Eyelash Extensions 101: Everything You Need to Know About Lash Extensions
The appeal of eyelash extensions is undeniable: unbelievably long, lusciously thick, dense and full fringes of lashes that frame your eyes without any mascara or work on your part?
It fills you with visions of rolling out of bed, all made up for the day. After all, who needs makeup when your 'natural' lashes look this good?
But then again, there are those horror stories of people losing lashes after extensions. So what's the deal - are eyelash extensions as good as they sound or do they come with some fatal catch that makes them too good to be true?
Here's everything you need to know - or ever wanted to know - about eyelash extensions. It's a quick read and when you're done, you'll know exactly whether an extension is worth it for you...or not. Read on!
What are eyelash extensions?
Let's start with the basics. First off, some people mistakenly lump "fake lashes" and "eyelash extensions" together - they're not the same thing.
Fake lashes - aka, falsies - are either temporary strips of lashes or single clusters of lashes that you can apply at home with a temporary glue whenever you want to add extra oomph to your lash line.
These don't require professional application and the main difference between fake lashes and eyelash extensions is that fake lashes are temporary - they're good for a day. Maximum.
Eyelash extensions, on the other hand, are single eyelashes that made of either silk, mink or a synthetic material. These lashes are dipped in glue and attached to your individual eyelashes one by one, in a precise, almost clinical fashion.
Are there DIY eyelash extensions?
You dye your own eyelashes, you curl your own eyelashes...so why not do eyelash extensions yourself?
Theoretically, it is possible but it's definitely not recommended. The precision and skill required to attach each individual extension to each individual lash makes this process definitely not DIY friendly.
Plus, even if you are a trained lash professional, getting that close to your eyeball with various tools can make it the process dangerous. Just one slip with an extension tweezer, eyelash glue and with your eyes wide open so you can see what you're doing? Not a good idea.
If you absolutely want to do your own lashes, stick with fake lashes - with some practice and skill, you can get the same look and spare yourself a lot of trouble.
How much do eyelash extensions cost?
You can't do eyelash extensions by yourself...so how much does it cost to have them done by a professional? The price of lash extensions varies depending on location, the type of lash extension you'll be getting - i.e. synthetic vs mink - as well as the quality of the salon.
And that last factor is important. Be very wary of salons that seem to be much cheaper than the average in your area because with eyelash extensions, you do get what you pay for. Make sure that the salon you choose is reputable and has a certified esthetician or cosmetologist doing the extensions.
Not only do you not want someone inexperienced getting close and personal with your eyeballs, but you also need to consider that seedy salons can use questionable materials - formaldehyde glue, anyone? - and lack the skill that can be the difference between quality extensions that last a month and shoddy extensions that come off in two weeks, taking your natural lashes with them.
The cost for eyelash extensions can vary widely with some places charging as low as $10 and more upscale, reputable salons charging $150 or more. You don't need to shell out hundreds of dollars for good lash extensions but again, be wary of salons that are suspiciously cheap.
What are the different types of lash extensions?
The three most common types of lash extensions are synthetic, silk and mink. And it's not necessarily the fanciest-sounding materials that produce the best results or will be the best fit for you.
That's why trustworthy salons will go over each option and recommend the best one for you based on your natural lashes as well as the look you want.
In brief, here's a quick look at what you can expect from the major three...
Mink lash extensions. Yes, yes, we know. Beyoncé wears mink extensions. Other perks? Mink lashes are natural, giving them a naturally-yours, feathery-looking quality that's perfect if you want your extensions to look as natural as possible.
They're also lighter in general and put less pressure on your lashes. The downsides, of course, is that mink lashes come at a higher cost and depending on the sensitivity of your skin and eyes, you could have an allergic reaction to mink lashes.
Another thing to consider is that mink lashes tend to be the thinnest, which is great if you're going for au naturale and you have naturally thinner lashes but not so great if you want a dramatically thicker lash line.
Silk lash extensions. The 'Goldilocks' of lash extensions, silk lashes are not too thin and not too thick, not too natural and not too dramatic. They also have the huge perk of being low-maintenance. Whereas you'll have to be careful with your mink lashes, doing basic maintenance like brushing and maybe even curling them - silk lash extensions make life pretty easy.
They're also affordable, starting at around $100 for a full set. All these factors naturally makes them a great choice for those who're just dipping their toes into the waters of lash extensions.
Synthetic lash extensions. Synthetic lashes are usually made of acrylic and are thicker, fuller and have a more uniform curve to them, making them the least natural-looking lash extensions of the bunch, which can be great when you want to go for a bold and glamorous look.
The downsides, of course, are that the thickness makes synthetic lashes not as comfortable as, say, the lighter mink or sable. And the thicker weight can also be too much for thinner, weaker lashes.
There are actually a lot more choices than these - read more about different types of eyelash extensions and how they stack up!
How will my lashes look with lash extensions?
How your lashes will look with lash extensions depends on two things: how you want them to look as well as the condition of your own natural lashes.
Pretty much every lash salon offers a range of eyelash materials, lengths and styles so as long as you choose a skilled technician, they'll be able to create the look you're going for - be it natural, doll, cat, flirty, glam, or whatever else you have in mind.
The thing is, though, that the style and lash material you can use depends on your own natural lashes. Lash technicians can only go to a certain length or thickness depending on how thin/thick, short/long you own lashes are. For example, if you have weaker, thinner lashes - you won't be able to for a super glam, dramatic look simply because your lashes won't be able to support thick, heavy extensions for long.
How long does it take to get lash extensions?
It may look like a tedious ordeal, but it's actually a pretty quick process - especially since you won't be doing any work. Applying a full set of lashes takes around an hour or two - total - and you can nap through the entire thing.
If you want to maintain the lashes year-round, you can opt for touch-ups every two to four weeks, which will actually take a shorter amount of time since you're only "re-filling" the lost lashes each touch up rather than doing a full set.
How long do lash extensions last?
The glue that's used to adhere the lash extensions to your natural lashes is permanent so as long as the extensions aren't prematurely ripped or pulled off - they'll shed with the natural growth cycle of your natural lashes, which takes around 6 to 8 weeks.
But that doesn't mean your full set of lash extensions will last that long. You see, at any given time, all of your lashes are at a different stage in the growth cycle, with some being newly grown and some being on their way out. The ones that were already near the end of their life cycle will fall out and take the lash extensions that's attached to them with them.
That's why if you want to maintain the look of a full set of extensions, you'll want to go for frequent touch-ups to replenish these lashes that are lost in the growth process. Without touch-ups, expect a full set of lashes to look their best for around the first three weeks.
Are there permanent eyelash extensions?
Permanent eyelash extensions can refer to eyelash implants, which are a last resort for those with weak, damaged lashes. The procedure is like hair transplant surgery for the lashes and involves harvesting living hair follicles and then implanting them into the eyelid. After a period of healing, the eyelash transplants will begin growing normally, just like your natural lashes.
The downside to this permanent eyelash extension process is hugely the cost. Eyelash implants can range from around $1,000 to $2,500 per eye in the US.
But usually, when people say "permanent eyelash extensions," they're actually referring to semi-permanent eyelash extensions that use a permanent glue to attach individual extensions to the natural eyelashes. These extensions aren't exactly permanent, per se.
Sure, the glue that binds the extensions to your natural lashes will be lasting and in theory, the extensions should last as long as your own lash. But remember that even your own, natural lashes are continuously falling out and growing back in. So "permanent eyelash extensions" in this case are permanent only until your lash falls out.
Do lash extensions hurt?
Glue and tweezers so close to your eyes? It's bound to hurt, right? Nope, not at all. In fact, you'll barely know what's happening. It's a completely non-invasive procedure.
As a skilled lash technician separates each lash and delicately adheres extensions to each of your natural lashes, you may even find yourself drifting off into sleep.
The only time lash extensions may hurt is if you experience any burning or discomfort, making your eyes tear up. This is a red flag and can mean that you're allergic or otherwise sensitive to the glue. Your technician may have to change to a different type of glue for you so if you feel yourself starting to cry - say something!
Getting lash extensions should be a totally pain-free experience.
Are lash extensions safe?
Lash extensions are safe but there are precautions you should take. The main issue that stands out is eyelash glue. Your eyes are tightly shut the whole time lash extensions are being adhered to your natural lashes so no glue will get into your eyes. However, since the glue will be placed so close to your eyes, you still want to make sure that it's safe and doesn't contain anything harmful like formaldehyde.
Shipping glues across the world can lead to a buildup of formaldehyde by the time they reach the salon and you really don't want that near your eyes.
How do I choose the best lash extension salon?
Good lash extensions
Bad, cheap lash extensions
Good question, 'cause when it comes to eyelash extensions - skill really, really matters. Not only is the lash technician going to be getting up close and personal near your eye area, but it requires extreme precision and a sure hand to adhere each extension at the ideal point in each of your natural lashes - close to the base but not touching your eyelid.
It is in your best interest to choose someone who is certified, qualified and experienced. Just like you would with a hairstylist, take the time to research the salon or technician you're considering, whether they have been properly trained and how long they have been doing extensions. Also, check what products they use.
Look at before and after photos, read reviews and of course, always make sure they are licensed and lash-certified. Lash extensions are definitely a case where you get what you pay for so don't make your decision based on price alone.
What can and can't you do after lash extensions?
Ah, eyelash extensions aftercare. It'd be nice to forget about this altogether and just enjoy your new, long, amazing lashes but if you want your lash extensions to last as long as possible - a bit of care goes a long way.
Here's a quick look at what you can and can't do...
- No water on your lashes. Well, not forever - just for the first 24 to 48 hours after application since the water can weaken the glue before it's fully set.
- No steam, either. For a day or two after lash extensions, skip hot yoga class as well as the sauna and hot, steamy showers. It's just a few days, after which the glue will be set and you can go back to steaming.
- After that, wash your lashes. Be water wary for the first 2 days, but afterwards, you do need to wash your lashes since we have sweat glands on our eyelids and not cleaning your lashes can lead to uglies like ingrown lashes, lash mites or infection.
- No oils. Oil based products can weaken the glue used to adhere the extensions to the lashes so stay away from these, especially around the eye area.
- Be choosey with your cleanser.It's not just oil - glycol also loosens the glue on lash extensions and it's found in a ton of makeup removers and facial cleanser so make sure you check all labels carefully for the presence of glycol before using it near your lashes.
- Sleep strategically. No more stomach sleeping! Instead, try to get your beauty sleep on your back.
That's pretty the gist of what you can and can't do with lash extensions, but if you want to make your eyelash extensions last as long as humanly possible - click here for more tips!
Can I wear mascara with lash extensions?
You honestly won't need to, but hey, we're all a little lash-greedy. If you must wear mascara, avoid using waterproof since it's harder to remove and can easily pull the extensions off when you try to remove it.
Even with regular mascara, instead of coating your entire eyelash, only use it on the tips of the extensions to give yourself a little extra length and volume. Try to avoid making contact with the extensions adhesive, which is near the base of your lash line, as this can get very clumpy, very fast.
The best option, though, is to forego the mascara altogether and instead opt for a coating sealant designed to prolong the life of your eyelash extensions. This will give you a dramatic shine and make your extensions last longer at the same time. Black Diamond's Coating Sealant is perfect - providing a clear, shiny finish with a hint of black.
Will lash extensions harm my natural lashes?
The biggest concern for people considering eyelash extensions is whether the extensions will hurt the natural lashes or cause them to fall out.
Mostly, this is because the comparison that happens when the lashes with extensions on them have fallen out and you get a look at your own shorter, thinner natural lashes. Your real lashes will look paltry by comparison, leading you to think that the lash extensions were harmful.
But in some cases, lash extensions can harm your natural lashes. For example, an unexperienced lash technician may attach one synthetic lash to three to four natural lashes, which can cause clumps or the entire cluster of lashes to break and fall out.
Also, eyelash extensions are like hair extensions in that if you keep having them done, they may thin your natural lashes due to the glue that's frequently being placed on your lashes as well as the weight of the extensions.
This is why we recommend going to a skilled, experience lash technician for extensions as well as taking periodic breaks from extensions to give your lashes some TLC. During the breaks, use an eyelash serum to nourish, strengthen and repair your lashes.
Will my eyelashes grow back after eyelash extensions?
If you had the unfortunate experience of getting your lashes done at a seedy salon that misused the lash glue and caused your natural lashes to fall out, don't fret - your eyelashes will grow back. The thing is, it will take time.
The eyelash growth cycle is a long one to begin with and if they were exposed to trauma, it can take a bit longer. The best thing to do is to restore your lashes back to health with an eyelash serum that's fortified with strengthening, nourishing ingredients.
How do I remove eyelash extensions?
Okay, we've reached the end of our extension journey, you've got a few stragglers left and you just want to take them all off and take a break. So can you remove the extensions yourself?
Well, the best option is to go back to the salon that did the extensions but if they don't do removals or insist on charging an exorbitant fee, yes, you can remove the extensions yourself. The best DIY option is to get a bottle of eyelash extension remover.
Blink Gel Remover is hands down the most effective for the job – it’ll easily take professional eyelash extensions off in a matter of minutes without damaging your natural lashes.
Another option is to use what you've got at home to gently remove the last few stragglers - here's how to remove eyelash extensions without damage.