Eye appeal: Brides go for big, bold eyelashes

When Amy Schwantner was planning her wedding day look, there was one thing that she wouldn't consider greeting guests without: an enhanced lash.

Though she normally prefers a more natural approach to makeup, for her September wedding at The New York Botanical Garden and other pre-wedding events, Schwantner, a 29-year-old strategic sourcing manager from Long Beach (who lives in Manhattan), went a little wild with her eyes. She enlisted the help of Farmingdale-based makeup artist Kristin Mavroson to get the look.

"We've done fake lashes, strip lashes -- everything," Schwantner said. "But for my wedding day, [Mavroson] suggested individual lashes for something more feminine, classic and a little more toned down."

When she walked down the aisle, she had the simple, elegant lid she loved. And she's not alone. Influenced by flawless-looking celebrities walking the red carpet with fluttering lashes and stars like the Kardashian sisters, who have upped the ante for how big one's lashes can go, many bridesare opting for an eye-opening wedding-day look, making false lashes the latest bridal beauty must.

"Many brides want more of a fresh-faced glow and don't want to feel overly made-up," says Petra Guglielmetti, a blogger for Glamour's beauty site, Lipstick.com. "They're realizing that lush, dark lashes give their look romance and drama while letting them wear less makeup on the rest of the face."

Get the look

While drugstore-bought mascaras, like Maybelline's The Falsies and Physicians Formula Eye Booster Instant Lash Extension Kit, help women get a big lashed look, wearing faux lashes can be relatively easy and cost-effective. For the DIY bride, "this is probably not something you want to be doing on yourself when you're trembling with excitement the morning of," said Guglielmetti. Instead, she suggests having a makeup-savvy friend do the application, practicing before the big day. Don't forget lash primer, which builds volume and length beneath mascara without clumping or sticking. It should be applied first, followed by the false lashes and then the mascara.

A step up from going it alone is going to a lash bar, where a trained professional will apply falsies for a small fee. These are popping up throughout Long Island at a handful of Ulta stores, including those in Patchogue and Levittown, where a strip lash application is $10 (the false lashes are sold separately) and longer-lasting eyelash extensions run about $150, and at the Benefit Cosmetics Brow Bar at Macy's, which offers half or full lashes from $5 to $35.

Another option is making an appointment with a makeup artist at a local salon. NuBest salon in Manhasset is one spot that offers this service, which starts at $25. And it's a popular one.

"There's a huge request for lashes," says Anna Naso, senior makeup artist at nuBest, who noted that they help bring out the eyes in photos. Wearing them "makes such a huge difference."

Mavroson agrees, saying she uses false lashes on "99.9 percent" of her brides, including those who already have long lashes. These women, she says, can benefit from a strategic cluster of individual lashes for added thickness and polish. For more impact, she'll use strip lashes piggybacked by a few individual lashes.

"It makes it look more dramatic without overpowering," Mavroson says. "You don't want to cry them off, dance them off, sweat them off. "

That's just the approach Samantha Nassau of Wantagh used for her November 2012 wedding at The Woodlands at Woodbury. The 28-year-old registered nurse and her five bridesmaids had fun choosing from Mavroson's selection of about 100 pairs of varying styles, thickness and length, with the bride going slightly more dramatic and glamorous than her attendants.

"I've gotten so many compliments on the makeup," says Nassau, who notes she would wear the falsies every day if she could apply them as well as a makeup pro. "I wear contacts, so I was nervous, but once they were on you couldn't feel them." In fact, she recalls, "When I got up the next day, it was as if I had just gotten it done. My lashes stayed on."

A longer-lasting alternative

While strip or individual lashes typically last only a day, eyelash extensions are gaining in popularity. These will stay put, but cost quite a bit more -- $280 for an initial application at nuBest, for instance.

"It has the whole eye-opening effect, plus not having to wear mascara on the big day because you cry," says Cheri Wroblewski, the owner of Lash Boutique in New York City and Lash LaLa in Portland, Oregon. "It's perfect."

For brides who opt for extensions, Wroblewski advises them to come in four to six weeks before the big day for the first full set of extensions (she uses synthetics, applied one at a time with a special glue), followed by one to two touch ups to perfect the look. The bonus: With proper maintenance, lash extensions typically last about six weeks.

Making it happen

Whether you go with false lashes or extensions, experts recommend finding a makeup pro with years of lash experience. False lashes and the particular approach for a wedding-day look should be part of a bride's makeup trial, which ideally takes place about two months before the wedding day.

When it comes to extensions, Wroblewski emphasizes going to someone who's been doing lashes for at least two years and is certified, meeting all the local safety and sanitation requirements.

"It's not easy as one thinks to just throw on a pair of lashes," says Mavroson. "If they're not put on right they can go horribly wrong."

Just how wrong? With individual or strip lashes, a little glue dripped into the eye can cause redness or irritation, and a lash -- or glue -- placed incorrectly can cause one's eyelids to stick together, Mavroson says. With lash extensions, the stronger, latex glue "could cause major allergic reactions, irritations, and if done wrong, your lashes can, and will, fall out."

But when done right, they can make the look, she continued, and hold strong through a joyful, emotional day that you'll remember -- and have photographs of -- forever.

Or as bride Schwantner said, looking back, "I would feel naked without them."


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Anna Naso 

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