My niece and nephew have eyelashes movie stars dream of. They hang like willow trees, casting a light shadow under their eyes. You could seek refuge from the rain under them. When the kids lean in for a hug, you feel that canopy of lashes brush against your cheek.
They did not inherit them from me. Instead, I'm the aunt with stumpy lashes looking on with envy as I make do with my daily regimen of one gold Shu Uemura lash curler (three pumps), followed by generous coats of whatever volumizing mascara I've been told will give me the luscious lashes I crave.
A few years ago, a salon offered me lash extensions. I jumped at the opportunity at first, but found myself chickening out on the table. Fearful I'd emerge looking like Miss Piggy, I instructed the aesthetician to go as natural as possible. After fidgeting with my eyes sewn shut for the better part of two hours, I emerged with lashes that were indeed natural-looking. They were a bit longer, but far from thick and luscious. I instantly wished I'd asked for a bit more volume.
My new lashes were so subtle that they didn't make a remarkable difference — until they started to fall out. Suddenly, my own lashes were floating away, casualties of an eye rub or close encounter with a mascara wand. They were sparser and more anemic-looking than ever, but I didn't want to pay the hundreds of dollars it would have cost for more extensions.
Since then, I've settled for my eyelash curler and mascaras that promise miracles. On the odd night out, I'll dabble with fake lashes, but I have yet to make it through an evening during which they don't land in a martini glass or get yanked off when I tire of having my peripheral vision blocked by a spidery, black scrim.
Recently, another option emerged. I was getting a manicure at Nails and Brows in London's Mayfair area when I discovered the Yumi Lash Enhacement. The lash-boosting treatment, created by Swiss derma-pigmentologist Sandra Viglino, is exclusive to the salon and Harrods.
When Nails and Brows founder Sherrille Riley described Yumi as "the perfect alternative to lash extensions, enhancing the eyes in the most powerful, natural way," I was sold. I just wasn't exactly sure what I was buying, so to speak.
I struggled to explain what I was getting done to friends during the days before my appointment. No, not a perm. Not extensions. Not false lashes. I resorted to a sort of backward wave to mimic my lashes naturally growing longer and flapping in an imaginary breeze. Then, I shrugged as my friends narrowed their eyes and tried to puzzle out what I was on about.
Here's what happened.