Eyelash Enhancement: 5 Techniques to Give Your Eyelashes a Thicker, More Youthful Appearance

eyelash enhancement

Permanent eyelash enhancement techniques will save you time – and money. Drs. Babak Azizzadeh and Jessie Cheung share their secrets.

It’s the desire of every woman to have fuller, thicker, longer eyelashes. That’s because we girls innately understand how dressing up our eyes makes us look more alive, feminine and youthful. It’s important to us. So if you feel like your lashes are thin, sparse or non-existent and would like them to appear fuller, take heart, there are a variety of short and long term eyelash enhancement methods out there that really help.

Curiously enough, believing our eyes are more important than any of our other facial features is not just something we imagine. Studies have shown that our minds are conditioned to associate full open eyes with youth – and even more so with full upper eyelids. It’s even been suggested that fuller eyes make a person appear more professional, backed up by studies showing how looking into fuller, open eyes elicits confidence, trust and positive emotions in others.

Thankfully, there are a variety of ways to achieve longer, thicker, fuller lashes in both the short and long term. We’ve asked two experts on the subject to help us explore the options.

Eye makeup

The simplest way to enhance the eyes is by using eye makeup on an everyday basis. Eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara are among the fastest growing segments of the entire U.S. cosmetics industry. Mascara alone generates more than 1.2 billion dollars annually.

In the overall short term, eye cosmetics are the most cost-effective option for eyelash enhancement. While mascara can provide daily lash enhancement, if you’d rather save time with your daily makeup routine, there are any number of techniques that can be used to gain more permanent eyelash enhancement.

Eyelash enhancement tattoo

One way to acquire longer lashes is by getting an eyelash enhancement tattoo.

Lash line tattoo

“To enhance eyelashes, tattoos are placed directly along the base of the lashes, covering any open spots between the lashes to create the illusion of them being fuller, thicker,” says dermatologist Dr. Jessie Cheung. Upper eyelashes are arranged in two to three rows. This method tattoos tiny dots of color between the lashes along the eyelid to fill in between the three layers. The color chosen is most often black but blue, brown, purple or green can also be used, all helping to bring out the color and shape of the eyes.

“This eyelash base enhancement is different from the traditional eyeliner tattoo, which extends past the base of the eyelashes to add depth to the eyes,” explains Dr. Cheung.

Eyeliner tattoo

A permanent eyeliner tailored to the thickness of your choice can be tattooed on both the top and bottom eyelids, although it’s more commonly done on the upper eyelids.

The cost of eyelash enhancement and lash line tattoos ranges between $600-$800 for the upper eyelid and $300-$400 for the lower eyelid.

eyelash tattoo

Eyelash extensions

False eyelashes purchased from the store are a cheap and convenient way to extend your lashes for that special occasion. However, they only last 1-2 days at best. And let’s face it, most of us don’t have time every morning to attach false eyelashes.

Thankfully, “there are many eyelash extension methods, ranging from a single lash attached per native eyelash, to the ‘volume lash,’ where there are multiple lashes attached to a single eyelash,” informs Dr. Cheung. “There are subtle differences between the thickness of each extension, the degree of curl, and the angle of placement on the native lash.”

“Most extensions are kept to the upper lash, although the lower lash can also be treated for a more dramatic look,” continues Dr. Cheung. “A full set of lashes can take up to two hours to apply, depending on how many lashes will be placed, while touch-ups may only take thirty minutes.”

eyelash extension

Since the lash extensions are attached to your own lashes, technically they can survive a full growth cycle of roughly 4-8 weeks. However, for best effects, “most treatments will last from 2-4 weeks before requiring a touch up,” says Dr. Cheung. “Beyond this, some of the natural lashes will likely have grown out or fallen out – as eyelashes naturally do. Overall, the longevity of eyelash extensions will depend on the skill of the technician aligning the lash correctly, the quality of glue, and the number of lashes used.”

Dr. Cheung says that the cost for eyelash extensions ranges from $50-$500, much of which is based on geographic location and the skill of the technician.

Eyelash enhancement serum

There are a variety of eyelash enhancement serums available, including Latisse, City Lash, Obagi Elastilash Eyelash Solution, Marini Lash Revitalash, SmartLash, neuLash, and Rapidlash.

Latisse has been extensively tested and is approved as safe and effective by the FDA,” says facial plastic surgeon Dr. Babak Azizzadeh. “I only recommend Latisse to my patients because other over-the-counter options have not been reviewed and tested by the FDA.”

Effects of Latisse after 16 weeks of application. Image credits: Jones D.

Interestingly, the Latisse product came about by accident. When researchers were looking at the active ingredient ‘bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%’ for the treatment of glaucoma, significant eyelash growth was noted in 42.6 percent of their subjects. With further testing, the serum was found to be effective for eyelash enhancement in 78 percent of the study’s participants.

Regardless of the state of your eyelashes, Latisse can be used to stimulate hair growth, and achieve longer, thicker lashes within a short timeframe.”When applied regularly and correctly, Latisse can produce longer, thicker, and darker lashes in as little as four weeks,” says Dr. Azizzadeh. “Latisse works from the inside out, affecting the lash growth stage in two ways. First, it lengthens the growth stage of the lashes and secondly, it increases the numbers of hairs that are produced during the growth stage. The result is longer, fuller, darker lashes.”

Using disposable applicators that come with the Latisse product, the serum is applied nightly to the skin of the upper eyelid at the base of the eyelashes. “Patients begin to notice results around the fourth week of using Latisse, results which continue to improve over time,” says Dr. Azizzadeh.

After 16 weeks, studies show there is an average 25 percent increase in lash length, a 106 percent increase in thickness, and an 18 percent increase in darkness. “After a few months of treatment, some patients have such a marked improvement in their lashes that they only use the product every other day to maintain their lashes instead of nightly. And the results of Latisse last for as long as you continue to use the product,” adds Dr. Azizzadeh.

Overall, people using Latisse report feeling deeper satisfaction with their eyelashes, more confidence in their looks, and happy with the time it saves in their daily routine.

You need to be extremely careful when applying Latisse because if the solution gets into the eyes it can cause side effects such as conjunctival hyperemia (6.1%), eye pruritus (3%), eyelid pigmentation (6.1%), eye dryness, a burning sensation in the eye, eye pain, and short term visual disturbance. Iris pigmentation can also occur in some cases, and if it does it’s likely to be permanent.

Latisse should be avoided when pregnant and in nursing mothers.

The cost of Latisse depends on size of the bottle purchased. For a small bottle of 70 applications, you’re looking at upwards of $80.

Eyelash transplants

It is not uncommon for people with weak, damaged, or missing eyelashes to consider getting an eyelash transplant. The surgery was first performed on people who had no eyelashes due to genetics or alopecia, as well as those who had suffered trauma such as burns. These days it’s most frequently, if not exclusively, used for cosmetic enhancement.

Eyelash transplantation redistributes live hair follicles from the back of the scalp into the eyelid follicles. There can be anywhere from 25 to 100 hairs transplanted and the procedure takes approximately 2-3 hours. Transplanted hairs fall out at around 2 weeks post-eyelash transplant and then start to regrow at 3 months, where they will continue to grow for a lifetime.

With careful placement and angling of the transplanted hairs during the procedure, the growth will appear natural. The only downside is that transplanted hair retains the same characteristics as head hair, meaning it will continue to grow. Therefore, your newly established lashes will need regular trimming and curling about once per month.

Complications of eyelash transplantation are rare but can include pain, bleeding, thick scar formation, numbness, and eyelid ptosis.

The cost of eyelash transplants can range anywhere from $1500-$4000.

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