These days, you don’t need to fuss with adhesive and false lash strips to achieve full, fluttery lashes. Eyelash extensions, which started out as a celebrity treatment, have become mainstream, with new lash spas popping up frequently countrywide.
Unlike false lashes, though, extensions are a bit more of a luxury. (Afterall, you’re paying for the privilege of someone carefully gluing extensions to individual lashes for several hours.) Though they’ll set you back a bit more than a pair of falsies from the drugstore, most extension devotees swear they’re worth it, as they instantly wake up your face and won’t rinse off at the end of the night.
However, you shouldn’t book just any lash extension appointment: this is a highly specialized treatment. You need to do careful research, from finding the proper studio to learning how to care for them once they’ve been applied. Keep reading — we tapped extension experts to break down everything you need to know before you book your first appointment.
They are safe — just do your homework.
When it comes to lash extensions, safety should be your number one concern, says Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes®. Afterall, the technician will be working with powerful chemicals and glue right next to your eye. Lash extensions are easier to mess up than they are to get right, and at best, a bad application can damage your natural lashes and prevent regrowth. At worst, they could hurt your eyes.
Therefore, it’s essential that you seek out someone who is certified to apply lashes. Depending on the state’s regulations, the stylist may also need to be licensed. There’s also a higher probability of getting a more skilled tech if you pay a little more, so don’t automatically go for the lowest priced studio, says Heather Elrod, CEO of Amazing Lash Studio®. Ask questions about the studio’s stylists and their training (both Envious Lashes’ and Amazing Lash Studio’s stylists go through extensive training before taking on their first client). For example, who taught them to apply lash extensions, and how long have they been a lash stylist? Especially if it’s your first time, you’ll want to see someone experienced to ensure you have a positive experience. Elrod also advises looking at before-and-after photos a studio may have posted online, reading reviews, and ensuring the studio looks clean upon arrival.
Ron Robinson, cosmetic chemist and founder of beautystat.com, agrees that a clean, sanitary studio is a must. Make sure the salon uses materials that are non-irritating and formaldehyde-free. The staff should also take the time to explain the service to first-timers so that they know what to expect during the service, as well as how to maintain their lashes afterwards, he adds. (More on this later!)
Prepare to invest both time and money in your lash extensions.
While lash extensions are time-savers when it comes to daily makeup applications, they do take a chunk of time out of your schedule to get done. They also require regular touch-ups to look their best. The initial appointment can take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on the style and volume desired, says Richardson. Refills, or touch-up appointments during which the stylist replaces any lost extensions, usually take about an hour. These should be done every two to three weeks to maintain fullness.
As for price, it can vary wildly, based on the salon, technician, and style you select. Fuller styles tend to cost more, as they require your tech to spend more time (and use more extensions) on you. That said, the initial set and refills can cost anywhere from $80 to $500.
They are completely customizable.
If dramatic, voluminous lashes aren’t your thing (or you don’t want to show up at the office looking too glamorous), you can opt for a much more natural look. The extensions themselves can vary, too — there are different colors, finishes, and lash densities to choose from. During your first visit before your appointment, a lash stylist will conduct a full consultation to customize a style you will love based on your goals. Don’t be afraid to bring in photos of friends’ or celebrities’ lashes that you admire to give your tech a sense of your aesthetic.
If you choose your technician wisely, extensions won’t ruin your natural lashes.
You may have heard that lash extensions can be damaging to your lashes, but Richardson is adamant that extensions alone won’t harm them. If your natural lashes have been damaged by an extension appointment, it is usually the result of improper application, or the stylist not selecting the right type of lash for you (this is why it is so important to select a reputable studio). Applying extensions that are too heavy for the natural lash can result in premature shedding.
Lash extensions require a little TLC.
A tip from all of our pros: don’t ignore the aftercare! It will help extend the life of your lashes. It’s very important to avoid steam or wetting your lashes for the first 48 hours, says Richardson. You can wash your face and take a shower, just make sure that no water touches your lashes. That’s because the glue takes about two days to fully set, and any moisture could weaken the bond, or worse, wash some of the glue away.
You also want to avoid messing with your eyes, including rubbing them (which will result in immediate breakage) and playing, picking, and excessively touching your lashes. When you feel the need to touch them, brush them with a spoolie (most studios will provide you with one at the end of your appointment!) to keep them free of any dust and prevent tangling. Be sure to be gentle when you brush.
Lastly, we know you’ve heard this a million times, but do your best not to go to bed with your makeup on. This is even more important when you have lash extensions. Creams, shadows, liners (and any other eye makeup used) can cause build-up and debris that can get into the eye itself and lead to an infection if not cleansed properly. To keep your extensions strong and healthy, gently remove your makeup with an oil-free formula, like Neutrogena® Oil-Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover ($5).
You can still take care of your skin and wear makeup — just be picky when picking products.
Two major red flags for lash extensions: oil-based products and waterproof formulas. Oil-based cosmetics and creams can cause the adhesive used with extensions to dissolve, says Elrod. In addition to avoiding these formulas, she suggests applying a translucent powder on top of any product applied to or around the eye area to help absorb any oil.
While waterproof formulas aren’t inherently bad for your lash extensions, their staying power makes them a challenge to remove, which could harm your lashes. You usually need to apply extra pressure to remove these longwearing formulas, or use oil-based makeup removers, both of which will cause your extensions to fall out more quickly. Skip them and save them for another time.
You should also comb through your makeup collection for more gentle products — and we’re not talking about the formulas themselves. Elrod suggests carefully choosing products that will not tug on your lashes. For example, pick a gel or felt-tip eyeliner instead of a pencil that could pull on your lashes. (We love the soft brush tip of LORAC® Front of the LineTM; PRO Liquid Eyeliner, $23, a durable, yet not waterproof, formula.) In terms of tools, you should definitely avoid mechanical eyelash curlers, as they will only damage your extensions. If you want to add more lift to your lashes, stick with a heated curler, like this one from Lash Star® ($24).
You may want to switch some sleeping habits.
Elrod suggests sleeping on your back so your face does not press into your pillow, which will rub your lashes against your pillowcase and make them fall out more quickly. Truthfully, this can be one of the hardest adjustments to make after getting lash extensions for the first time, but the reward (longer-lasting lashes!) is worth the effort. An easier change to your routine: swap out your cotton pillowcase for a silk or satin one. According to Richardson, lashes won’t snag on silk or satin (because of the glide to the fabric) and they will help them last longer. We love the Slip® Silk Pillowcase ($85), which is made of hypoallergenic mulberry silk and comes in multiple shades to coordinate with your existing linens.
If you have sensitive eyes, proceed with caution.
It’s important to know your eyes and your habits. If you have severe allergies or tend to rub your eyes a lot, lash extensions may not be the right choice for you, Richardson advises. However, it’s worth consulting with your technician before you decide to pass on lashes altogether. For example, Envious Lashes offers a sensitive version of the formula for those who need it. You can also schedule a patch test in advance to determine your tolerance to the adhesive before you book an appointment, which Amazing Lash Studio provides for free. Ultimately, though, if you decide extensions aren’t for you, you still have options! Discover five ways to make your eyelashes look thicker without mascara here.
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