I’ve tried to be one of those glamorous mothers. Like the ones that can wear high heels and trendy clothes to outings with the kids. The ones who have their hair and make-up always perfect. More accurately, I once wasted many hours on self-grooming, trying to be glamorous.
Had been.
I believe that getting regular haircuts, with some sort of color, every six to eight weeks, is a part of the mommy bill of rights. See my article 10 Things All Parents Deserve: Just Because You Have Kids Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Have a Life. Every woman gets her hair done and many get regular manicures. I’m talking about the extras. For me, it was eyelash extensions.
The story begins with my Irish sister-in-law, who lives in Ireland, who’s totally glamorous. Not a trying to be glamorous like I was, but truly glamorous, with great clothes, hair, and style. At our annual beach vacation, her generous long, thick black eyelashes appeared even more enhanced.
“Did you get your eyelashes done?” I’d blurted out even before the compulsory how are you’s were exchanged.
“They’re extensions,” she’d explained. She said that you get them done once, which is expensive and time consuming, but after that, they only require upkeep (fillers she’d called them) every three weeks for less time and money. The procedure involves having a technician apply an individual long, synthetic lash to most of your existing upper eyelashes with glue.
“You should get them done for Tony’s wedding,” she’d encouraged me. My only brother’s upcoming wedding in June was approaching at warp speed.
My mother did warn me. “You know that you’ll probably be allergic to them.”
“I’m having them done now to see if I like them or not. So, if I am allergic, then I won’t have them for Tony’s wedding,” I replied like some sort of beauty expert.
I got the eyelash extensions and loved them. They were truly fabulous, like an instant eye-lift. I felt like a Kardashian. I hardly had to wear any make-up. My new morning routine was reduced to waking up and splashing water on my face. Just think of all the money that I’ll save without having to use or buy mascara, I’d thought. Funny, but it was really just another beauty upgrade that men (my husband, son, and dad being the only men that I regularly see) didn’t notice. But I wasn’t discouraged. Women noticed them. A lot of women. I had so many compliments. From my friends, to my hairdresser, to the cashier at Trader Joe’s, to even my originally suspect mother.
After three weeks, I had them touched up (filled), and then a second three weeks passed, and I had the set filled again. In the meantime, I’d found my dress and jewelry for the wedding too.
I had my set filled on Wednesday morning before the Saturday night wedding. It was my fourth time at the same lash studio. By the time, we boarded our first flight to Boston, my eyelids were swollen and red. I must have reacted to the glue like someone might react to eating shellfish, which I’m also allergic too.
After landing in Madrid, Spain child-free a full 30 hours later, I started taking a potent mixture of Advil, Benadryl, and Clairtin, on top of the white wine on ice that became my drink of choice for the weekend. The delicious vino was less than two Euro a glass! Somehow, I managed to get the swelling under control enough before the wedding to apply some makeup and look alright in the photographs. And, somehow, I managed to party like a rock star on all those meds (it might of have had something to do with not having the children to mind and the ability to sleep until 2PM for all those days).
I had the eyelash extensions removed at the lash studio the same day I returned from Europe.
The lash technician told me as she was removing them with oil, “You know, you could’ve removed them yourself with olive oil or baby oil. And, if you ever want to have them again, there’s a sensitive glue that we could use.”
“Sensitive glue?” I’d clamored. “Why didn’t you tell me about that before?”
“It doesn’t last as long and we don’t recommend it unless there’s a problem, like you just had.”
She’s crazy, I’d thought. Laying with my back on the table, with my eyes scaly and swollen to hell as she rubbed them with the removing oil. How could I put myself through this pain and suffering again?
I didn’t even want to see myself in the mirror after she’d removed them. I hurried to my car and looked tentatively in the mirror. My nubby un-fabulous eyelashes peaked back at me. Once those were gone, I became just a regular suburban mother again. All the glamor of my daily life vanished. My naturally nice-enough eyelashes underneath were reduced to stumpy short ones. My mother used it as an opportunity to remind me to be thankful for what I had. I had to humbly agree. It took several weeks for all the weird swelling to finally subside and many months for them to grow back.
Now, months later, with my kids safely tucked into school full time, I’m asking myself, do I try to be glamorous again? I’ll make sure to specify the sensitive glue.
What’s been your worst beauty fail?
–Carissa Howard