Laura Hunter has held many titles in her life: pageant queen, photographer, make-up artist and stylist.
But her most recent title is inventor after she developed a solution last year to one of beauty’s biggest frustrations: eyelashes. Her invention, called LashLiner, uses magnets to adhere false eyelashes, and it has quickly become one of the beauty industry’s hottest items.
“I got experience in doing make-up and doing it fast because [pageant] contestants have to be on in two or three minutes and you have to make them look entirely different,” said Hunter, 46. “That’s one of the things that made me focus on lashes because there was just not a fast way of putting them on.
“Even doing it daily, on tons of people for years, I still couldn’t do it fast, so that’s where I got the frustration.”
Magnetic eyelashes had already become the newest craze in the beauty world when Hunter started thinking. Products such as Ardell lashes use multi-magnet technology, “sandwiching” two fake eyelashes with magnets around a woman’s real lashes.
The concept is genius, but the product can be difficult to position correctly — attached at the base of the lash line but without the ends sticking out on the corners of the eye. And if you lose the top or bottom magnetized lash during application, say goodbye to the set, Hunter said.
“In February of last year, I went to Sally’s Beauty Supply for Ardell’s magnetic lashes,” she said. “I was so excited (that) I ripped them open in my car in the parking lot and put them on in my rear view mirror and I really thought if anybody could do this, it was me.
“And I could not do it. I poked myself in the eye, pinched my skin, they kept falling off, I got mad and threw them out,” she recalled. “I said, ’Oh my God, if the eyeliner was magnetic this would be so much easier.”
That’s when the light bulb went off. Hunter’s kitchen in Seattle quickly transformed into a chemistry lab as she created the magnetic eyeliner formula — made of non-toxic, FDA-approved iron oxide — that would become LashLiner. Hunter’s liquid eyeliner has magnetic particles and can be painted on the top lash line to hold the false eyelash with tiny magnets in place. She filed for patents immediately, hired chemists and by March, she tried out for Shark Tank. She passed each interview to get on the show but had to decline the offer to be in front of the sharks since the product wasn’t mass produced and had not been tested on the market yet.
But that didn’t stop Hunter, as executive director of the Ms. World Pageants in the Bahamas, she tested the product with contestants, who quickly praised LashLiner. From there, Hunter created a Kickstarter campaign that exceeded its goal of $10,000 and raised $58,000 in two days and $80,000 after the campaign ended. LashLiner quickly became one of the site’s biggest beauty items.
Despite some competition, LashLiner is growing quicker than expected. Hunter has expanded to six lash designs and lengths with each kit priced at $55, along with a $20 make-up remover, highlighter and gel liner for $29 each, which can all be found online at www.lashliner.com. This summer, Hunter plans to release smaller lashes and a make-up company called Tori Belle Cosmetics named after her daughters.