As a professional makeup artist, I always keep a trusty pack of individual lashes in my kit. They’re not as popular as strips of false lashes with most people, as they can be a bit trickier to master, but the results are worth it: they can look much more realistic. Instead of the typical thick band or often dramatically bold look of lash strips, individual lashes practically disappear into your true lashes for an effortless yet eye-catching appearance.
These days, there are two different ways to achieve the more natural look of individuals: the traditional method, using false lashes, and lash extensions, a semi-permanent way to achieve thicker-looking lashes. Keep reading to discover how they both work — and how they can each be removed.
At-Home Individual Lashes
The first option is individual lashes you can buy at your local beauty store — or even the drugstore, which stocks high quality options. (I love the Kiss I Envy® Trio Lashes; $17 for three packs).
To apply, start at the outer lash line or in the middle. Squirt a bit of glue onto the plastic packaging of the lash tray, and dip the knotted end of each lash into the glue. Using the tweezer-like tool included, place the lash as close to the lashline as possible. (10 across the lashline is a nice amount, and double that will create a more dramatic look.) These types of DIY individual lashes can last a few days if you are a careful sleeper, but generally, they are a one-night-only deal.
Over the past decade, an amazing thing has happened in the individual lash market: professionals learned how to apply them using glue strong enough to last up to four weeks at a time. These lashes are commonly referred to as lash extensions, and they grow out and fall out naturally as your real lashes would. Lash extensions change the game for women who want fuller lashes, but didn’t have the time to see a professional makeup artist each morning and/or didn’t have a steady hand to apply them herself.
Unlike picking up individual lashes at your local drugstore, shopping around for a lash extension artist requires thorough research. As a makeup artist, I have seen my fair share of “bad lashes.” They can end up looking very fake, too long, or the wrong shape for your eyes or face. An experienced eyelash extension artist will help you determine the ideal lash style for you.
It’s also important to note that getting extensions can be very time-consuming and costly. Expect to spend one to two hours for application, with frequent maintenance visits every few weeks. The initial application will cost anywhere from $150 to $500 with an experienced lash stylist.
Removing individual false lashes
Removal depends entirely on the type of lash. For drugstore lashes, first, try gently tugging on the false lash to see if it pops off on its own. If not, try swiping makeup remover over the eye. If you find that you take off your eye makeup and lashes are still hanging onto your lashline, thoroughly soak a cotton ball in eye makeup remover and hold it firmly for few seconds on top of your closed eye. My personal favorite is Neutrogena® Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($5), because it is non-irritating and removes everything, including waterproof makeup and lash glue.
Once the lashes are removed, it never hurts to give another swipe of remover to be sure that all traces of glue are removed from the lashline, as sometimes glue is left behind. This can not only be irritating, but cause styes or infections.
Removing lash extensions
For lash extensions, your options for removal are much more limited. Either you wait until they shed naturally, or you return to your professional lash artist who will do it for you. Whatever you do, do not attempt to remove your own lash extensions, even if they begin to fall off.
“I strongly recommend that you do not to attempt to remove lashes on your own, because you will rip your real lashes out and possibly [damage] your skin,” warns Ally Duka, a Benefit Cosmetics lash professional. “[Instead], go back to see the person who applied the lashes.”
A professional lash artist can remove extensions with a strong adhesive remover. “But this hurts and has very strong fumes,” Duka warns. “If you can hold out and let the lashes fall out naturally, that is the best idea, and if one is twisted or hanging, just add a little bit of [standard lash] glue to it.”
You may also want to consider the long-term pitfalls of lash extensions. Many women find that getting their lashes “filled” (touched up) takes time and money, but also can weaken natural hairs. Consider: the fake lashes are added basically on top of your real lashes, which adds stress and weight, and can ultimately damage your natural eyelashes.
I offered this thought to Duka during our interview: “If your lashes are going to end up being damaged or ripped out, and it costs so much time and money, why do you think so many women do it?”
“They all want to say ‘I woke up like this [with a full flutter],’” she explained. “So they will keep doing it.”
To me this all seems like a lot of time, work, and heartache. As much as I personally am annoyed by applying individual lashes, I would still strongly urge women to learn to master it if fuller lashes are important to them. You can mix and match your looks depending on your mood — spending a mere $4 and maybe five minutes in the morning — with considerable less risk of damage to your natural lashes.
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