Of all the different beauty products and treatments that are written about and discussed on the Truth In Aging site, one of the most popular has to be anything that involves eyelashes. Things that grow lashes, products that lengthen lashes, treatments that perm lashes...you name it, we’ve covered it. So I was particularly excited when Melissa, a lovely PR representative of LashDip, invited me to have my lashes, well, dipped! The procedure is fairly new, but has already been featured in magazines like Vogue and Glamour, and has been described on the Today Show as one of this year’s “eye opening” Beauty Breakthroughs.

Melissa’s invitation came after I emailed her asking for a list of LashDip’s ingredients. She politely declined, claiming that pending patents were the only reason why the privately held company had to be discreet about the product’s contents, but that I should come in and experience LashDip for myself. As it turned out, another member of the TIA team, Preksha, ended up having her lashes dipped instead. This worked out favorably for everyone, though, since Preksha was eager to give the procedure a go and I got to watch it happen from start to finish – something that, apparently, no other media person has ever done before. Yes, LashDip’s creators are that secretive about their product (even the procedure of applying LashDip is patent pending) and probably for good reason – apparently, tons of people have been trying to emulate them.

LashDip is best described as a semi-permanent lash coat that isn’t so much a mascara as it is a “better service than mascara,” as co-founder Gina Mondragon says. “No mascara in the world is as black and pigmented.” Preksha was lucky enough to have her lashes treated by Mondragon, who co-founder Jessica Harley (a longtime lash technician) calls “the best color tech and hair stylist.” I was able to speak to both founders as they each worked for about 90 minutes on individual LashDip customers.

LashDip is “the look of the future,” according to Mondragon. “Even when extensions go out of style, this will still be here.” I can see her point about its potential ability to outlast other eyelash trends. LashDip allows you to have up to six weeks of sculpted, ebony-colored lashes that are waterproof and let you  forgo the eyelash curler and the mascara. There are a multitude of benefits that come along with the procedure. You can sweat, swim or shower without impacting your dipped lashes. The formula used is hypoallergenic and nontoxic, and Mondragon assured me that they can use LashDip on people who have rosacea, on contact lens wearers, on pregnant women, and on those who seem to be allergic to all other makeup products. “People get so many infections from mascara, but not from this. I haven’t bought mascara since 2008.”

First, Preksha was asked whether she wanted to go for the dramatic look or a more natural look. Since she already has a beautiful set of dark, natural lashes, she opted for a more dramatic look, which included eyelash inserts. Though price varies from city to city, we could have expected to pay $200 for LashDip alone and an extra $100 for the inserts.

Mondragon wiped away any excess eye makeup Preksha was wearing with LashPrep, an oil-free pre-treatment that was described as “anti-bacterial and hydrating.” She explained exactly what the procedure would entail so that Preksha wouldn’t be startled at any point, and even physically went through the manipulations she would be doing over the course of 90 minutes. Next, Mondragon used a hot comb to bend and curl Preksha’s lashes in what was “almost a deep treatment” for the lashes. She explained that after the LashDip was applied, it would form around the newly sculpted lashes and allow them to stay that way in a semi-permanent state.

Next, Mondragon began to separate Preksha’s lashes, both top and bottom, and evaluate where inserts should be placed for the best effect. She concluded that while Preksha’s lashes had great thickness and good length, there was a bit of unevenness. For example, one eye had a plethora of lashes in the outer corner but no length, while the other eye had only a few sparse but lengthy lashes in the outer corner. After the inserts were placed with an adhesive, eye pads with a hydrating gel (“a facial for under the eyes while I’m working”) protected the lower lashes and under eye area from any LashDip residue. Mondragon painted each lash individually and meticulously with LashDip, then proceeded to the bottom row. The lashes were then subjected to cold air and that was that – Preksha had even prettier lashes than she had before. While the procedure was lengthy, it wasn’t uncomfortable or painful – in fact, Preksha nearly fell asleep.

With all of its benefits, Mondragon admits, “LashDip is not infallible. You can’t touch your eyes and you have to live like you have mascara on, which isn’t for everyone. But I love getting out of the shower or being in a humid, sticky place and still looking great.”

Sleeping on your face or rubbing your eyes can definitely mess up your dipped lashes, as can using a makeup remover that is not oil-free. And you should definitely schedule a LashRefresh appointment 2 or 3 weeks after you first get LashDip, since your lashes’ natural growth cycle is sure to have pushed out some dipped lashes by then; though it is time consuming, the touch up is included in the original cost, as is the removal process (which should also be done by a LashDip technician another 2 or 3 weeks after your touch up).

As impressed as I was by LashDip, I did insist on pressing Mondragon and Harley for more information regarding ingredients. I was reassured several times that LashDip was very safe, but they politely refused to give me further details. The most in depth answer I received was that there are “hydrating components in the prepping solution and in the removal solution” and that “LashSeal contains aloe”

LashSeal is one of the two products that Preksha was supplied with after her LashDip treatment; the other was LashPrep, which she is to use as her makeup remover for the remainder of the time she has LashDip. LashSeal looks like a tube of liquid lip gloss; it states its use on the container (to seal in the LashDip application and refresh lashes) and the fact that it is suitable for “sensitive eyes and contact lens wearers.” However, its ingredients list leaves me wanting a lot more information, as it only lists “water, propylene glycol, alcohol, others.” What exactly is “others?” And how many “others” are there?

LashPrep is a bit more telling. It doesn’t contain anything to write home about or anything worthy of praise (other than aloe, which is listed last), though it’s really not meant for anything other than prepping the lashes initially and later on being a makeup remover. It does contain one thing I’d rather not put near my eyes, though: triethanolamine. The substance has been known to sometimes cause allergic reactions, though it is an irritant more than anything else. LashPrep also contains alcohol and three parabens.

I like to think that Mondragon and Harley have been careful about what they put into their product. They seem to have responsible views on the beauty industry. When I asked Mondragon about her views on Latisse, for example, she said, “Latisse is a pharmaceutical that has nothing to do with the cosmetics industry at all.” She also said that her ideal lash growth serum would be something along the lines of a “B vitamin and a peptide. It may not work as fast [as Latisse] but it’s natural, it’s the right way. Just like there’s a fast way and a right way to lose weight.” Her views are reassuring, but I suppose there’s no way to know exactly what is in LashDip without a list of ingredients.

Melissa, LashDip’s PR person, sent me a statement claiming, in part, “LashDip is a pharmaceutical grade, gel-like substance composed of the purest ingredients available. The ingredients include an ultra light-absorbing blend of black pigment, a 100% hypoallergenic triple-filtered and formaldehyde-free distributing gel, as well as a safe, gentle drying accelerant.” Formaldehyde-free is good news. So is the fact that the LashDip formula does not contain aniline, which is a known toxin and irritant.

I must say, as someone who is very skittish about the idea of having someone handle several liquids and inserts so close to my eyes, I am very impressed with Mondragon and Harley’s skill and technique. And just in case you’re worried about being left in the hands of someone less than competent, don’t be; salons and spas can only offer LashDip if their technicians have taken a two day, 16-hour hands on course, and have sent in multiple before and after LashDip images to be reviewed by Mondragon and Harley. The founders actually travel around the country and teach the course themselves to prospective LashDippers.

After all is said and done, what does Preksha think about LashDip? Immediately following the LashDip procedure, she was more than thrilled with how her lashes looked. Unfortunately, her excitement wore away rather quickly. The first thing she noticed was that her newly dipped eyelashes tended to stick together in the corners, which is obviously bothersome. The LashPrep formula also tends to sting her eyes, something she has never experienced with her Neutrogena makeup remover. She also finds that applying makeup is a bit more tedious than it was prior to LashDip because normally mascara is the last thing one puts on. Now that it is always the first, she finds that things like eye shadow powder and other makeup residue get on her lashes, causing her to have to take an extra step and wipe them off gently. Preksha has also noted that while it wasn’t incredibly significant or anything to worry about, she did notice that more lashes than usual fell out each day. Then again, some of those were certainly the inserts, which Preksha feels aren’t worth the extra $100 dollars since they fall out relatively quickly.

Overall, Preksha claims, “it’s a little weird always having mascara on all the time. It doesn’t bother me most of the time, but the times it does bother me is significant. After the first week, I woke up every morning wanting to take [the LashDip] off.” Essentially, Preksha prefers mascara, both because she sometimes wakes up with “dented and crunchy” lashes (now that she has LashDip) and because she likes having the option of going sans makeup. Of course, there are plenty of women out there who have never left the house without touching up their mascara, meaning that LashDip would be better suited for them. And Preksha does agree that the waterproof aspect of LashDip is pretty great; she certainly sees the appeal of getting the procedure done for a wedding or a vacation. And she is impressed by the fact that her lashes have stayed dipped for as long as they have. Still, instead of going for her two-week touch up this week, she is planning on skipping straight to the removal process – which she also finds “tedious,” as she wishes she could remove LashDip herself.

In the end, I’d recommend LashDip as a special treat for a beach vacation more than anything else, as the waterproof aspect is impressive. Preksha and I both feel that it is quite pricey, though, and can’t justify spending $300 every four to six weeks on getting lashes dipped regularly. The quality of the application is superb as are the immediate results. I can absolutely see certain women loving LashDip – but I am equally certain that it is not for everyone, including those who insist on knowing what is in product before using it.

LashSeal Ingredients: Water, Propylene Glycol, Alcohol, Others.

LashPrep Ingredients: Purified Water, Disodium EDTA, Poloxamer 184, Dipotassium Glycyrrhizate, Allantoin, Disodium Cocoyl Glutamate, Saponins, Cocoyl Glutamic Acid, Triethanolamine, Disodium Laureth Sulfosuccinate, Alcohol, Methylparaben, Butylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice