Many women (and men) find themselves feeling shortchanged when it comes to their complexion
and coloring. They are usually the fair-haired and fair-skinned among us. They have such lightly-colored brows and lashes that they
spend a good portion of their grooming ritual in applying cosmetics to make their “faintest features” more apparent. My own sister
had this problem. She had thick, full brows and long, silk lashes, but she was born with pale, straw-blonde hair, which included her
lashes and eyebrows. This meant that her lashes and brows were invisible unless she put on makeup to make them stand out.
Now, as I have always had an interest in cosmetics and hair, I used to help her with different
things that I read and saw, and we tried countless techniques to accentuate her eye area over the years – from traditional mascara and
brow pencils, to henna preparations (for the brows anyway; it never occurred to me to even think of applying the color on her lashes).
These worked with varying levels of success, but nothing really seemed like a good, lasting solution.
Of course, now as an adult, “mumbledy-mumble” years later, there are salons and spas all over
the world who offer a solution for the fair-haired among us. These eyelash and eyebrow tinting services are based on the same principles
as traditional haircolor services. The practice is ‘old hat’ in Europe and South America and millions of women, who otherwise wake in
the morning to a “ghostly image” staring back at them in the mirror, have regular appointments to keep their otherwise transparent
brows and lashes tinted to a visible and esthetically pleasing color.
The chemical process involved in dyeing the eyelashes and eyebrows is principally the same
as that of coloring the hair. Generally, the technician performing the service will cleanse the face carefully and then take a precaution
of using a protective cream and or padding to safeguard the surrounding tissues in the area before applying any product.
The color portion of the formula contains aniline-derivative dyes (coal-tar dyes) and is
usually mixed with a 3% peroxide cream solution. (3% peroxide is commonly known as 10-volume peroxide in cosmetic parlance.) This is
about half-strength of the most commonly used strength of hydrogen peroxide. Cream solutions of peroxide are used in order to create
a mixture that is thick and will be less likely to run and/or drip.
The mixture is applied to the desired areas using a small brush to provide maximum control
of the application. The goal is generally to apply the mixture as much as possible only to the hairs being colored themselves. With
the lashes this is to make sure to avoid getting the product in the eyes, and with the brows it is to prevent staining of the skin
beneath and subsequently having to use a color remover to erase the stain (which can lighten the color results).
The product processes for the necessary time period (depending on the texture of the hair
involved) and is washed away carefully. Many salons offer combination packages which include lash and eyebrow tinting as well as brow
shaping and other luxury facial services. These services generally take much less time than their head hair counterparts because of
the reduced areas involved and clients, generally expect to spend certain amounts of time in the salon, so the added services are an
easy sell in combinations.
It should be stated that just as everyone should insist on patch testing before any chemical
service in a salon (and the salons themselves should insist on them) the tissues surrounding the eyes (even in the eyebrows) are
typically much more sensitive than perhaps the palm or back of the hand. You should select a salon, and technician that you trust,
and never hesitate to ask questions. This is a service that you don’t want to take risks on. Insist on a properly trained technician.
Ask how long they have performed the procedure, and ask for references from previous clients.
The cost of these services is relatively inexpensive, but the damage that can occur from a
careless application or improperly trained technician can be irreparable. Most of these precautions are common sense, but many women
are often intimidated by the hairdressers they visit, particularly if they are new to the salon, or often they find themselves rushed
on through and feel they have no opportunity to speak up.
Only recently has the technique of dyeing the lashes and brows become popular in the U.S.
This is in part due to the warnings of the United States’ Food and Drug Administration. According to a February 1995 article, in
1933, a product that was being used to dye eyelashes was cause allergic reactions in many women. Two women in particular suffered
particularly harsh reactions – one becoming permanently blind, and the other dying as a result of exposure to the product. This
prompted considerable controversy in the legislative branch of government (who had at that time no authority established to restrict
cosmetic products) and five years later, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed. The product responsible for the reactions and
causing the uproar was seized.