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The Girlfriend's Guide to Health will be updated every Tuesday.... Stay tuned dear readers and let me rock your world.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Real Deal

Is anything real anymore my dear girlfriends? Have we witnessed the loss of all authenticity? From hair extensions, to breast enhancements, from cheeks and teeth and chin implants. From highlights to brow lifts and everything in between. There are the “chicken cutlets” in my bra at this very moment and the colouring I have “touched up” every 6 weeks to cover all things grey.

If I want 100% natural these days, I had best find it at an organic food market.

And just when I thought I had seen it all I found out that yes, even eyelashes can be extended! Is there nothing in the world of beauty we can’t learn to live with? My hair is curly…. I can get a Brazilian blow out. My hair is graying… bring on the dye. My bottom lip does not exist. Should I decide to forgo my “lip-plumping lipstick” I could have my pucker permanently plumped with a collagen injection every 8-10 weeks.

And now my eyelashes can be treated with fuzzy little caterpillar made of chinchilla hair that can be semi-permanently glued on for about a month. I know I sound like I am raging against the beauty machine.

I am not.

I am a fan of my lip plumping lipstick. I like that after sitting in my colourist’s chair every six weeks affords me the opportunity to look five years younger.

I am a huge fan of said chicken cutlets nestling comfortably in my push up at this very moment. The only time I liked being an “A" was in academics. In all matters of the bra, I am happy as a “C-student”.

That being said, I now have to ask people if their eyelashes are real. Before such questions could be relegated to breasts and hair colour. Now we have broadened the field….

I was at a dinner party last week and was seated across from a lovely woman with equally lovely brown eyes…. This was a girl crush waiting to happen. I remarked that she had beautiful eyes and the longest eyelashes I had ever seen when she took a sip of her Sauvignon Blanc and said quite matter-of-factly, “They’re fake.”

“Really?” I said between bites…. I mean what do you say? My girl crush had just told me her eyelashes were fake. What is the polite response?

“Yes,” she remarked, “I have eyelash extensions put on every 8 weeks.”


Bad news was nothing was real anymore. Good news…. I had a subject for my next blog. Every bleak life realization has a silver lining. If beauty is an artificial illusion, the least I can do is investigate.

Unlike false eyelashes, where synthetic lashes are applied to the eyelid and then removed after usage, eyelash extensions are applied directly to the natural eyelash with a bonding agent and can last up to six weeks. These bonding agents and glues are irritants and can cause discomfort and potential eye damage in severe cases.

Repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause Traction Alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft. As a result this can damage the hair follicle, which can slow down and even cease production of hair.

The risk of this from patent application papers appears to be about 1% of patients.

In other words…. For every 100 sisters with beautiful doe eyes…. There’s one unfortunate soul with a bald set peepers….

I’ve noticed lately on my way to fourty that my eyelashes are not as robust as they used to be. Actually what really happened is that I arrived home from that dinner party and studied my eyelashes, as only a truly neurotic woman can, in one of those awfully judgmental magnifying bathroom mirror.

The judgment is in…. my lashes are definitely thinner than in years past…. But I will not succumb to extensions. Firstly I will need two hours every 8 weeks in which I must sit still and pay $200 for the experience. Secondly… this will be a permanent time commitment that I will need to repeat every 8 weeks for the rest of my life.

I suck at sitting still. Hell, I’m on holidays right now and trying not to lose my mind from the veritable thrill of relaxation. Sitting still without pharmaceuticals is a chore best left to the lazy and the infirmed.

There is another option. A drug known as bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03% or Latisse (it’s trade name) has been developed and shown in randomized trials to provide effective and significant eyelash growth.

Back in 2001, a pharmaceutical company called Allergan developed a medicated eye drop used to treat ocular hypertension. In addition to successfully lowering eye pressure (the only treatable risk factor for glaucoma), many patients using this medication experienced a side effect — they began to grow longer, fuller and darker lashes.

One woman’s glaucoma is another woman’s Max Factor.

This led Allergan to begin its study of this medication’s active ingredient, bimatoprost, for the sole purpose of generating lash growth. After conducting a clinical trial on safety and efficacy for 4 months on 278 patients, LATISSE® earned its FDA approval in December 2008.

The drug is due to launch in Canada in September, 2010.

And so another week ends with another realization. Nothing lasts forever and much of what we see is a manufactured illusion. I can accept that. Hell, I can even be a part of the wave…. WE can make our hair darker and longer, our breasts larger and higher and our eyelashes thicker and fuller.

Designer clothes for designer body parts… Before you judge too harshly, make sure you check on the inside. As with all luxury items you’ll be sure to find a label that confirms said item is in fact the real deal.

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