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The mascara-free lash trend that will make you look instantly more awake


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Photo: Stocksy/ Sergey Filimonov
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On the matter of looking bright-eyed in a flash, I raise the following questions: What kind of price would you place on stepping out of the shower, wiping away the mirror fog, and gazing back at at a completely bare face with a perfectly curled swoop of darkened lashes? How much would you value a few extra moments of sleep in the morning, knowing that you could skip mascara and still look—shall we say—enlightened? These are questions worth considering now that one commitment-free, roughly $100 salon trip offers both.

The lash lift, AKA a lash perm, is my favorite unapologetic indulgence thanks to an eye-opening trip to Shen Beauty, Brooklyn’s original clean beauty destination. “It’s amazing because it truly enhances your eyes with no makeup,” says Jessica Richards, the boutique’s Laguna Beach-born founder, who swears by the lift’s appeal to “make your morning routine a few minutes quicker.” A low-maintenance alternative to extensions, the lift simply helps you work with what you’ve got.

In some cases, however, this is ahem, not much. A late-noughties obsession with eyelash strips (and careless removal) had whittled my natural set down to a lighter-than-air wisp, but after applying a generous swipe of Talika’s red clover blossom-infused Lipocils Expert Platinum serum ($119) across my tiny, baby-thin fringe, I was dealt a new hand. While my lashes grew longer, they were still straight and hovered over my line of vision, and so in hopes of finally achieving fringe nirvana, I set out for my first treatment.

Keep scrolling for the benefits of a lash lift and what you need to know about the process.

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The things to know about a lash lift

Apparently, just like the hair on your head, your lash curl is also genetic, notes Chicago dermatologist Jordan Carqueville, MD. “A lash serum prolongs the anagen growth phase of the follicle, which will result in the lengthening of your natural lashes—if you were born with straight lashes they may be more prominent in your vision, where curling may help,” she says.

Needless to say, I’d spent years coaxing a lash curl each morning, but I’d started to wonder if this could be doing me a disservice. “Manually curling can be damaging and pull out strands, and many mascaras are drying, making the lashes brittle, so skipping these steps is better for their health,” shares Lara Kaiser, Shen’s resident aesthetician. “A lash lift and tint should actually be beneficial for the lashes.”

Instead of daily crimping, the lift offers a three-step process that starts by shaping lashes around a perm rod, which gives Kaiser the chance to curve each one into the most flattering shape for its texture and length. Then, a processing solution is applied for about 15 minutes, touching only the lashes to protect delicate skin on the eyelid, and that is followed by a deep conditioning treatment which “is crucial to restore the integrity of the hair,” Kaiser tells me. To finish, a pregnancy-safe vegetable dye is applied for an inky tint that lasts about a month, though the lift continues for twice as long.

“Depending on your hair texture and lifestyle, this will last about 10 weeks—approximately the life of an eyelash,” Kaiser explains. Unlike falsies, which tend to strip your lashline, however, you simply return to normal uncrimped lashes once the effect has worn off.

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The reaction to my life-changing lash lift

At first glance, I was dazzled by the results—the gentle doe-eyed look seemed to take five years off of my face. I said nothing to my beau of the transformation, and he announced: “You look really pretty today!” And with that, I was certain—it was, indeed, subtle enough to deliver that elusive well-rested effect without the artificial drama of falsies.

As the weeks passed, my lashes grew out so naturally that I barely noticed the fading color and curl, and within a few months I was already dreaming of a repeat. Wondering if the same results could be accomplished at another reputable location, I called up The 60s Beauty Lash, an airy boutique on the outskirts of Chicago specializing in an equally natural adaptation that utilizes plant-based dye and even sends clients home with a recommended regimen of supplements to strengthen lashes between appointments.

“Do you sleep on your left side?” asked Sibyl Noyin, an aesthetician and lift expert (or in this case, artist), as she tenderly examined my lids under a magnifying glass. I confirmed her suspicions, and she noted that said lashes were significantly bent more than those on my right, something that Dr. Carqueville had mentioned could happen if you “train” strands in a certain direction. Noyin spent the next half hour meticulously placing my lashes on a carefully positioned silicon form, delicately styling each individual strand to create a uniform fan of perfectly separated fringe, with no hint of an asymmetrical pillow crease.

At the end of the treatment, I gazed back at the elegant, ultra-subtle curve and tint I’d requested—so gentle-yet-impactful that a dash of Bare Minerals tinted moisturizer ($30) and a pat of Kosas creme blush  ($34) on my cheeks, lids, and lips is all I now require to proudly traipse into public every day. And the last question I pose on the subject: Isn’t that the dreamy perk of spending a bit extra on self-care in the first place? 

Speaking of lashes, have you seen the CBD-infused mascara? And if you’re in the market for an eyelash serum, look no further. 

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