BY MELISSA HECKSCHER >LA.COM
What, you think celebs like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton have that red carpet-ready, come-hither look in their eyes naturally?
The aforementioned divas are among a bevy of eye-batting celebrities who regularly report to Beverly Hills eyelash guru Dionne Phillips for eyelash extensions.
Phillips owns D'Lashes, one of a growing number of Los Angeles-area salons specializing in the semi-permanent procedure.
"Lash extensions ... they're the new boob job," Phillips said.
With the meticulousness of a surgeon, Phillips applies individual silk eyelashes - they look identical to real lashes - to the client's own lashes using a medical-grade adhesive and being careful not to make things look too perfect.
"That's the secret," said Phillips, a former fashion model and makeup artist. "I customize them so they look really real, crisscrossing them so they're not so perfect."
To prevent the glue from sticking to the lower lashes during application, clients must have their lower lids taped down throughout the nearly 90-minute procedure.
Unlike drugstore-bought lashes, which generally are applied as a single strip and should be removed at the end of the day, eyelash extensions are applied lash by lash and last six to eight weeks.
Extension lengths vary. Those seeking a simple doe-eyed look may want to go with lashes just 1 to 2 millimeters longer than their own; those wanting to invoke their inner Marilyn Monroe may want to go a little longer.
"If you go too long, it can look kind of drag," said celebrity makeup artist Shalini Vadhera, author of "Passport to Beauty" (St. Martin's Griffin, 2006) and CEO of Global Goddess Beauty. "I recommend just a medium-length, nice, fluttery lash."
Those who aren't schooled in lash appeal may wonder: What's the big deal?
"First of all, they give you very sexy eyes," Vadhera said. "And they're a great way of making the eyes appear larger."
Vadhera, who has done makeup for celebrities including the cast of "The Bold and The Beautiful" and "Passions," said proper lashes are paramount to a "finished" face.
"Long lashes give the eyes that instant glamour sexy look," Vadhera said.
But instant glamour doesn't come cheap. Extensions cost between $200 and $350, depending on the number of lashes applied (store-bought lashes, by contrast, cost about $8).
The store-bought sort work just fine, Vadhera said - they're just not as convenient.
"Extensions are great for a professional woman who doesn't have the time (to apply lashes)."
But there are rules: Clients must avoid rubbing their eyes or using any oil-based products to clean the eye area. They are also advised to sleep on their backs (sleeping on the side could press on the lashes) and avoid steam rooms and facials, both of which could weaken the adhesive.
The extensions will fall out naturally as new hairs grow in. Consequently, to keep the lash line consistent, clients are advised to come in for touch-ups.
"It's addictive," said Phillips, whose celebrity roster includes Avril Lavigne, Renee Zellweger, Sharon Stone, Naomi Campbell and Brandy.
"Sometimes I'm out at the grocery store and people are like, `Where'd you get your shoes?' `Where'd you get your shirt?' `Ooh, your eyes are so pretty," she said. "And I'm like, `Well, you can have them, too."'
Want that long-lashed, long-tressed starlet look but not sure how to get it?
>LONGER LASHES TEMPORARY
D'Lashes Home Eyelash Kit ($25) or drug store false lashes - try N.Y.C. Patent Leather
>Pros: No commitment; can change styles/lengths daily.
>Cons: Can be difficult and time-consuming to apply; must use more makeup to camouflage strip.
Lash extensions ($200-$350):
>Pros: Natural-looking; eliminates the need for mascara.
>Cons: Expensive; small lifestyle changes (no steam rooms, facials); requires touch-ups to keep lash line looking full.
>Where: 9911 W. Pico Blvd., Studio 22.
>Information: (877) 527-4911, www.Dlashes.com.
>What: Beauty Boutique.
>Where: 14615 Ventura Blvd.
>Information: (818) 501-0060.
>What: Trilogy Spa.
>Where: 451 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
>Information: (310) 760-0044 www.trilogyspa.com.
>What: La Petite Retreat Day Spa.
>Where: 331 N. Larchmont Blvd.
>Information: (323) 466-1028, www.LPRdayspa.com
Melissa Heckscher (310) 540-5511, Ext. 329; firstname.lastname@example.org.