All good things have to come to an end, including lash extensions. And while extensions can last beautifully for up to four weeks, at some point you’ll want to remove your eyelash extensions or get them filled.
I’m a self-taught makeup artist with years of industry experience. I’ve had many clients ask me if they can remove their eyelash extensions themselves. If you wondering how to remove eyelash extensions safely you’ve come to the right place. And while I usually recommend seeing your lash tech for proper lash removal, sometimes you just want those extensions off now!
I’m here to give you a step-by-step tutorial on how to safely remove your eyelash extensions at home and what you’ll need to get the job done.
By the end of this guide, you’ll know how to:
- Remove your eyelash extensions
- When to remove your extensions
- When to see your lash tech
- Risks of removing lash extensions at home
- And, the best natural lash extension removers
How to remove eyelash extensions
Removing your lash extensions yourself is a straightforward process. With the right supplies and some patience on your part it can be completed in about an hour.
PRO TIP: Wait until your extensions are at the end of their lifecycle. The longer you’ve been wearing the extensions, the weaker the glue bond will be.
Tutorial on removing eyelash extensions
Step 1: Cleanse your face
Gently cleanse your face and eye area to remove any built-up makeup or debris in the lashes while avoiding any pulling or tugging on the eye area.
I like to jump-start the process by using an oil-based cleanser such as Camellia Oil Cleanser to help loosen the lashes and ease the removal process.
Step 2: Use steam
Fill a bowl or your sink with steaming hot water and then place your face over it. Cover your head with a towel to ensure the steam doesn’t escape.
Remain in this position for 15 – 20 minutes to help soften the lash glue and get the adhesive to begin to loosen. I usually wear my earbuds and listen to my favorite playlist while waiting.
Step 3: Warm the oil
Coconut oil is great for removing lash extensions, but you can also use other types of oil such as olive oil, MCT oil, or other vegetable oils (more on which oils are best later).
Place the oil in a small bowl and warm it for just a few seconds. Make sure to test the oil with your finger before application to make sure it isn’t too hot to the touch.
Step 4: Soak some cotton pads
Once your oil is warm, soak one to two cotton pads in it. Place the pad over one eye and let it sit for five to ten minutes. Now, carefully run the pad across your eyelash, letting the oil sit on the lash for a couple of minutes.
Step 5: Remove the extensions
Using a q-tip soaked in your oil of choice, gently wipe it across your eyelashes again until they begin to come off. Make sure the lashes naturally fall off.
If you tug or pull at them, they could damage your natural lashes, so perform this step with extreme caution.
Repeat steps 4 and 5 with your other eye.
Step 6: Wash your face, again!
Now that your extensions are off, cleanse your face again but this time using a gentle oil-free cleanser like Cetaphil to remove any residual oil and glue from your skin.
PRO TIP: Do not cut, pick, pull or rub on your lash extensions! Ever. This may damage your natural lashes, or worse, cause injury to your eyes. Instead, take a hot shower to try to help loosen the glue on the lash line. As much as you want to get the extensions off fast, try as much as possible to keep your hands off the lashes.
For the best results be patient!
Is it safe to remove eyelash extensions at home?
The easiest way to remove lash extensions at home is to wait until most of the lashes have already fallen out and you’re at that 2-3 week mark when you’d be going in for a fill. At this point, the glue used will already be degraded and the extensions will come off easily at home.
If you are wanting to remove a full set of new professionally applied lash extensions it’s best to let a your lash tech do it for you. A good lash tech will have access to high-grade lash removal products.
Eyelash extensions are applied using surgical-grade glue. The active ingredient in lash glue is called cyanoacrylate. It’s the same active ingredient used in Krazy Glue! This glue is very strong so if you can book a removal appointment with a professional, the better.
Risks of removing eyelash extensions at home
It’s safe to say that you’ll be OK if you follow the above steps on how to remove eyelash extensions. But I feel you should be wary of the risks before jumping right into the process.
The common risks include:
- Damaging your natural lashes by pulling or rubbing too vigorously
- Risk of eye infections like blepharitis or trichiasis
- Use of poor-quality removal products
- Applying too much oil to your skin could clog your pores
If you’re concerned I recommend getting your lash extensions removed professionally to be on the safe side.
Will extension removal damage my natural lashes?
You shouldn’t worry about your natural eyelashes getting damaged when removing lash extensions. The only exception is if you use harsh products to remove the extensions or pluck at your lashes or if you’re trying to remove a brand new set of extensions.
PRO TIP: Removing a brand new set of lash extensions is not recommended and is more likely to pull out your natural lashes. If you must remove a set of newly applied extensions please see a professional lash artist to help you.
Also, your natural lashes may fall off together with the extensions if they are glued together. This is why I recommend having your lash extensions applied by a professional to avoid such problems.
For more, read our in-depth guide on “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Lash Extensions.
Natural eyelash extension removers
Coconut oil works fast when used with cotton pads to remove lash extensions. It takes less than an hour to break the glue molecules, making it a people go-to remover.
Coconut oil is also a long-chain fatty acid that can penetrate the hair shaft and is safe to use around your eyes. Many people actually use coconut oil as a way to enhance lash growth and as a way to rehab their lashes after wearing extensions for prolonged periods of time.
For more on the beauty benefits this amazing oil, check out our article on “Does Coconut Oil Make Your Eyelashes Grow?”
Although a bit slower than coconut oil, olive oil is also very safe to use around your eyes.
Pompeian Robust Extra Virgin Oil is my go-to. Warm it up and use cotton pads to apply it to the lash extensions. Wait for a few minutes and remove the extensions.
Benefits of using olive oil are that it’s quite nourishing as it contains vitamins A, D, E, and K! It’s also easy to come by.
Baby oil contains minimal irritants and is a decent alternative to natural oil. You still have to be cautious that the oil doesn’t get into your eyes during removal.
Oil-based makeup remover
Use an oil-based makeup remover that contains glycol. One of the most common glycols you will find added to makeup removers, as well as many moisturizers is Caprylyl glycol.
Caprylyl glycol is a type of alcohol derived from coconut or palm oils. This ingredient is a natural emollient to the skin, aka a moisturizer. It also works to break down the adhesive bonds in lash glue. This is the main reason lash technicians will instruct you to avoid using an oil-based makeup remover around your eyes and on your lash extensions.
To gradually remove lash extensions use an oil-based makeup remover daily and you’ll soon begin to see the extensions fall out.
While I do not recommend castor oil for eyelash removal I did want to include it in my list. While castor oil is great as a natural eyelash serum, it does not dissolve glue molecules quickly. You may have to leave it on your lashes for hours before attempting to remove them. That’s why I recommend the above Castor oil alternatives for faster results.
Eyelash extension removal FAQ
Can Vaseline remove eyelash extensions?
Surprisingly, Vaseline is more than a skin moisturizer. The product is powerful enough to dissolve and loosen molecules in lash glue.
This feature makes it capable of removing eyelash extensions but it is not one I would personally recommend as petroleum jelly like Vaseline is a by-product of oil refining. The product is strong and can cause damage to your lashes and eyes if mishandled.
If you choose to try Vaseline I would advise you buy only pure Vaseline from a reliable vendor. Some brands sell imitation, which can be risky as the products contain harmful carcinogens.
Can I use a professional eyelash extension remover?
Professional eyelash remover is formulated with potent glue-dissolving ingredients. These products pose serious risks if they accidentally get into your eyes. Professional eyelash remover is best applied by it a licensed lash stylist.
Professional lash artists will typically use a cream or gel eyelash remover. Gel remover is the best when targeting a few lash extensions. Cream remover is also recommended for lash removal.
Is it painful to remove eyelash extensions?
No, if you follow the recommended removal products and steps, you won’t feel the lash extensions coming off.
PRO TIP: Never, ever, use tweezers on your lashes. This is a bad idea all around. Plucking your lash extensions can result in a bacterial infection like blepharitis or trichiasis, both painful eye infections that will necessitate a trip to an ophthalmologist for treatment.
The only time you feel pain is if the extensions were applied wrongly or you are having an allergic reaction. Pulling or plucking at your lashes can also be painful so please, don’t.
When should you remove eyelash extensions?
The ideal time to remove lash extensions depends on the reason behind the removal.
If you are having an allergic reaction to the eyelash glue then please, get your lashes removed by a professional immediately. The same applies if your extensions were improperly applied.
If you are not planning on getting a refill, you should remove your extensions 2-3 weeks after the initial application. By the 9th week, the eyelash extensions will be completely worn out.
If you do want a refill, you’ll want to make an appointment with your nail tech on the same day as you get your first set applied.
Do eyelash extensions ruin your natural lashes?
Unless your extensions are misapplied, they will not ruin your natural lashes.
Choose a suitable length and thickness for your lash extensions. And get your application process done by a professional lash tech. Check their Instagram for reviews if you’ve never booked with them before.
We all know how much lash extensions cost. Extensions are an investment and you’ll want the best possible results so don’t skimp here. (Trust me, it’s not worth it).
For a deep dive, read our article on “Do Lash Extensions Ruin Your Eyelashes.”
What do you do if your eyelash extensions won’t come off?
Try the suggested removers or make an appointment with your lash technician.
If the eyelash extensions fail to come off, that’s a sign your remover isn’t strong enough to dissolve the glue molecules. Soap and water alone aren’t enough to loosen the strong adhesive used to secure the lashes.
Help! I accidentally pulled out my natural lashes
If you accidentally went overboard and rubbed at your extensions while trying to get them off and lost several of your natural lashes in the process don’t panic. This has happened to the best of us. Put the q-tip down and take a deep breath.
Your eyelashes will grow back, it just takes time. How long does it take for eyelashes to grow back? A lash cycle usually takes from 4-8 weeks. I recommend giving your lashes a break and treating them with a quality eyelash serum to jump start the regrowth process. Once they’re grown back in you can get extensions again.
Takeaways on how to remove eyelash extensions
Knowledge is power. If you invest some time and energy into learning how to remove your eyelash extensions safely at home you’ll save yourself a few trips to the salon in the future. You’ll also learn a lot about how to care for your extensions, a lesson that I’d argue is worth its weight in gold.
It takes the right products and some practice to take lash extensions off safely. Most importantly, go see your lash tech if you have any doubts!