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Skincare & Beauty

Your Guide to Getting Eyelash Extensions

by MARIA DEL RUSSO

Whether you’re sick and tired of putting on mascara, or just looking for a more natural way to enhance your makeup look, eyelash extensions could be something worth looking into. They’re cousins to strip eyelashes that you get at the drugstore. But instead of being applied in a strip to the eyelid, lash extensions are applied to individual eyelashes one at a time, making them look much more natural. 

The beauty of lash extensions is, once they’re applied, you can pretty much forget about them until it’s time to get them refilled. And depending on the type you’re looking for, you can either make them look super glam or subtle and natural. 

But before you run down to your nearest salon and get eyelash extensions applied, there are some things to keep in mind. Ahead, find everything you need to know about eyelash extensions.

What are eyelash extensions?

Like we mentioned above, eyelash extensions are applied to individual lashes, giving them a longer, fuller look. They’re completely customizable and come in a wide range of materials, from mink, faux mink, faux fox, real human hair, and silk fibers. Certain salons will carry certain materials, so it’s a good idea to check in with your individual lash stylist to see what kind they offer. 

The lashes also come in different lengths, and different thicknesses and levels of curls which affect, the look you’re going for. The different levels of curls range from a “J” curl, which is a natural swoop, to a more dramatic “C” curl, which is a full-on curled lash. (1)

How much do they cost?

That depends entirely on the type of look you’re going for, which lash material you’re using, which salon you’re going to, and where that salon is located. Envious Lashes in New York City has lash extension appointments that cost anywhere between $175 and $550. Once you have your initial extensions, though, fill-ins and touch ups cost significantly less — around the $100 range.

That may seem pretty steep, but, with lash extensions, you definitely get what you pay for. Pricier options mean better quality lashes and glue with less chance of irritation and damage to your actual lashes. And a qualified lash stylist may cost more, but they’re also more likely to apply the lashes quickly, efficiently, and safely. In other words? Like with facials, this is one area of your beauty routine you don’t want to skimp on. Plus — think of all the money you’ll save on mascara and eyeliner!

How long do they last?

Lash extensions are adhered to your natural lashes, so they fall out along with your lashes’ natural growth cycle. That differs from person to person, but the average growth cycle of a lash is six weeks. (2) However, your lashes are not on the same growth cycle which means that lashes are falling out at different times. The average time for lash refill ranges from 2-4 weeks depending on how much volume has been lost.

Also, lashes will fall out much more quickly if they’re not taken care of. Excessive rubbing will cause the lashes to fall out, as will using oily product around your eyes. Oil breaks down the bonds in the glue that’s used to adhere the lashes to your natural set. So make sure to avoid oil-based cleansers and makeup, and be extremely gentle if you’re applying and removing eyeshadow and eyeliner. 

Most lash stylists will tell you to avoid wearing mascara while your extensions are in place. (The main reason most people get fake lashes is to skip mascara, after all.) But if you absolutely feel the need to pop some on, just make sure it’s oil-free. 

What is the application process like?

Application can take up to an hour or more, depending on the number of lashes you have, how curly they are and how thick the extensions  are. You’ll lay on your back, and your lash stylist will tape around your lashes (painlessly stretches your upper eyelid) in order to help them see the individual lashes. They will also apply white pads on your lower eyelid to serve as a contrast background. Then, he or she will apply each lash individually with tweezers and glue. It’s mostly painless, unless you have a reaction to the glue. (More on that below.) More often than not, people fall asleep during their appointments because their eyes are closed!

Are there drawbacks to eyelash extensions?

As a matter of fact, there are. “Eyelash extensions can be bad for your eyes for several reasons,” says ophthalmologist Chimene Richa, MD. “The glue they use often contains formaldehyde. This can be very irritating to the eye and can cause allergic reactions in some people.” The solvents that remove the lashes can also be irritating. Reactions can range from conjunctivitis to keratitis, which is the inflammation of the cornea. 

“According to the College of Optometrists in England, repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft,” says Dr. Richa. “As a result, this can damage the hair follicle, which can slow or even cease the production of hair.”

Certain salons, especially salons that are on the budget end of the price spectrum, may attempt to cut your natural lashes in order to make application of the extensions easier. This is unnecessary and not advised, as it can cause damage to the lashes and lid. If the salon you visit insists on cutting your lashes, cancel the appointment and find a more reputable location.


REFERENCES

Town & Country. Every Question You’ve Ever Had About Lash Extensions Answered. Accessed August 28, 2019. View resource

Amereican Academy of Ophthalmology. Will Burned Eyelashes Grow Back? Accessed August 28, 2019. View resource.

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