“Natural” beauty products are hogwash. The term is vague to begin with–after all, everything we have on earth is derived from something on earth; what matters are the biological and environmental impacts–but furthermore, the FDA enforces no regulation on the term “natural” or even “organic” across the cosmetics industry.
On the other hand, these pine and grass eyelashes, by Kingston University graduate, Mary Graham, are as natural as cosmetics can get. To challenge the vagaries around earth-sourced cosmetics, she created a set of disposable eyelashes that are made of greens. They can be worn for as long as 24 hours before their shelf life expires. And when you’re done? “You literally just peel them off,” Graham says.
While the the final result itself may look simple enough to duplicate, Graham didn’t have the advantage of using the industry’s perfected materials and adhesives, so she actually had to go through a lot of trial and error, using the garden as her laboratory.
“I tried sticking the eyelashes on with mud which worked but looked very messy and smelled weird,” she says. Graham eventually developed a technique of whipping egg whites with snow to create a glue that dried hard, but the actual eyelash materials were still up for question. “I used myself as the dummy attempting to stick a variety of plants to my eyelids. Dried pine needles, brown in colour, did not work as they were far too brittle and did not take well with the egg glue. Twigs also proved very volatile.”
Wearing her finished product takes a bit more preparation than putting on a traditional set of fake eyelashes (and, assumably, a climate that has ready access to snow), but what’s surprising is that they aren’t necessarily any less practical to wear once you have them on. While the pine needles are quite heavy, the grass lashes are fairly light and comfortable to wear, and egg protein makes a notoriously resilient adhesive. So the only remaining question becomes, would chlorophyll-filled eyelashes actually be something that anyone would want to public?
“Yes, people would do a double take if they saw you walking down the street in them,” Graham says. “I felt a bit odd in them, but I feel if I was in the right environment, say a music festival, I would feel at ease.”
For now, Graham has no plans to take the lashes to market. While she believes it might be feasible, it would require a major investment in garden sciences to create a product that was both easy to adhere and shelf stable. In the meantime, she’s curious about the possibility of turning beetroot and asparagus stains into a natural lipstick.
“It’s early days but I would one day like to create a whole range of items that anyone at home could make themselves,” Graham says. “Maybe a make-up style cookbook could be made, showing people how they too could achieve natural beauty.”