Beauty and the Beast

The Tragic History of Unlicensed Eye Lash ExtensionsBeauty and the Beast, or…To what “Lengths” should we go for Longer Eyelashes? Beautiful, natural looking eyelashes have reached near obsession status with women for almost as long as there have been women and mirrors.  The use of ores and red lead to darken brows and blush the cheeks can be traced back to the time of the ancient Egyptians.  The ancient Greeks would use ground charcoal mixed with olive oil for eye shadow and powdered iron oxide for rouge.

But fast-forward to the early 1930s in the US and we find a more recent and sordid history of American women being harmed, even blinded by cosmetics designed to enhance the appearance of the eye’s lashes and brows. Women purchased and used cosmetics that were developed, marketed and sold for face and eye enhancement and that today are banned by the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act.

  • The Fate of Mrs. Brown

One outstanding anecdotal story that exemplifies the horror of that time and eventually led to government regulation is that of Mrs. Brown. In 1933 Mrs. Brown purchased a product from Lash-Lure, a company out of Los Angeles, for tinting lashes and brows. Lash-Lure was marketed as a cosmetic designed to make eyelashes and brows appear darker and more defined.  Lash-Lure contained an ingredient from the paraphenylenediamine family of dyes that causes corneal ulcerations and had no known antidote (JAMA, 1933). As a result, Mrs. Brown was left with permanent blindness.

As we age, our lashes become thinner, shorter and the hairs themselves become lighter in color. Longer, flirty lashes are seen as an indication of youth and beauty. One only need watch television for a short time to see commercials courting women and cultivating their desire for more, longer, thicker and better lashes. We see ads promoting mascara that “lengthens”, prescription serums that “accelerate” lash growth for “longer, fuller” eyelashes. There are other cosmetic approaches to eyelash enhancement that involve adhesives such as glue on or stick on  lash strips, clusters and eyelash extension procedures.

Certainly, one would think in our modern, over-regulated society we are far too sophisticated and safety conscious to be offering products, services or procedures that would place women’s eyes in at risk, right?

Certainly, Federal Agencies and State governments regulate the use of chemicals and adhesives that might be used in areas as sensitive and serious as the eyes, do they not?

In our next article we examine how far we have really come in protecting women’s eyes and vision as they continue their quest for the perfect flutter. We will also take a look at the current status of one particular aspect of the eye enhancement industry: Eyelash Extensions.

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