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Why Plenty of People Will Pay $500 a Pop for Mink Eyelashes

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Welcome to Whale Week, our celebration of the city's biggest spenders.

At this point in fashion history, false lashes are old news. Celebrities wear them, beauty queens wear them, brides wear them—basically, they're found anywhere women know they're going to be followed around by photographers. But in Whale World, getting falsies isn't just for special occasions, and not just any kind of spindly extensions will do.

"We definitely have brides, but a lot of people do it for daily looks," says Monika Crouch, a make-up artist who specializes in mink lashes. Her services aren't cheap: She charges $500 an application, with many clients coming back for $150 touch-ups after two or three weeks. The lashes last a few months total, so clients who want non-stop Twiggy fringe have to budget for a new set four to six times a year. (Note that no minks are harmed in the production of the glue-ons—the fur is harvested through a gentle brushing technique.)

Crouch, who often works out of The Pierre Michel Salon in midtown, says she sees about eight clients per day. Applications take between 75 and 90 minutes, so the job keeps her busy. Still, for about $100 you can get her to make house calls. Below, she tells us about her clients.

How did you get started?

I was actually a makeup artist first before I started doing this. I had a lot of bi-coastal clients, and it was popular in LA before it came here. I had clients who used to ask me about it all the time, so I started doing research on it and looking into various companies and training. The deciding factor for me was that I wanted something made in the U.S. as opposed to China. From there, it was just a process of trial and error and practice.

How long have you been doing this?

Since 2005.

Why mink?

It's a much softer hair, so it's more comfortable for people to wear. It's a lot lighter, more of a fluffier look. With silk, you have more variety in terms of how you want it to look because it comes in different widths, whereas mink, because it's fur, it's just one thickness. But people feel like it's a luxury, or it's more glamorous looking.

Who are your clients, generally?

I get a lot of businesswomen, doctors, and lawyers. People want to look pretty at work but don't want to come in with smoky eyes. And it takes them half the time to get ready in the morning.

Do the lashes wash off?

There's an aftercare sheet I give to clients. I've probably updated it ten times over the years based on what people tell me. After you have it done, you can't put water on them for 24 hours, because they need time to cure. But then people shower and snorkel and scuba-dive and they stay on.

The one thing I'll say is that it's not really good for people who do hot yoga consistently. I had a client who's been doing it for years who started doing hot yoga twice a week, and they started coming off.

Which celebrities wear mink eyelashes? As a make-up artist, can you look at certain people and just know?

Michelle Obama wears false extensions. You can see it and you can just tell. I know Katy Perry does. If I see certain pictures in magazines, I can tell. You can also tell the difference because the lashes are individual and prettier. When people wear clusters or a strip, it's more of a dense look.
· Pierre Michel Salon [Official Site]
· All Whal Week Coverage [Racked NY]