For trendy lush eyelash look, the options abound

As seen in the San Francisco Chronicle September 18, 2011

Lashfully Lounge in Cow Hollow district, SF. Photo courtesy of Lashfully

Nerissa Pacio Itchon, Special to The Chronicle

 
Call it the Kim Kardashian effect.

National mascara sales are on the upswing; salons specializing in lash extensions are hitting critical mass; doctor’s offices and cosmetics companies are finding big business in lash growth serums; and semi-permanent mascaras are picking up steam, proving that women are willing to try almost anything to achieve the lush, defined, cheek-grazing lashes that the reality TV stars have helped usher in as the beauty standard for the Tinseltown set.

“It all started with the media and celebrities endorsing prescription Latisse,” says Liv Contreras, a veteran licensed aesthetician and co-owner of Lashfully beauty lounge in the Cow Hollow district. “Then the Kardashians were the ones to really bling out lashes, making strip lashes, extensions and the whole lash trend even more popular.”

As Hollywood-averse as San Franciscans may seem, city dwellers have been quick to jump on the lash bandwagon. Lashfully, which Contreras opened almost 10 months ago with former client Matana LePlae, is one of at least a dozen lash-centric salons that have popped up recently in San Francisco, feeding the growing demand for lash enhancements.

Since the opening of Lash Lab nearly two years ago, bookings at the Cow Hollow salon have doubled to an average of eight to 10 clients per day, says 31-year-old owner Judy Anderson. Her team of five full-time licensed aestheticians focuses solely on lash extensions, and appointments fill up nearly four weeks in advance.

Although lash extensions have been around for decades, the service is starting to go mainstream with increasingly more options available. For women willing to spend the time and the money, it remains a popular, if not a downright luxurious, service.

When done properly, the painstaking process requires a licensed aesthetician to use precision-point needle tweezers and medical-grade glue to attach synthetic, animal or real human hair extensions to each lash. Devotees say the results are worth it.

“I love getting a look I can’t get by simply using mascara,” says Elena Greco, director of brand relations at San Francisco-based online beauty community Beautylish, who visits a salon for lash extensions every two to three weeks. “Also, I like the option of waking up and walking out the door without having to apply eye makeup.”

To read the rest of this story, go to the Sunday Style section on sfgate.com.

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