Cosmetics have been used to enhance the beauty and intrigue of the eye since the ancient Egyptians applied charcoal and kohl to darken their lashes and eyelids. Modern cosmetics offer women easy and convenient ways to enhance the beauty of their eyes.


Almost all mascaras today are liquid formulations in a bottle into which a brush can be stored and repeatedly withdrawn and used to coat the eyelashes with color.

Water-based mascaras are those that are not waterproof. They are easily removed with water or cleanser and water and thus are ideal for sensitive skin because the delicate eyelid skin will not be traumatized by aggressive removal. Also, the ease of removal prevents build up and occlusion around the follicle that can flare rosacea. These mascaras are easily contaminated with bacteria, which grow readily in water, and thus must include preservatives, usually parabens. Thus paraben–sensitive persons could be at risk for allergic reaction. Despite this, the water-based mascaras are the least sensitizing (least likely to produce an allergic reaction) and are best for rosacea or sensitive skin individuals.

Waterproof mascara does not smudge or smear with water contact. Waterproof mascaras are solvent based and formulated with petroleum distillates to which pigments and waxes are added. A special removal agent must be used to remove waperproof mascara, which also can remove the sebum from the tender skin around the eyes and cause irritation and dryness. The most common cause of cosmetic-related eyelid rash is use of eye cosmetic removal products. Additionally, incomplete removal of the waterproof mascaras (either intentionally or unintentionally) can cause problems with eyelash breakage – the mascara stiffens the eyelashes, which are crushed on the pillow during sleep. Solvent-based mascaras will be better in persons with recurrent eye infections because this formulation does not support bacterial growth. Solvent-based mascaras also are recommended in patients who have extended-wear contact lenses.

Hybrid mascaras are combinations of water-based and solvent-based properties. This combination results in products which are fast drying and waterproof. These form a “tube” of mascara around each individual eyelash resulting in apparent eyelash elongation and separation of individual eyelashes. Blinc mascara, Cargo better than waterproof mascara and Prestige Lash Matrix mascara are examples.

The automatic lash-curling mascara is another advance in modern mascara technology. This type of mascara curls the eyelashes without the use of a mechanical eyelash curler. These mascaras also are based on polymers as discussed above. As the polymer dries, it contracts and thus causes curvature of the eyelashes. In addition to lash curling, some mascaras are formulated to thicken and elongate the lashes by incorporating small fibers into the mascara that stick to the eyelashes, making them appear thicker and longer. They are not hair-growth products.

Remember to replace your mascara every 3 months!

Other eyelash enhancements:

Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%) is an undeniably wonderful and easy way to grow longer and often thicker eyelashes in as quickly as 2 – 3 months of use. Many of our patients have been thrilled with the results of Latisse. Nightly application is required at least initially and then, once growth is achieved, application 2-3 nights a week is enough to maintain the effect of longer eyelashes. See before and after photos at

Lash tinting involves the application of a semi-permanent tint to the eyelashes for about 10 minutes to achieve a darkening of the lashes that lasts a month. Lash tinting is the perfect match to darken long Latisse lashes. I love to do this in the summer or before vacation and go without mascara – especially great for swimming! I encourage anyone to try lash tinting with our estheticians.

Lash perming involves application of a low ph solution that creates disulfide bonds in the eyelash that give them curl. Irritation and allergy are major side effects of this treatment. I would stick with the curler.

Lash extensions are synthetic fibers attached to individual eyelashes with an adhesive. Usually 30-80 lashes per eyelid are added and the extensions last 1-2 months. Side effects include lash damage and breakage, sensitivity, allergy to adhesive and infection. Application is tedious and time consuming task. Unless you are sensitive to Latisse, I think Latisse is a more efficient and better process.

Lash transplants can be done to replace areas of eyelash loss. Scalp hair is harvested and carefully transplanted to eyelid area.

I hope you enjoyed this review of eyelash products! I encourage you to try Latisse and lash tinting – you will love it!!

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