From minimal to mega, lashes take center stage as eyes’ biggest statement makers

Spring/Summer 2012 fashion runways seemed at odds when it came to a decisive lash look, going from one extreme or the other. On Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs and Ruffian’s catwalks, the girls flaunted full-on heavy lashes that served as the focal point of the whole beauty equation. Meanwhile, shows for Valentino, Ralph Lauren, Vivienne Tam and Herve Leger seemed to shun the Latisse and falsie obsession of late, opting for a much more natural look ranging from one swipe of mascara to—gasp—essentially none.

So what kinds of cues should we take from this? “I love a lash,” says Physicians Formula celebrity makeup artist Joanna Schlip. “Lashes are flirty, sexy, youthful and really help to open a face.” On the other hand, Schlip says if someone wants to place more emphasis on another makeup feature, they should downplay the lash. “The only reason I would say to have a minimal focus on lashes were if you would like to make a statement with your shadow. I would use bold-colored shadows like lavender, kelly green or blue and use one swipe of mascara on the lashes.”

While some women take the false-lash-for-every-day look to an extreme (hello Jennifer Love Hewitt!), there’s nothing wrong with craving naturally long and thick lashes with the help of a good mascara and showing off what you’ve got. “There has always been a demand for lashes—everyone wants them, but they have not always been achievable. Women want to look healthy and youthful and lashes help to do this.” Schlip suggests Physicians Formula Eye Booster and Organic Wear Lash Boosting Mascara to help extend the lashes without harsh chemicals.

And when it comes to wearing a good healthy, thick brow—like is currently au courant—one doesn’t need to choose it over lashes. “I’m glad brows are back. Think about it, what’s the first thing that stands out on a man’s face? Brows. With women I think it is just important to balance brows with lashes to make you look more feminine.”

So mascara—jet-black, brown or clear—really comes down to the overall look you’re hoping to achieve on any given day. The fortunate thing is it’s temporary. A minimal lash look (try Dior’s ultra-precise New Look Mascara) with bold brows says “you want a harder look. This is good when you’re going sporty,” says Schlip. And when it’s romance and sex appeal you’re looking for? “Lashes soften and feminize the face.”