In the world of lash & brow cosmetics the most commonly used make up staple is mascara and finding the lash weapon of choice is abundant when it comes to choosing a mascara that’s right for you or your clients.
Mascara has a long history stemming back to ancient Egypt where they used bone and ivory mascara applicators and blended kohl, charcoal or soot with crocodile stool, water and honey to create the first fiber for eyeliner or eyelashes. Mascara began its journey of development through history and gained popularity in the mid 1900’s when Helena Rubinstein and Elizabeth Arden made some improvements to the formulations and released their cosmetic ranges that contained a mascara, after the first world war American consumers became eager for new products and mascara gained a huge following in American society.
Fast forward to now, in 2020 eye cosmetics was the most profitable segment in the cosmetics industry with over 1.9 billion sales generated and mascara was the leading product line in that sector.
Formulation of mascaras has also evolved with many brands incorporating conditioning agents to help keep lashes healthier, especially with daily or extended wear. Some of the ingredients in mascara’s in particular waterproof versions can be drying and even damaging on the lashes if over used for extended periods of time.
A topic that is becoming more frequently asked by consumers is what hair conditioning ingredients are the best for different types of eyelashes. This can be a challenging concept for the consumer as there is a lot of simple advice that is given but it can be a little complicated because there’s so many options to choose from.
Why are conditioners used? In general they make hairs or lashes easier to brush through, the lashes generally feel smoother and look healthier, conditioners can also help protect from future damage being exposed to certain elements or chemicals.
How do conditioning ingredients work? Well there is a couple of ways conditioning ingredients can work. One way is by creating a film on the surface of the hair. This makes the lashes feel smoother when touched, they look shiny and reflect light better, and also allows the current generated when you brush through hair to slide past easily with less friction.
The other way a conditioning ingredient can work is by penetrating the hair fiber. This helps by making the fiber more flexible, which can improve manageability and reduces the chance of the fiber breaking. Some ingredients have the additional effect of attracting water to themselves, which can further improve the flexibility and feel of the hair or eyelashes.
Lashes are so small though and do we really notice this difference when it comes to conditioning? Well the answer is yes, especially if you are having chemical services on eyelashes such as lash lift or perming. The initial chemical process can dry the lashes so there’s huge benefits in applying conditioning agents to lashes after these treatments. They can really help lashes maintain a stronger looking structure and look more styled.
The aim for producers is to create a product that will give substantial benefit to the lashes and most mascara’s have 25 – 50 % water in the formula. Then you have a form of wax like Bees wax or Carnauba wax, as well as different surfactants, emulsifiers and polymers to help build the viscosity and stability. Polymers and acrylates can really help with the flawlessness and volume up effect and then you need the extra conditioning ingredients to help prevent dryness on the lashes. Conditioning ingredients like lipids, silicones, cationic surfactants, and cationic polymers help deposit a water-resistant film on the hairs. Humectants are quite popular ingredients in formulations as they are more about penetrating and attracting water to the fiber.
Some of the top trending conditioning ingredients for mascara are:
Hydrolysed Keratin – Keratin has been a buzz word for years in the hair industry and does offer wonderful benefits for coating the hair or lashes. Research has shown that keratin can increase the strength and feeling of elasticity of hair, the downside with keratin is it’s an animal bi product, the industry is moving away from animal sources and coming up with equivalent alternatives that still give the same benefits but they are from plant or vegetable origin.
Soy amino acids – Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins and soy amino acids or vegetable based amino acids have become very popular in formulations as a vegan alternative to keratin or lanolin, when these are combined with other ingredients research has shown they can offer excellent properties for helping the hair feel stronger and giving more elasticity and also helping to retain moisture in the fiber.
Biotin – Is another star ingredient that is widely used in formulations, the benefits from biotin are to boost the strength and health of hair and nails, however the most effective way to actually get benefits from biotin is to ingest it in your food or with supplements.
Panthenol – A chemical substance made from Pantothenic acid, which can be extracted from plant and animal sources, also known as vitamin B-5 is another popular choice which helps to retain moisture and give a stronger appearance and feel to hair and eyelashes, it can also improve the texture of damaged hair or eyelashes from chemical treatments.
Allantoin – An active moisturising ingredient found in in the root of Comfrey or other sources such as sugar beet, chamomile and wheat sprouts. Allantoin can have excellent anti irritant and wound healing effects by encouraging cell regeneration, usually most beneficial for skin applications Allantoin does have excellent hydrating properties which gives lashes a softer and more conditioned feel.
Arginine – Another popular ingredient which is an amino acid in keratin, arginine boasts benefits of strengthening hair, minimising hair loss and helping to retain moisture and bind more moisture to the hair due to its molecular structure.
If you’re a salon owner offering lash services and you’re looking at ways to help your clientele have healthy lashes long lashes and also boosting your salon profitability then adding an after care range of lash serums and mascara with conditioning benefits is a great way to help you and your clients. On many occasions if offering Lash Lift you can apply mascara after to show case the added benefits of length, volume with extra conditioning agents and 9 times out of 10 clients love it when they see the amazing results. Follow Elleebana on Instagram to see some amazing tips and formulations that can help you and your clients have lashes to that speak volumes.
Article written by Otto Mitter
Multi award winning beauty educator, cosmetic chemist and keynote speaker, international judge for lash and brow competitions and global brand owner for Elleebana.