NEWCOMERS to Phnom Penh often marvel in disbelief at the widespread use of false eyelashes in the capital, but really, our Cambodian sisters have for some time been well ahead in their fashion sense in this department.
Word has it false lashes are currently all the rage from London to New York, to the extent that "lash labs", salons focusing solely on getting those extensions on, are springing up in the middle of a recession.
Mascaras have long promised us fuller, thicker, wider, longer and more beautiful lashes. Though they, of course, serve a purpose, they don't live up to the durability of false lashes - particularly not in a hot country like Cambodia, where anything applied to your eyes is likely to end up on your cheeks after a few minutes anyway.
Falsies are essentially available in two formats - fakes and extensions.
The former is what you generally see at weddings, the thick strips of fake eyelashes glued onto the eyelids. Most local beauty parlours offer these for a buck or two.
Attaching them involves the beautician cutting a strip of lashes (hopefully) to size, applying glue on it and attaching it to your eyelid. It's a fairly straightforward and easy procedure, though the result can sometimes be a bit wonky.
A more proactive hands-on approach is to buy your own set of fake lashes at the market and try DIY application, which may or may not achieve better results.
Whichever way you go, the lashes rarely last the night and are often also rather heavy on your eyelids.
WITH CLING FILM SCRATCHING YOUR EYE, THE APPLICATION OF THE LASHES IS HARDLY NOTICEABLE.
The second option is eyelash extensions. The difference between fake lashes and extensions is that the latter are glued not onto your eyelids but onto the lashes themselves.
This procedure takes significantly longer and involves a whole lot more poking in the eye.
To start with, the beautician needs to separate your lower lashes from your upper ones, to ensure she doesn't glue your eyes shut.
Given that your eyes are shut during the procedure, the cling film that is applied over your lower lashes to keep them from touching your upper ones invariably goes into your eye.
With cling film scratching your eye, the actual application of the lashes is hardly noticeable. Fast forward an uncomfortable hour-and-a-half, and you are lash-tastic.
Think spider eyes, Twiggy and Liza Minelli. You may have some trouble wearing shades with the extra lengths on, but otherwise you can barely feel them.
Surprisingly, not many places in Phnom Penh do eyelash extensions. In fact, many top-end salons consider it bad for the lashes - nice for a few weeks, but really not fun once your lashes start falling out.
Some of the small hair and beauty salons in Sorya Mall, as well as Christina's Beauty Salon on Sihanouk Boulevard, couldn't care less. Here the customer is king - well, queen - and lash-tasticity is on the menu, though it doesn't come cheap. Set aside US$25-$30 for the treatment.
People say eyes are the windows to the soul. Surely every window deserves good curtains?