Isn’t there just something so romantic about fluttery, full eyelashes? They define your eyes – ubiquitously known as the window to your soul – and depending on how they’re done up, they can evoke sensuality, flirtatiousness, innocence, or drama. There’s no shortage of ways for a woman to boost her lash looks, whether that’s manual or heated lash curlers, tubing mascaras, store-bought falsies, lash-growth serums, temporary lash perms or lifts, or the oh-so-controversial lash extensions.
So what in the world could be controversial about lash extensions or other highly effective lash-lengthening products and treatments? Thick, fluffy lashes spark heated debates from online critics as the trend can be perceived as excessive or outlandish, yet the market for voluminous lashes is growing just as big as the products themselves. But is there any objective truth to the loud voices detesting herculean hairs encircling a woman’s eyes?
According to recent psychological research, on average, people across all races find that extremely long lashes are unattractive. Yet, recent cultural trends in falsies and extensions veer toward the extreme. I took it upon myself to survey my male friends about their authentic, unrestricted opinions on eyelash lengths to see where, perhaps, we should draw the line with defining our eyes.
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Science Suggests Bigger Is Not Always Better
Is it possible for there to be a scientifically sound formula to find the perfect female eyelash length? Recent research out of the University of Plymouth suggests that there is: If your eyelash length equals one-third of your eye’s width, your face may be perceived as more attractive than those with longer or shorter lash looks.
Though there were slight variations found from different ethnic groups – such as Asian, white, and Indian preferences being slightly less than one-third of the eye’s width and black preferences being slightly more – the general principle still follows.
Study authors explained that if a face deviates from the optimal lash length, it may be perceived as less attractive because lash length could signal ill health and gene quality. If your eyelashes are falling out and thinning, this may be from not removing your makeup properly, going overboard with products like curlers, mascaras, or chemical treatments, using expired makeup that causes bacterial infections, or not treating allergic reactions. What’s more, some lash glue for falsies or extensions actually uses ammonia, lead, and formaldehyde, among other toxic chemicals, which should raise major red flags for your hair health! Lash shedding can also be caused by underactive thyroid glands, immune disorders like alopecia areata, and even certain cancers.
Indeed, the real utility of our lashes is to protect our eyes against debris, sweat, and dust, reducing inflammation and, worse, infection. But throughout recorded human history, women (and sometimes men) have been enhancing the volume, length, and color of their lashes to increase aesthetic appeal.
Is it worth spending so much time, effort, and even financial resources to get that va-va-voom visage? Knowing the study’s outcomes, I decided to recreate their experiment in my own style, showing my male friends videos of real women getting eyelash extensions or undergoing their lash-lengthening mascara routines, as well as curated photos of editorial fashion models to see if they really notice or care much when a woman adopts a more natural lash look.
Most Men Think That “Moderation Is the Key”
The first video I showed the guys was a TikTok video by Sydney, Australia-based beautician @glamwithk. The client asked her for “full and wispy,” and the video shows a natural-looking before (presumably, the client hadn’t been wearing mascara to be able to undergo the extension process) and a va-va-voom after where her lash extensions appear to be triple (if not more) the length of her natural lashes.
“It looks bad for the same reason those massive acrylic nails or really obviously fake boobs look bad,” said one of the guys, who added, “She is not slaying.”
My guy friends overwhelmingly said that these eyelash extensions made this woman look less attractive. Nearly all of them cited the same adjective to describe her appearance in their reasoning: unnatural.
“Moderation is key,” said another of the guys, who felt that she looked great before the extra lashes.
Another guy explained that he understands that the lashes are meant to complete a more trendy look, but that it’s less attractive because she doesn’t look as human. “She looks like she came out of a Barbie box,” he said.
I then showed the guys a TikTok video by user @stxph.h, who was recommending products for what she calls stubborn Asian lashes. East Asian women tend to have shorter and straighter eyelashes because of the way that monolids force lashes to grow. So, I wanted to see if an Asian woman whose lashes look sparse or small on camera looked better in the guys' opinion after she has undergone a more rigorous routine to emulate longer, thicker eyelashes.
Though the mascara routine this woman demonstrated on video theoretically brought her closer to the aforementioned psychological research study’s perfect ratio for lash length, a good portion of the guys actually thought she looked better without any mascara at all.
“It becomes more of a hindrance than a help,” said one of my male friends. Another shared similar sentiments, saying that, if anything, the eyeliner made a massive difference while the mascara was “way too much” and “unnatural.”
That said, the guys didn’t have as strong of a reaction to this video as they did the lash extension video. One thought that mascara “neither enhances nor diminishes her beauty,” while another said that he was “pretty neutral” because the mascara at least “achieves a more natural look.”
Could These Models Use a Bit More Makeup?
Next, I showed the guys three photos of fashion models whom I was pleasantly surprised to see rocking the most minimalistic lash looks possible. In fact, I don’t even know if these girls are wearing any mascara whatsoever. If they are, it’s done so subtly that it’s truly a no-makeup makeup look. For all three photos, I asked if the women pictured had attractive lash lengths or if they needed more mascara or even falsies.
The first was a photo from Irish fashion designer Simone Rocha inspired by delicate, doll-like trends. While one of the guys coyly responded that “a smile would solve this without any extra makeup” (very funny – we all know that these pouty scowls are meant to elicit a more high-brow, blasé attitude that sells luxury), most of the guys thought that she looked fine with the undefined lashes.
Next, I showed them a shot from another favorite designer of mine who specializes in the more coquettish, feminine, and frilly (yet simplistic) aesthetics named Sandy Liang. As with Rocha’s models, it stood out to me that the makeup direction was not only “less is more,” but that it was essentially nothing.
One of the guys said that upon looking at the photo, he wasn’t thinking about her lashes at all. Another said that “a little mascara wouldn't hurt, but she also isn't unattractive just because she doesn't have pronounced eyelashes.”
With the next photo, a Japanese actress is modeling another feminine favorite brand, Sister Jane. Though she has barely visible lashes in this photo, the guys said that she doesn’t need mascara and doesn’t need false lashes.
Finally, with one last photo, I showed the guys three women modeling LoveShackFancy dresses, a staple for many Evie Girls.
What do you know, none of the guys felt that the women needed mascara or falsies and that they were attractive as-is. Obviously, with fashion shoots for apparel or jewelry, the makeup direction is geared toward detracting from the face to sell the dress, blouse, earrings, or whatever is being marketed, but to me, that demonstrates a big “why” for women to consider when going all-out with lashes.
If you want the first thing that people notice about you to be a particular makeup product or beauty treatment you’ve undergone, perhaps that’s your cue to go glam. But, if you want a man to see you for who you truly are, you may want to think twice before camouflaging your natural beauty traits.
When I asked the guys what their gut reaction is toward big, false lashes, whether those are glued-on or actual salon extensions, every single one of them responded negatively. Certainly, there are men out there who don’t care, or perhaps they relish in their woman’s extreme lash looks as it could display wealth or creativity, but for what it’s worth, these guys' gut reactions confirmed the heated opinions you’d typically see online.
“Exaggerated features should be left for drag queens,” said one of the guys. Another asserted that big lashes trigger a gag reflex for him. One of the guys said that dramatic lash looks are gaudy, trashy, and tacky.
“I like what my wife does because she just does mascara. It helps a lot because she happens to have very light colored hair that blends in with her skin, so having some extra contrast on her lashes makes her even more beautiful,” said one of my male friends. “I strongly dislike fake lashes.”
Here’s How You Can Subtly but Effectively Enhance Your Lash Look
One of the men I spoke to said he tends not to comment on his wife’s makeup because she’s generally pretty conservative in her approach and “doesn’t try to exaggerate any particular facial feature.”
“She knows I love her natural look,” he admitted.
Knowing this, and taking into consideration the overall sentiments from the guys that extravagant eyelashes can be quite the turn-off, a gal has got to wonder – are there any ways to make your eyelashes look longer and fuller for better eye definition without sacrificing health or esteem?
Beauty experts swear by topical products like lash conditioners that keep them moisturized and protected from breakage. One of the most popular products on the market is Clinique’s Lash Building Primer due to its effectiveness, cleaner ingredient list, and great cost at just $22.
Lash growth serums have also converted devoted false lash girlies into lovers of the more au naturale look. Regularly topping the charts among beauty bloggers is the Grande Cosmetics GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum, which touts amino acids for thickening properties but retails at $68.
If you’re not looking to break the bank but still want an effective serum with safe ingredients, you may like the cult classic brand The Ordinary’s Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum ($15) or Pacifica’s Vegan Collagen Lash Serum & Clear Mascara Primer ($14). Some ladies also swear by castor oil, coconut oil, or vitamin E oil, but there is less scientific evidence that these can directly stimulate lash growth.
It should go without saying that beauty comes from within, but sometimes, the simplest of fixes go overlooked. While it takes a lot longer for proper nutrition to translate into better lash health, it’s worth working on instead of opting for expensive or potentially destructive quick fixes. We know that vitamin E can contribute to better hair health, so why not load up on leafy greens, nuts, and avocados? Biotin also protects and strengthens hair, which is available in supplement form but is best found naturally in egg yolks, salmon, organ meats, sweet potatoes, and legumes. You’ll also find that a lot of these foods are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and have anti-inflammatory properties. I’m a big fan of bovine colostrum supplements (yes, bonafide breast milk), which allegedly can stimulate hair follicle stem cells. All of these things will help your hormonal health and physical beauty in the long run anyway, so it can’t hurt to try.
It would be dishonest for me to assert that women always cater their makeup to fit the “male gaze.” Most women would admit that they do trendy makeup or wear clothing and accessories that are en vogue to look good for other women, but we should always be considerate of precisely what our outward appearance communicates to the opposite sex.
There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself have some fun with beauty, especially when you’re itching to get dolled up for a black-tie gala, holiday excursion, or exciting party. Even if you know you’re going to multiple social events or traveling a lot within a short period, you could cut down on a lot of time and stress by getting short-term lash extensions. But in any case, it appears that moderate eyelash length is the most attractive and even healthiest option for you to aspire to.
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