If the eyes are the windows to the soul, then the eyelashes are the curtains that enhance their beauty and give them depth. Eyelash products have come a long way since 4,000 B.C., when Egyptians relied on kohl, a powdery mix of soot and metal, to define eyes, lashes, and brows. Through the years, innovative eyelash products have been introduced to the market, but today, eyelash conditioners, which are formulated to nurture lashes and leave them with a fuller, thicker, and healthier appearance, are all the rage.
According to Michael Brinkenhoff, M.D., president and CEO of Athena Cosmetics, makers of RevitaLash, lush eyelashes are generally considered to be an attractive enhancement for the eyes, and they also provide a number of functional benefits. "Eyelashes protect the eyes from debris in the air and shield the eyes from exposure to ultraviolet radiation," he says. "Healthy eyelashes function optimally and look their best with the aid of an effective eyelash conditioner." There are a growing number of eyelash conditioners available today. While Allergan's Latisse is the first and only prescription treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), skincare companies worldwide have introduced their own versions of the eyelash treatment. "There is such a fine line between drugs and cosmetics in the industry," says Brian Brazeau, vice president of marketing and sales for B. Kamins Chemist, which offers its own eyelash conditioner called Eyelash Fortifier. "It's a challenge when you want people to know that your product really works without actually saying it is going to speed the growth of lashes. Saying that claim makes it a drug."
Jan Marini, founder and CEO of Jan Marini Skin Research, finds this issue of terminology a challenge, as well, when informing clients about her Marini Lash Eyelash Conditioner. "Even if I have fantastic before-and-after pictures to show how effective the product is, I can't legally say it makes eyelashes grow," says Marini. Therefore, non-prescription eyelash conditioners usually state that, with continued use, eyelashes can appear fuller, thicker, and healthier.
A Lashing Impact
Latisse, which is offered by prescription and at select medical spas nationwide, contains the active ingredient bimatoprost, which prolongs the growth phase of the eyelash hair. Non-prescription lash conditioners, on the other hand, are often enriched with vitamins, antioxidants, and plant and fruit extracts. These natural ingredients help create an ideal environment for conditioning, strengthening, and hydrating lashes.
Under These Conditions
Formulated to work alone or in conjunction with the client's mascara, these products are often recommended for use at night, so that the lashes can soak up the products' ingredients, revealing healthier and more hydrated lashes each morning. No two eyelash conditioners are the same, so spa owners should research their options in order to choose the best one for their clients and also to provide clients with accurate usage information.
Brittle and fragile lashes are something that many women today face due to a number of reasons, including aging and lack of hydration. Unlike the hair cycle, which ranges anywhere from six months to seven years, eyelashes have a much shorter cycle, ranging from 30 to 60 days. "By conditioning and softening the hair shaft with an eyelash conditioner, brittleness is reduced, and the hair fiber is nourished from the outer cortex to the inner medulla, thus improving the overall health and beauty of eyelashes," says Brinkenhoff. While spas continue to profit from services such as eyelash extensions, eyelash conditioners provide a more economical and less dramatic alternative for achieving a similar effect. As a result, spas can benefit from offering an eyelash conditioner application as an add-on service. At LakeHouse Spa at Lake Austin Spa Resort (Texas), clients can opt for the Lavish Lashes, Eyes and Brows ($65, 25 minutes) treatment, which helps strengthen lashes and brows using the B. Kamins Chemist Eyelash Fortifier. Because one application is often not enough, Brazeau suggests building the cost of the product into the treatment and then giving it to the guest for continuous at-home use.
While adding an eyelash conditioner application to treatments is one way to introduce clients to the product, offering it in a retail setting is another way to get it noticed. "Eyelash conditioners are incremental products, which means clients don't have to stop using their current skincare products to try them," says Brazeau. "It's an impulse purchase—an easy way for a spa to increase revenue." Because it is recommended that clients use the eyelash conditioner daily, they will have to purchase another tube of it a few months later to maintain the results. Marini recommends developing a continuity program, in which a spa will automatically send the client a new tube every six months or so. "This makes it easy for clients to maintain their lashes, and it eliminates the worry about clients using another product or going to another place to purchase it," says Marini. "People are crazy about eyelashes these days, and spas offering these products are smart to notice this incredible revenue source." —Nicole Palmieri