No mascara, low-maintenance lashes and pure brows

‘Umm, is mascara out for 2024?” It’s a headline I came across shortly after undergoing a refill for my lash extensions, and couldn’t help but feel relieved at the prospect. Bi-monthly appointments and inevitable damage to my natural lashes have made extensions a high-maintenance (and high-cost) beauty practice to indulge in.

Now it appears bold, dramatic lashes may be going out of style. Celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Kylie Jenner, Florence Pugh and Molly-Mae Hague have been opting for barefaced beauty looks recently, with little to no mascara. When lashes are lacking, immaculate skin, bold lips and beautifully groomed brows instead become the focus.

Here are what eye make-up, and care, trends experts in the region are seeing.

Lashing out

Natasha Ahmed, a make-up artist from Dubai, says the “naked lash” trend isn’t new, and that it’s always been a popular look for editorial shoots and high fashion shows. She credits the “clean girl” aesthetic that embraces natural beauty, for popularising the no-lash trend in the mainstream.

Going viral on TikTok last year, #cleangirl beauty champions simple, slicked-back hairstyles; soft, dewy skin; neutral lip and eyeshadow shades; and an overall “no-make-up” look. The soft, French-inspired aesthetic has remained popular, despite being contrary to #mobwife make-up trends also making the rounds on social media, which call for deep shades and thick layers of mascara.

“When you’re using mascara and washing your lashes every day, you lose a lot of eyelash hair, so it makes sense why everyone is moving towards less mascara or no mascara. We’re starting to realise the damage we’re doing to our lashes,” says Ahmed.

High brow

Many beauty enthusiasts, inspired by celebrities such as Cara Delevingne and Lily Collins, are replacing their lash obsessions with a focus on brows instead. “I think it’s partly fuelled by social media, where we’re seeing influencers embracing their natural features and sharing tips on achieving gorgeous, fluffy brows,” says Gaelle Hanna, a make-up artist from Dubai who has worked with Dubai Bling star Loujain Adada.

Hanna believes eyebrows act as a frame for the face and accentuate our natural features. While overplucked brows were characteristic of the 1990s, today’s brows are comparatively thicker. “Advancements in beauty products and techniques have made it easier than ever to enhance our eyebrows,” says Hanna, naming products such as brow pomades and procedures such as microblading that help make brows more impactful.

From Brau to Browz and Brow Studio, many local salons specialise in eyebrow grooming, and beauty entrepreneurs in the UAE are also sharpening their gaze on this niche. Last month, Syrian stylist and creative director Lana Qatramiz launched Las Club, a beauty brand that offers home-made formulas that are organic, vegan, eco-friendly and made in the UAE.

Knowing lash serums can have nasty ingredients, the only thing I would recommend is castor oil

Natasha Ahmed, make-up artist

Her first product, the Las Natural Eyebrow Lifter, lifts and nourishes the eyebrows and was inspired by her brow-growing journey. “I stopped plucking my eyebrows and wanted to embrace and achieve fluffy, natural brows, but in order to grow them and make them look elegant, I had to brush them up,” she says. “Unfortunately, many products such as gels and waxes are toxic for eyebrow hair, causing it to fall out.”

Glam factor versus global fads

While the wider industry might be shifting away from dramatic lash looks and towards natural beauty, whether the trend will impact Middle Eastern beauty practices remains to be seen. Qatramiz believes there’s “a strong possibility” it will appeal to women here.

“The UAE has always been at the forefront of embracing global beauty trends,” she adds. “With influencers and beauty enthusiasts driving conversations around embracing one’s natural features, I anticipate this trend will find a receptive audience in the UAE.” She says lighter make-up looks that can withstand heat and humidity are also better suited for the regional climate.

For those seeking more natural eye make-up, Hanna advises avoiding false lashes and extensions and using mascara less often. “Opt for lash lifts with tinting, a lash serum-based mascara or just a lash serum by itself,” she says.

When mascara is worn, a gentle cleanser can help reduce damage. “Use a plant-derived oil-based cleanser that will gently cleanse away heavy make-up, and keep the skin hydrated as well,” she adds.

Ahmed, meanwhile, is wary of serums that claim to help with lash growth, citing recent studies that have shown they can cause pigmentation on the skin around the eyes. Dermatologists have also warned that some lash serums cause dark circles, and hollow under-eyes due to the ingredients melting the fat of the skin.

Knowing some lash serums can have nasty ingredients and that we don’t know the long-term side effects, the only thing I would recommend using is castor oil,” says Ahmed. Used across different cultures, castor oil is widely regarded as a safe and natural alternative to lash and brow serums, although it takes a few months to achieve noticeably thicker and longer hair.

While celebrities in the US and UK may be making a case for natural, mascara-less lashes on red carpets, Ahmed is sceptical about whether the trend will translate regionally. “I don’t see it picking up too much as women here love to be glam,” she says. After all, many women – Ahmed and myself included – are in a deep, long-lasting relationship with lash extensions, and parting ways with them is not yet in sight.

Updated: April 20, 2024, 4:10 AM

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