Ladies, I've discovered a beauty revolution. Having tried out more mascaras than I care to count and every different type of faux lash on the market, I had long been curious about the concept of semi-permanent eyelash extensions. So when the lovely folk at Lash Perfect invited me along to test out their swanky new Lash Bar, I found it very hard to resist.
While I'm lucky enough to be blessed with naturally dark lashes, mine are completely straight - lacking in the length and lift you get from a mascara: so I decided to give it a whirl. I've now had two salon sessions at the Lash Bar, and I think it's pretty safe to say that these are the early stages of a long-standing addiction...
What does it involve?: It's quite simply exactly as it sounds: extensions to your natural lashes. I sat down and had a good chat with my beauty therapist (the lovely Natalie P) about what I wanted the overall effect to be. Very aware of the fact that I had to go straight back to the office (and slightly worried that I'd end up looking like an extra from Priscilla Queen of the Desert) I opted for a natural look - so a half-set, rather than a full-set, with lashes only slightly longer than my own. (A half-set involves having the extensions added on every other lash, as opposed to every single one, for a slightly less 'obvious' effect.) I was told mine would last for 3-8 weeks. The extensions are bonded to your natural lashes using Lash Perfect's specially-formulated adhesive, and fall out as your natural lashes do.
The verdict: The Lash Bar is instantly calming - and a cliché, perhaps, but it really does feel like a small sanctuary in the middle of bustling Soho. The treatments take place on their beauty tables underneath a glass roof (a nice touch) and it was all I could do to stop myself from falling asleep during my hour appointment. The lash technicians were professional and friendly, and the extensions? Well, they get full marks from me. They have a slight curve, which means they automatically look fuller and more 'done' than your natural lashes, and the half-set meant that I was perfectly happy to head back to the office without feeling self conscious.
My lashes lasted a full four weeks before I had my first top-up appointment - with granted, a couple of noticeable gaps starting to show - but half an hour later and they were back to their best. The lashes are fairly sturdy: you can wash them, sleep in them, rub your eyes - and 99% of the time, you won't even notice that they're there. I've had so many compliments from friends and co-workers, ranging from: "Have you started using a new mascara?" to "I've never noticed how long your lashes were before." In short, I'm a massive fan, and I'm sticking with them.
Perfect for: Those who aren't blessed with naturally luscious lashes, or hate having to spend time applying mascara in the mornings (or even more to the point, taking it off at night!) Also great for festivals, holidays or swimmers: no risk of panda eyes, and no messing around with that pesky false lash glue.
Advice: While the extensions are relatively durable, you might notice that they last longer if you dial down on the eye makeup. Normally a liquid eyeliner addict, I've given up wearing eye makeup completely: it's just not needed. In my experience, any additional scrubbing or rubbing of the eyes will cause the extensions to fall out faster. I also recommend that you use the special makeup remover cloth (only £2) that you can buy from the salon - it prevents the fibres from cotton wool or face wipes getting snagging in the extensions. You can also purchase a lash serum, which works like a clear mascara and helps to style your lashes and add a touch of gloss in the mornings. If you decide you've had enough, you can go back at any time to have them safely removed. Do NOT try and pull them out yourself!
What's the damage: A half-set costs £60, while a full-set will set you back £120. The top-up appointment prices vary, depending on length of treatment and number of lashes you need replacing. My four week re-fill came in at £35, but if you had a 15 minute appointment every two weeks, it should only cost you around £15 a time for upkeep and tidying.
Sign me up: The Lash Perfect Lash Bar has just opened at: 35 Marshall Street, London, W1F 7EX. The website is currently under maintenance, so for more information call 020 7434 4554 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Goodbye panda eyes, farewell falsies - hello luscious low-maintenance lashes!