»The Daily Telegraph«, 15/08/09

Longer eyelashes without mascara, thanks to scientific breakthrough

Long and luscious eyelashes have been considered a sign of beauty and glamour.

Since the time of the pharaohs, mascara has formed an essential part of many women’s daily beauty regime.

But now researchers have developed a gel which extends the length of time individual eyelashes grow for before they fall out, leading to longer and bushier eyelashes.

Long and luscious eyelashes have been considered a sign of beauty and glamour, but until now women have been forced to rely upon cosmetics such as mascara and false eyelashes to create the illusion that their eye lashes are longer.

Britons spent an estimated £192 million on mascara last year, up almost eight per cent on the year before.

Biologists at L’Oreal’s research laboratories in Paris have spent the past three years studying eyelashes and comparing them to hairs elsewhere on the body.

While a human head hair will grow for up to three years, eyelashes grow for only three months before they fall out, limiting the length that they can grow to.

Laboratory studies carried out by the researchers found that the hairs could be made to grow longer if the growing time was increased. They were also able to increase the number of eyelashes present on the eyelid as a result.

Dr Patricia Pineau, scientific director at L’Oreal, said: “Modern mascaras create the illusion of longer eyelashes. When women take their make-up off, their lashes are still the same length.

“Eyelashes are similar to other hair in many ways, but they have two key differences that we can exploit.

“The first is the speed of growth, which is much faster in eyelashes while the second is the amount of hair growing at any one time. In head hair, 70 to 80 per cent of the hairs are growing at any one time while in eyelashes only about 15 per cent are growing.

“It was clear by increasing the duration of the growing phase the eyelashes would grow longer while postponing the start of the resting phase, when the lashes fall out, means there are more lashes on the eyelid fringe.”

Dr Pineau and her colleagues found that a combination of citric acid, an amino acid known as arginine, and extracts from a Mexican plant known as Centella asiatica had the best effects.

The treatment is applied to the roots of the eyelashes as part of a white gel that is used each night for three months.

A small three month clinical trial involving 32 women saw their eyelashes increase by an average of 20 per cent while some saw their lashes increase length and density by 30 per cent.

“Even we were surprised by the difference,” said Dr Pineau. “Most of the women, about 80 per cent, have asked to keep using the serum.”

Long eyelashes have been considered to be a sign of femininity and beauty since ancient Egypt when kohl, a combination of soot and fat, was used.

Modern mascaras use coloured tints to darken the tips of the eyelashes while some contain fibres or putty that can artificially lengthen lashes.

Angela Bartlett, chairman of the British Association of Beauty Therapy and Cosmetology, said that increasing numbers of women were also turning to false eyelashes to improve their natural lashes.

She said: “Eyelash extensions are booming in the beauty industry at the moment. But as your natural eyelashes are discarded one by one at regular intervals, new extensions need to be added.”

Last year a drug called Latisse, which was originally developed to treat glaucoma, was approved for use for people suffering from low eyelash growth after patients were found to have lusher eyelashes as one of the side effects. It can only be taken under prescription.

L’Oreal said they hoped to market their product as a cosmetic that would be available over the counter.

Professor Valerie Randall, a researcher in hair growth at Bradford University, said: “This sounds like an interesting piece of research.”

“Until recently eyelashes have not studied that closely as there didn’t seem to be much that could be done with them other than putting on mascara, but the idea of promoting eyelash growth has now produced a great deal of interest in this area.”

By Richard Gray, Science Correspondent

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