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Lashes -- Going to Extremes

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When it comes to beauty, is bigger really better? These days, women are going to extremes to enhance their feminine assets -- on their faces.

Joining the ranks of puckered pouts and frozen faces is the need for luscious, long lashes. Welcome to the eyelash era, which is quite literally, the fastest growing cosmetics trend on the market.

As always, these rituals go much further back than even our best anti-aging formulas can take us. Dating back to 4000 BC, many cultures considered long eyelashes a sign of femininity, and used makeup to enhance their eyes.

Alternatively, others, like the Tanzanian Hadza tribe, beautify their lashes by trimming them off. Sometimes, a little goes a long way, but westerners seem to have adopted the former preening practice.

In 1915, T.L. Williams created mascara for his sister Maybel, which would later be known as Maybelline (guess she wasn't born with it, either). False eye lashes were not popularized until the 1960s with our girls Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, and soon after Cher, whose lashes were longer than her entire career.

Today, permanent eyelash tints, eyelash extensions and even transplants (from the hair or our heads) have become common procedures. At this rate, I fear that eyelash comb-overs are not far behind!

In 2009, the prescription drug Latisse was introduced. Although it was originally developed as a drug for Glaucoma under the name Lumigan, its growth potential is still getting lash enthusiasts all a-flutter.

Studies have shown that Latisse can grow lashes about 50 per cent longer and twice as thick. However, there is a dark side to these darker lashes. In some cases, it can darken the skin around the eye, or even turn light eyes darker -- permanently! What's even more alarming? Those using it aren't batting an eyelash over these side effects. Obviously, women would rather look border-line Tammy Faye Baker than look at the big picture. Wouldn't you rather use a colour-enhancing, light-reflecting mascara for fully-loaded lashes? Your mascara may not be a miracle worker, but it is certainly less risky.

For those who want the drama without all that medical drama, there are other less-permanent solutions. I'm talking eyelash extensions, dips and even lash boosting eyeliners. Full-service eyelash salons are popping up faster than you can say 'Twiggy.' They deliver sets of extensions in synthetic materials like mink, so you get all the faux without harming the fur. 'Dipping' is a process that uses a hypoallergenic, semi-permanent waterproof mascara that stays put for up to six weeks. Safe for brown and blue-eyed beauties alike, when it comes to falsies, these are as real as it gets.

Today, young girls look up to Madonna, who once spent $10,000 on a pair of diamond encrusted lashes, and try their best to keep up with the Kardashians (maybe their falsies are what make them famous???) Seems unrealistic to meet these standards with a mere wave of a mascara wand. But let's not all toss our tubes just yet. Mascara is as carefree as it is clump-free, and that's a beautiful thing. Pick the right formula and the right brush and you have a bigger lash in a flash.

My favourite picks are:
Lancôme Définicils; always delivers beautiful depth to lashes
Dior DiorShow: great for transforming short lashes, giving a false-lash effect.
Maybelline Great Lash: classic... great bang for your buck!

Because no matter what the 'feature of the moment', authenticity beats manufactured beauty by a mile. And that's the lash word. ;)