There’s a time and place for mascara. That time is night and the place is only reachable via car, because if I’m going to go so far as to wear mascara I’m probably also wearing shoes meant for sitting. The effect is that Bambi-eyed openness that looks great peering over a glass of vodka in a dimly lit bar, but otherwise I find mascara quite crusty and heavy. It actually weighs my lashes down if I don’t curl them beforehand, and for day I like to show a lot of lid. (It’s a no-makeup makeup thing, a movement which I find tricks people into thinking you’re calmer and more trustworthy.) Not to mention the flake and run potential, and the removal mess—mascara is an impracticality at best, the Tar of Satan at worst.
Regardless, I like my lashes pitch black. And regardless, they are not. The very tips of about half a dozen strands per eye are a noticeable (to me, at least) shade of blonde—ombré, if you will. And the bottom lashes just sort of disappear into translucent-ness at the ends. Overall they’re quite dark, but, like Dick Wolf instructs his SVU writers after reading the first few drafts of every script, they “could be darker.” Enter: lash tinting. Ah! But I’ve not the foresight to schedule appointments beyond my thrice-yearly hair trim and felt foolish handing somebody money for something I could have done myself. Thank God for Godefroy DIY eyelash tinting kit.
I found it at Ricky’s, the one-stop-shop for Mason Pearson brushes, novelty candies, and vibrators with multiple hole-in-the-wall locations around NYC. Godefroy promises 28 days worth of permanency at only $9, so I thought, “Sure, I’ll rub this stuff on my eyes.”
The kit can be used on brows or lashes, and comes with a packet of cream color, a packet of gel activator, soft paper under-eye shields, an applicator wand, a tiny comb, and some card stock on which to smush out the colorants—your "work station." You should also have on hand a magnifying mirror, some petroleum jelly, cotton swabs, disposable mascara wands, and tissues. This trial was a momentous occasion for me, as it marked the first time in my life that I’ve ever performed an allergy test. Visions of swollen, puss-filled lids filled my brain as I read the warning label: “Avoid contact with skin and eyes.” Because that’s reasonable instruction on a lash-tint kit…? The patch on my arm was stained grey, but seemed fine otherwise after 24 hours, so I proceeded with the experiment:
1. Start with squeaky-clean, dry lashes. So obviously no mascara, but no oily mascara remover residue, either. Soap and water or a Bioderma Créaline-type makeup remover will work instead.
2. Squeeze the cream color and gel activator onto their appropriate circles if you play by the rules, but really any clean, flat surface that you don’t mind staining will do.
3. The instructions recommend adhering the eye shields to your under-eyes with petroleum jelly, but I found the eye shields quite cumbersome and a bit unnecessary on my first go-round, so I ditched them altogether after seeing that the dye didn’t stain or irritate my skin for the short time it made contact.
4. Using the wand, apply the cream color to the lashes. Do one strip of lashes at a time, not an entire eye, or both eyes for that matter. The lashes really clumped together and became quite spider-y at this point, which is when I’d recommend brushing with the disposable mascara wands to really distribute the color between the lashes. Also, don’t forget to color the tops of the lashes, this isn’t like applying mascara.
5. Follow with a coating of the gel activator. Taking full advantage of the fact that I didn’t see staining or experience burning, I really globbed the dye and activator onto every nook and cranny of my lash line, even into the roots. I feel I have a legal obligation to recommend you don’t do the same.
6. Check Instagram for one minute.
7. Remove the dye with a clean tissue. This was the worst part—so messy, there’s no right way to do it, I lost probably six lashes in the process, and the stuff did end up in my eyeball, which burned about as bad as those crazy menthol Japanese eye drops and for only about as long. There was no redness, though, so I considered this a “no biggie.”
8. Continue with the rest of your lashes, one section at a time.
The difference wasn’t extreme, but again, this isn’t mascara. The ends were sufficiently black, rather than blonde or clear, and overall they look a bit fuller, glossier, and, of course, darker. My bottom lashes look much longer, too. Twenty-eight days worth of complete and utter blackness is a stretch, though, as, like any semi-permanent hair dye, this stuff will fade over time. If you wear eye makeup often, which means you probably clean the eye area just as often, this will speed the fade.
I’m happy with the stuff overall, though I’d go for the version of the kit that contains 25 applications at $1 each, rather than a single-use serving of dye to make this a more cost-effective option to mascara or just dealing with my sun-bleached, shameful excuses for natural lashes.
Photos by Annie Kreighbaum and Elizabeth Brockway.