Secret behind eyelash empire
Long before Kylie Jenner made lip fillers famous, Kim Kardashian helped spruik a beauty trend that has now become the norm - eyelash extensions.
While the desire for long, thick lashes continues to dominate the beauty industry in Australia, it proves to generate one, big problem - the aftermath.
When false lashes come off, or women no longer want to fork out the big bucks to maintain extensions, they're often confronted with having next to no natural lashes left.
That's when some women resort to serums to help accelerate the growth of their lashes as it generally takes three months for lashes to grow back on their own.
But, as many women can attest, some serums are prone to causing side effects.
Sydney besties Belinda Robinson and Felecia Tappenden were faced with this exact dilemma after trialling many lash serums that left their eyes irritated.
"Funnily enough we were on one of our midweek jogs. We were both talking about our thyroid problem and I wanted to start a blog about it, but then we got talking about our poor eyelashes disappearing after we had extensions and that's when the idea of a serum was born," Ms Robinson told news.com.au
The ladies immediately saw a gap in the market - to them, it was a simple yet obvious solution - a serum for women who want luscious lashes, without the nasty ingredients list.
Determined to get it right, it took months of rigorous research for the women to create a side effect free serum.
After the development phase kicked off, they raised $20,000 through a Kickstarter campaign to help fund their first manufacturing run. Soon enough, they launched their business - Long Lashes.
"There's many out there but they're not safe," Ms Tappenden said.
"They have growth hormone ingredients such as prostaglandins which have been linked to cause side effects such as change in iris colour, darkening of eyelid colour, inflammation around the eyes, dry eye, redness, itching and watering.
"What our product does is keep your eyelashes in longer - helping them grow long and full, without hormone enhancing ingredients ."
According to the pair, results start kicking in within four to eight weeks, with the full effect taking place around 12 weeks.
The first Long Lashes product hit shelves in November 2017 and within their first six months they starting reaping the profits. They are predicted to double their earnings, with the business forecast to be worth $1 million by the end of this year.
As competitors continue to been banned from Australia for wrongfully using growth hormone prostaglandins, Long Lashes owes its success to its vegan, cruelty-free, and Australian-made ingredients.
"We have changed the formula three times since we started. At first it wasn't fast enough, then it was too thick," Ms Robinson said, emphasising the product is hormone free and does not contain any prostaglandins.
"We're not organic and we're not 100 per cent natural, but it's about having a safe product and people not having adverse reactions," Ms Robinson said.
Australian Society of Ophthalmologists president Dr Peter Sumich said the growth hormone in eyelash serums was commonly found in many prescription eye products.
"Prostaglandin is the growth hormone used to treat glaucoma (a group of eye diseases that cause damage to the optic nerve). It lowers the eye pressure," Dr Sumich said.
"I have patients who have been put on prostaglandin and their lashes start to grow just from using the eye drops. It definitely causes the lashes to grow longer, thicker, darker and curl upwards."
While prostaglandin is definitely an effective ingredient, Dr Sumich said it should only be prescribed by a medical professional.
While the ladies have had instant success with their business, it hasn't been all that easy.
Both mums run their own separate businesses on top of juggling the family home. So organisation is key, they say.
"The juggle is hard but Bel and I look after one another and we support one another - she look after my kids and vise versa. Our husbands and kids even help," Ms Tappenden said.
Ms Robinson looks after online sales, website, social media presence and product development, while Ms Tappenden is responsible for distribution, wholesalers and finances.
The besties now have their eyes set on launching a hair product.
Long Lashes has clear instructions on when and how to use the product.
It is sold for $89 across Australia and is also available in the US, UK, Germany and soon China.