pics below: before and after

An Eye-Opening Experience

21st June 2019

Lisa Botwright is all a-flutter over LVL, the latest lash treatment…

I’ll admit to being just a little vain about my eyelashes. The hair on my head is longish and naturally thick, which sounds great in principle, but in reality means it’s mostly an untameable mess, and needs tying back on a day-to-day basis to make me look presentable. But when it comes to eyelashes, long and thick equals unequivocally good. Sometimes people even comment on them and ask me what mascara I use; it’s very flattering, of course, but there’s the rub. My eyelashes may be reasonably long, but they’re very fair, so minus mascara they’re invisible: my eyes look a quarter of the size when I’m not wearing makeup. The one beauty staple I can’t leave the house without is definitely mascara. (And lip balm; I’m totally addicted to lip balm, but that makes two staples and I digress.)

If I’m going on a beach holiday, I sometimes treat myself to an eyelash tint, which is a great way to appease my vanity when I’m dipping in and out of the sea or the pool all day and mascara would end up all over my cheeks. But a tint only ‘colours’ (the clue’s in the name…); it doesn’t lengthen or volumise in the same way that mascara does. I still find myself addicted to applying the black stuff every evening, which rather defeats the object of going to the trouble and expense of getting my eyelashes dyed in the first place.

But now my metaphorical fairy godmother has waved her magic wand to come up with LVL. Encapsulating everything I everything I ever wanted in a pre-holiday treat for my eyes, but never knew I needed, LVL stands for ‘length, volume, lift’. For the price of a new bikini, it promises the kind of curled, lifted, long fluttery lashes that even the best eyelash curlers and premium mascara would be hard pushed to achieve. LVL has been on my radar for a year or two, and my inner-cynic has been wondering if it would live up to the hyperbole. I’m still tempted, though. Book me in.

By the time of the appointment, I’m a little nervous. I’ve already been in a couple of days previously for a patch test to screen for allergies, which was all fine, but now I can’t help speculating… ‘will it hurt?…’ ‘will it damage my eyelashes?…’ Happily beauty therapist Georgia has great confidence in the procedure, and is quick to reassure me. She’s fully trained by Nouveau Lashes, the founders and pioneers of the treatment, and has been doing this “for years” without any problems; in fact, it’s one of her favourite treatments to carry out, she tells me, as the results are so immediate and dramatic.

I lie back while Georgia does her stuff, and find the whole thing really relaxing. We chat, firstly, about the finished effect I’d like. There’s a choice of black or blue/black for the tint. Georgia enthuses about the lustre of the blue/black (true black comes out more matt, apparently), so I follow her recommendation. Then there are three choices of curl, on a spectrum from natural to Kardashian. It’s all about the size of the shield – a kind of mini rod that the eyelashes are wrapped around throughout the treatment. I choose the middle option.

The weirdest sensation is having my bottom lashes secured, with a light sticky pad, to ensure they don’t get product on them and end up curling upwards too, LVL-style – it’s hard to fight nature and relax enough to stop blinking. (This is the only downside, that the process just treats the top lashes. In future, I’d look into having the bottom lashes tinted at the same time.)

Georgia continues by applying a light layer of bonding gel to the shield before using a small metal tool to lift and press the eyelashes back onto it, forming the curve. It’s an unusual sensation, but completely painless, and, frankly, I’m too busy admiring her patience as I feel her skilfully moving and securing each individual lash.

Once the eyelashes are in place, it’s relatively straightforward to apply the different lifting, volumising and tinting gels and lotions needed to achieve each stage of the effect. The ‘lifting’ lotion, the first part, instantly transports me back decades with its distinctive pungent smell. (Yes, I’m old enough to have had an 80s perm, and yes, the science is very loosely related: I’m basically ‘perming’ my lashes.) Each lotion is left on for 5-12 minutes, and the whole process takes around three quarters of an hour.

A little later, after using a special moisturising serum to tease the lashes away from the shield, and carefully removing the pad from my lower lashes, Georgia hands me the mirror and asks if I’d like to see the final result…

What I’m really pleased about is the way the lashes are lifted right from the root. Yes, they look thicker and longer than they would even with mascara – but it’s the lift that’s quite startlingly effective. “Oh wow,” is all I can say. My inner cynic is silenced. For me this treatment has genuinely exceeded the hype.

Result: I’m even more vain about my eyelashes now.

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