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Fringe Benefits : The New Eye Look Is Thick, Full Lashes That Betray No Hint of Artifice

June 19, 1988|PADDY CALISTRO

PERHAPS IN response to Tammy Faye Bakker's overplayed eyelashes, which became one of last year's humorous symbols of a scandal, lashes this season are dramatic in their subtlety. The no-makeup look is de rigueur . And since cosmetics-industry research shows that 44% of American women choose not to wear any mascara, this less-is-more thinking should be welcome news.

Long, dark, battable eyelashes have been the stuff of Victorian romances and 1940s movies, but for most women such luxurious fringe is pure fantasy. In fact, says Beverly Hills skin-care specialist Aida Grey, most women have pale, short lashes. In the past they've turned to multiple pairs of artificial lashes, a la Bakker, or heavy coats of black mascara. Now fashionable women are taking a fresh look at their own unadulterated lashes.

"Our market research shows that women don't wear traditional mascara for one of two reasons: Either they object to getting 'raccoon eyes' at four o'clock in the afternoon or they're allergic," explains Sharon LeVan, senior vice president of marketing at Max Factor.

Facts like these inspired an unpredictable and unprecedented new product: Factor's hypoallergenic No Color Mascara. Applied with a wand, the clear gel is designed to enhance natural lashes, to make them glisten and hold a slight curl. Max Factor claims that lashes look longer, darker and more defined, without a chance of smudging. News of No Color spread fast, LeVan says. "A six-month supply sold out in a matter of days all across America," she says.

For some women--especially those with allergies--natural vegetable-dye eyelash tints are sometimes an alternative to mascara. Grey says that each week about 85 women and 20 men have their lashes dyed in her Southern California salons.

"Many people don't realize that the sun bleaches their lashes, but in 20 minutes they can be darkened again with tint," Grey says. She adds that the process should never be attempted on oneself because of potential eye injury. Salon tints last from a month to six weeks, she says.

A couple of years ago, colored mascara made a big comeback, with jewel-tone blues and greens by Christian Dior among the offerings. This season's mascaras come in unusual shades such as Revlon's translucent Glamorous Green, Trucco's red-brown Woodrose and Dior's vivid Sailboat Blue. These colors are intended to impart a very subtle hint of color, not to create a Technicolor stare. And salons are offering lash tints in dark blue, emerald green and violet, hues that intensify the color of the eyes.

Skin-care specialists warn that contaminated mascaras are often a cause of eye infections. But Harvey Gideon, Max Factor vice president of research, explains: "If you use a mascara regularly, the preservatives will hold up for the life of the product. If you use it sporadically, throw it away after six months."

Photographed by Ken Chung; hair and makeup: Renee Parenteau/Zenobia; model: Lisa Schad/Elite

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