Everything You Need to Know About Eyelash Extensions
I have a not-so-secret secret: I get eyelash extensions. I know, it sounds ridiculous. When I first heard of eyelash extensions I gave the BIGGEST eyeroll. "How vain" I thought, what a waste of time and money.
How wrong I was.
When you work in an operating room, the only thing that shows are your eyes. You’re wearing shapeless scrubs, a scrub cap, and a mask. You get up early, you’re tired, and have no time for make up. So you roll into work with oversized under-eye bags, and eventually you grow weary of people asking you, “Are you tired?”
Then my friend got eyelash extensions. And they looked GOOD. They weren’t clumpy, rigid, or fake looking like many I had seen before. They looked natural. The only way I could tell was because, again, all we see are each other’s eyes, so we get pretty familiar with them. Then another girl got them. So I decided to take the plunge. Now, three years later, I can confidently say that lash extensions have changed my life. That might sound over dramatic, but would it change your life if you could roll out of bed, look in the mirror, and see someone who looked well rested without having to put on a drop of makeup?
But it took me a while to find the right product, location, and lash specialist. So I am here to help you decide if eyelash extensions are right for you, and what type would suit you best.
Who is a Good Candidate for Eyelash Extensions?
Eyelash extensions are not for everyone. Listed below are the top considerations when deciding whether they are right for you.
You have short eyelashes. This one is simple. If you already have long luscious eyelashes, just pop on some mascara and call it a day. But if you have short sad lashes like me, read on.
You do not routinely wear, or plan to wear, a lot of eye make-up. This one is a little more controversial. I know people with extensions who still put on a ton of eye make on top of their lashes, but personally I think this leads to them getting dirty much faster and easier. Because lash extensions can be difficult to clean, they look their best and last the longest when you use minimal additional make-up. I think the best candidates are those who want the look of bigger brighter eyes with the least amount of effort.
You're going on a big trip. The first time I ever got extensions was for a two-week Europe trip. I didn't want to worry about putting on make-up every day or having it wash off on the beach. I went to a cheaper place because I knew I wouldn't be getting them re-filled, and they were perfect.
You can commit to an hour and a half appointment at least once a month. Your natural eyelashes shed, and your extensions will fall out with them. That means that you will need a re-fill at least once a month (I usually go every three weeks). For some people this may be a deal breaker. But remember how much time you'll be saving in the mornings!
You can afford at least $80 a month. Eyelash extensions are not cheap. The initial application can cost anywhere from $150 to $300, and refills can cost between $60-$120 depending on your location, product, and the expertise of your lash specialist. This would have been a deal breaker for me, until I realized that I never get my nails done, I hardly buy make-up, and I cut my own hair. So yes, while it is a bit extravagant, it's my ONE extravagance, and I love it.
Who is NOT a Good Candidate for Eyelash Extensions?
In addition to the considerations above, there are a few more things to consider that may not fit with lash-life.
You sleep on your stomach. If you are primarily a stomach sleeper, eyelash extensions may not be right for you. Because the lashes are longer, it is much more obvious when they go the wrong direction, and one of the most common lifestyle habits that will make them grow awry is sleeping on your stomach. I sleep primarily on my side and they still get a bit wonky sometimes, but I am usually able to brush them into submission. Sleeping on your back is really the best if you are able.
You HAVE TO touch your eyes. I'm not talking about contacts. I have contacts and they do not interfere at all. I'm talking about people who get freaked out that they can't touch their eyes when they're cleaning their face. The lashes I get come with a specific pad for cleaning, but you don't want to put regular soap, facewash, or makeup remover on them because it could dissolve the glue. Some people really hate that.
You have VERY sensitive skin. Each product and stylist uses a different type of adhesive. Some are medical grade, some are not. My good friend has very sensitive skin so I recommended she see my lash girl because her adhesive is hypoallergenic and medical grade. Unfortunately, she still had a reaction. A few Benadryl later she was fine, but she is still dealing with some dry skin around her lower lids.
Do Eyelash Extensions Make Your Real Eyelashes Fall Out?
No, properly applied eyelash extensions should not affect your natural lashes. They will continue to grown and fall out like normal. I have had eyelash extensions for two years now and my lashes are still growing strong and healthy. However, poorly applied lash extensions can hinder lash growth. For example, if lashes are applied too close to the lash line, they can irritate the eye and hinder growth. Or if the extensions are too heavy or too curled, the natural lash can fall out prematurely. These are both reasons why you want to choose an experienced lash stylist.
How to Choose a Lash Stylist
All lash stylists are not created equal. Like every other skill, more experience equals better performance. But it's not just the application that you need to research, it's the product, the length and the glue.
Animal Fur (Mink, Sable or Fox) - The original luxury lash extension is made of animal fur, usually mink hair. The positive: it is incredibly realistic and very light. The negative: the cost, the maintenance, and the ethics. Mink and other animal furs are the most expensive type of lash extension, but because it is real hair it does not hold a curl when it gets wet. This means you will have to curl your lashes at home with a heated curler. Ain't nobody got time for that. Also, the hair is often obtained from animals in fur farms. While most companies advertise "cruelty-free" lashes, it is almost impossible to tell which brands are being honest, and which are not. Peta has compiled a list of brands selling cruelly obtained mink lashes, and recommends only using synthetic material.
Silk - Silk lashes are heavier than natural animal fur, which can make them more noticeable for the wearer and often more uncomfortable. With the advances in synthetic lashes, silk lashes have become less popular for every day wear, but remain popular for a dramatic, special occasion look.
Synthetic - Synthetic used to imply heavy, thick, manmade lashes. But today, there is a wide variety of very light synthetic lashes including "faux mink", "faux silk", "cashmere" and my personal favorite, NovaLash. NovaLash makes lashes so light, they are able to attached three extensions to each natural lash, giving you a much thicker volume. And as your natural lashes start to shed, the added volume allows you to go longer between re-fills. Another plus, synthetic lashes keep their curl! No need to worry about curling after swimming or showering.
LENGTH AND CURL
Length - Most lash salons will carry lengths from about 8mm-15mm. I usually get a mix of 8mm-12mm. A mix of lengths allows for a more natural look, and for your first time I usually recommend staying more in the 9mm range. Even with the shortest length I felt like a camel the first time I got them.
Curl - Lashes come in different curl shapes that are identified by letters. The tighter the curl, the more dramatic the effect, but your natural lash shape will influence how much curl they are able to use. From my stylist, Andrea Bucci at The Art of Lash and Brow, "If you have straighter lashes you go with an extension with a straighter base, and if you have curlier lashes you can use a curlier base. If you use a curly lash on someone with straight lashes the extension wont last because it wont adhere properly as the lash grows." Lash Stuff has a great chart explaining the different types of curls and which one is best for your natural lash shape. I usually get a B shape curl, it has a straight base but is slightly more curled at the end for a natural "just used an eyelash curler" kind of look.
Glue - Eyelash extensions are only as good at the glue that holds them. But that glue is very close to your eye, so you want to make sure there are no dangerous chemicals in there. The main ingredient in all eyelash glue is cyanoacrylate, which is considered safe and effective. But always ask the salon what brand of lash glue they use, and make sure it is free of formaldehyde, which can injure the cornea. Even if their glue does not include formaldehyde, you can still have a reaction if you have sensitive skin, so considered asking for a spot test with one or two lashes before committing.
Ask how much experience the lash stylist has and to see before and after pictures if they are not shown on their website or instagram. Make sure you are choosing someone whose style matches your own (natural vs. dramatic).
How to Shower with Eyelash Extensions
Like normal! Depending on the product and glue used, you may need to wait up to 24hr before you shower, but with my NovaLash extensions I am able to shower right away. You just want to avoid any excessive eye scrubbing. Makeup can be cleaned by most non oil based make-up removers, but it is best to ask your lash specialist what she recommends.
A Note on Price
Applying lash extensions is time consuming, and you stylist also needs to pay for the product, the glue, and the rental of her studio. So while prices can be steep, they are fair. That being said, I would be wary of anyone offering a full set of eyelash extensions under $150. I once got a Groupon for extensions in Pasadena, California, and the lashes were so stiff, heavy and uncomfortable that I did not even return for my pre-paid refill. I mean no offense to Groupon, I love Groupon, but these are your eyes we're talking about, make sure you have done the research before you pay money to let someone touch them. In short, you get what you pay for.
Eyelash Extensions and Surgery
Currently no governing bodies, including ACS, AORN, CDC, or the Joint Commission, address eyelash extensions in the operating room. As the lashes are attached to each individual lash, there should be no additional risk of lashes falling on a surgical field. However, it is my recommendation and professional opinion that any person scrubbed in with eyelash extensions should wear a face shield attached to a face mask (as opposed to googles and other types of eye protection) to prevent the possibility of a lash "popping off" and contaminating the sterile field. Let's keep our patients safe.
Where I Go
If you looking for eyelash extensions in Los Angeles, I have been going to Andrea Bucci at The Art of Lash and Brow for two years and she does a phenomenal job. This is not a paid partnership, I receive no benefit from referring customers, I just love her work.
Conclusion: Are Eyelash Extensions Worth It?
In a word: Yes. They are not for everyone, and are definitely an investment, but they have given me so much more confidence and I am very happy with them. This is not a sponsored post. I received no payment or benefit from anything mentioned in this article, I just truly love the confidence I have gained and the time I save in the mornings. I love my NovaLash extensions because they require very low daily maintenance, save me a huge amount of time, and help me feel more confident at work.