Monday, May 17, 2010

Don’t it make my blue eyes brown

In some high school yearbooks, they used to put little phrases, separated by ellipses, next to every student’s picture. These little phrases were usually some combination of commentary on your academic achievements, athletic prowess, favorite music, personal quirks, social life, zany exploits, school activities, and good looks. Often there were little in-jokes and asides. The yearbook staff was responsible for writing these driblets, and it was torture coming up with enough to fill the white space for their not particularly smart/attractive/active/popular/well-known classmates. (“All those aprons sewn in home ec…Nickels in her penny loafers…Good posture….Still waters run deep.”)

For whatever reason, two phrases that appeared in yearbooks during my high school years, both, I believe written about girls who were seniors when I was a freshman, continue to stand out in my mind. One was ‘Who’s a mentie-retard?” (Nice, that one.) The other was “enviable eyelashes,” written, as I recall, about a pretty, popular, well-to-do girl. In a small school, I knew who she was, but never got close enough to see for myself whether those eyelashes were, indeed, enviable.

Not that I would have known one way or another.

“Enviable eyelashes…”

I don’t suppose I have them, but mine aren’t terrible-terrible. When I wear mascara, which I do once every 4 to 5 years, they, admittedly, look better. But mascara makes my eyes itch, and who cares anyway.

Enviable eyelashes are right up there on my personal list of ‘why bothers’.

So I was understandably intrigued by an article in The NY Times a short while back on the risks of using Latisse to plump your eyelashes into the enviable category.

Latisse – which Brooke Shields plumps for in the TV ads - is the miracle drug, or non-drug, or whatever it is, that turns limp, thin, pale lashes into veritable Fuller Brushes.

It’s supposed to require a doctor’s prescription, although wouldn’t you feel kind of like a superficial jerk if you asked your physician to prescribe something to give you thicker lashes. I sure would. And if being prescribed means that it’s covered by insurance, then all I can say is it’s no wonder that health care costs have spun out of control.

Latisse is one of those accidental, Eureka! types of finds – sort of like when Borden’s was experimenting with canned milk products and came up with Glue-All. Latisse came about when it was observed that patients using another Allergan product (eye drops for glaucoma) were growing thicker lashes.

You can’t hold a good product idea down, especially when it comes to vanity. (Remember when people were using Preparation-H to eliminate facial wrinkles?)

So Allergan unleashed – or is it unlashed? – Latisse, and hopes to do $140 million in sales this year.

Talk about enviable eyelashes.

Latisse is supposed to be by prescription-only, but – wink, wink – it’s apparently easy enough to get in beauty salons, or online, sometimes through sites run by Latisse-dispensing physicians. (In some states, it’s legal to prescribe something without seeing the patients.)

For most Latisse-ists, the product works just fine.

But, just like the girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead, when it is good it is very, very good, and when it is bad it is horrid.

…the drug can cause redness, itchiness and irritation, which go away if use is discontinued. Less common is eyelid discoloration, which Allergan, the manufacturer, says “may be reversible.” A rare side effect that has captured the most attention is the chance that one’s hazel or blue eyes could turn brown — forever.

Say what?

If I wanted to turn my blue eyes brown, I’d get colored contact lenses, thank you.

Blue eyes, genetically speaking, are on something of a death spiral on their own. I read somewhere that, unless you start tinkering with DNA, they’ll be extinct in another hundred years ago. Do we really need to nudge the disappearance of baby blues along?

I know that there’s no risk without reward, but are “enviable eyelashes” really worth altering your eye color?

Just because it hasn’t happened to Brooke Shields (yet) doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen to you.

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