would not recommend having any treatment without a patch test prior. When we are dealing with products so closely to the eyes, you would never want to take the risk of an allergic reaction.”
With nothing on my eyes, I sat down in the lovely London salon, ready for the three-step treatment. First, a silicone pad was applied to my upper lids. Your eyes are shut for the entirety of the treatment, but this part was really cooling, eliminating the puffy morning eyes I usually have. Next, my lashes were individually swept up to the silicone pad, set in place with a lifting serum. Despite the pictures looking rather extreme, this didn't hurt or feel uncomfortable at all, and no serum was accidentally squeezed into my eyes. Next, a fixing serum was coated onto the lashes to hold in place, and left there for about 20 minutes.
After removing the serum, a lash tint was applied before the silicone pads were gently pulled away. Finally, a conditioner was applied to prevent the treatment from drying out my lashes, and giving an overall glossy effect – much like a conditioner for your hair. Here's what they looked like straight after the treatment:
Pretty good, huh? I was told not to use any oil-based cleansers or go under water for 24 hours, and to use the conditioner for the next 48 hours, which was pretty simple and easy aftercare. While my lashes had improved immediately after the treatment, it was the days following that really had me hooked. Friends commented on how full they looked, and my boyfriend asked if I still had makeup on at bedtime (I'm a vigilant double-cleanser, so bless him for the concern). It was so liberating waking up and looking in the mirror, knowing I could just roll out of the house, skipping my usual curl-and-three-mascaras-routine.
I was worried that come holiday time, the tint would fade and the curl would straighten out in the sun, but no: They looked as dark and long as ever, and lasted a week in the pool and scorching heat. I'm still wowed by how curled they are — they really open my eyes, and yet still look like the natural lashes I wanted. None have fallen out, which is another small miracle as my lashes are really weak. The treatment lasts for a regular eyelash cycle, so most people can expect to see a fade of color and curl between 8-12 weeks, but on week two, they're still looking as strong as ever. As mentioned earlier, my lashes are weak, fair and sparse, but the salon told me that everyone can have this treatment. For me, the showstopper of the whole thing? My new lashes with mascara:
Look at them! I'm so used to heating my curlers, then using three types of mascara (to prime, fan, and fatten) but this is what my eyes look like after one – I repeat, one – slick of Benefit's They're Real. At £86 every 12 weeks — that's about $110 in USD — it's around the same price as a brow treatment every three weeks, and think of all the money you'll save on eye makeup removers and mascara. So will I be returning for more? You can bet your bottom dollar. I'm hooked. It's the same feeling I got when I discovered eyebrow tinting and threading: My face appears more open, my beauty routine has been cut in half, and I'm never going back.