When Dionne Phillips booked her first big modeling gig at 19, she had no idea it would lead her to become the first person to bring lash extensions to market.
By cutting up strip lashes and applying them as individuals, Phillips developed the trick to make her polaroids pop, and other models wanted her to work her magic on them as well.
Fast forward to 2005, and D'Lashes, a boutique lash extension salon, was born.
Since its inception, Phillips has "lashed out" some of Hollywood's hottest A-listers, including Victoria Beckham, Naomi Campbell, Renee Zellweger, and Mary J. Blige, to name a few. Then in 2012, she launched the D'Lashes product line, which includes every product and tool you'll ever need to get red carpet ready lashes right at home.
Here, I spoke with Phillips to find out more about her journey into the beauty industry, why she'll never forget the time she worked with Viola Davis, and her hopes for D'Lashes post-COVID.
How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
Since I was a kid, I was in beauty pageants. As I got older, I wanted to transition into modeling to become a supermodel. When I was 19 years old, I booked a big modeling job in NYC, and that’s when I got my start in the industry.
To make my polaroids stand out, I started cutting up strip lashes and applying them to myself. Not long after, I had models coming to my kitchen to be lashed out before their auditions. Our polaroids looked so much better and our eyes popped with the lashes.
You are the first person to patent the idea for eyelash extensions, correct? How did that idea come about?
Yes, I was the first person to try to patent the idea of eyelash extensions 20 years ago. However, my attorney at the time informed me that it wasn’t possible because it is a service, and there is no way to trace the origin of a service. That said, I was the first to bring “extended wear lashes” to market, which is now known under the name “eyelash extensions.”
You’ve worked with a plethora of celebrities to get them "lashed out." What’s been your fondest memory so far?
When I worked with Viola Davis for the 2012 Academy Awards. I remember being in the hotel room with her when she made the bold decision not to wear a wig. For a lot of Black women, our hair is our crown and for Viola, as a Black actress in a white-dominated industry such as Hollywood, to be nominated and wear her natural hair on the red carpet was such a powerful move.
Viola is a true example of courage, strength and dignity and I was so proud to have been there, witnessed it, and been a part of that historic moment. I will never forget it.
Why do you think eyelash extensions have become so popular? So much so that they kind of pushed strip lashes to the backseat.
I think eyelash extensions have become so popular over the years because a lot of women were tired of putting on mascara to look halfway decent when they woke up. They are convenient, they don’t weigh down your eyes like some strip lashes do, and so much time is saved not having to apply mascara. Lash extensions give an extra boost of confidence at all times.
VIDEO: The 11 Best Eyelash Growth Serums on the Market
But you actually make your own strip lashes as well. What makes yours stand out from the rest?
There have always been eyelashes or "falsies” as they used to be called. However, what also makes my strip lashes different from the rest is that I actually took time, working with a manufacturer, to make them look like and emulate real eyelashes. When I first started to promote my business and claimed they were, “Lashes that stay on,” some people were like “No, I don't want to wear that on my eyes.” It wasn’t until a few celebrities started mentioning my name as the one who did their lashes for it to catch on like wildfire.
You recently created a 2-in-1 eyeliner adhesive product. How did you develop this concept?
I created this for my clients who are currently stuck at home and unable to come see me. I wanted it to be convenient and easy for anyone [to apply lashes at-home] no matter their skill level. The product works as an eyeliner, but you can also apply false eyelashes if you choose.
What’s your hope for the future of your brand?
Right now, my hope for the future is to go back to work, which I know we will once things are safer. My hope for the brand is to see D’Lashes products and tools in major retail stores globally and see them as a part of everyone’s lash stash or a staple in their makeup bag.
Shop D’Lashes Products
Felt Tip Adhesive Eyeliner Pen
Get a finished eye look in minutes with this dual purpose adhesive eyeliner pen. Simply trace your cat eye, fill it in, then apply the strip lashes on top. Your falsies are guaranteed to stay in place for up to 20 hours with this waterproof, latex-free, and dermatologist and ophthalmologist-approved formula. Hey, we called it a game-changer for a reason.
To shop: $20; dlashes.com
D’Medium Flare Lashes
Give your natural lashes a little extra oomph with these individuals. Just apply the right amount to top off your look, then you're good to go.
To shop: $19; dlashes.com
3D Soft D’Wispy Lashes
Mimic the look of a fresh lash extension set with D'Wispy lashes. These strips will give you the added volume you need to make your eyes pop.
To shop: $30; dlashes.com
Applying your own lashes isn't easy, especially if you don't have a steady hand. Thankfully, the Lash Applicator offers a curved tip to help you get precision placement.
To shop: $12; dlashes.com
D’Lashes Lash Wash
Whether you're wearing lash extensions, or want to give your strips another go, use this cleanser to gently remove dirt, oil, makeup, and lint without disturbing your lashes or leaving behind any residue.
To shop: $25; dlashes.com
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