What started as a fun beauty experiment for a girl’s day out has become one of my signature looks. I’m talking about wearing lash extensions!
So, what are lash extensions? Lash extensions are synthetic or animal-derived fibers that are manually attached to each one of your natural eyelashes to make them look fuller, longer, and more luscious.
This secret weapon in your beauty arsenal truly takes time off of your daily makeup routine and makes an impression that’ll wow everyone around you. This advice is coming from a person who typically only wears CC cream and mascara!
My years of experience as a frequent eyelash extension addict have brought me here to share everything you need to know about getting lash extensions.
From the details of the application process to the drawbacks, here’s my tell-all mega guide so you can decide if these beauty accessories are right for you!
What to expect from this guide
In this guide, I cover everything you need to know about the process of choosing, applying, and maintaining your lashes.
I’m going to go over what lash extensions are, the different types, and what to avoid.
I will also discuss the benefits of lash extensions and answer the question I get in every lash extension conversation: whether eyelash extensions are safe.
Many of you want to go to a professional to have your eyelash extensions done but don’t know where to start. Consider me your personal beauty guru in all things lashes because I’m giving you everything you need to know.
Let’s get to it!
What are eyelash extensions?
Eyelash extensions are synthetic or animal-derived fibers applied directly to your natural eyelashes by a technician in a cosmetics store like Ulta or beauty salons.
Would you believe me if I told you that the very first eyelash extensions came about when women sewed their natural hair into their eyelids to create a bold and daring look? In pursuit of these lush lashes they often even used cocaine to numb the pain of the process! Ouch!
That’s not all. Some cultures look at long eyelashes as a virtue of purity. Others, like our own societal norms in Western culture, see thickly lashed eyes as bold, beautiful, and a sign of youthfulness.
Lash extension types
There are four types of lash extension materials and lash extension styles. You can choose from:
- Silk: Silk lashes are softer and slightly glossy.
- Faux Mink: These are finer than silk, so it’s necessary to apply a few more lashes. The extra fluff is nice for special occasions.
- Mink Lashes: Made from real mink fur, mink lashes provide a very realistic lash that most closely resembles natural eyelashes.
- Synthetic material: Most extensions fall in this category and are made from a plastic fiber called PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate).
Lash lengths vary from as short as six millimeters to an impressive 17 millimeters. The length you choose depends on the look and comfortability that you’re going for.
Synthetic materials are the most requested fibers for eyelash extensions because they’re affordable, don’t cause harm to animals, and are easy to use. Silk lash extensions come in second place because of their lightweight and comfortability.
Lash extension styles
There are four main styles of lash extensions:
- Classic lash extensions: Classic extensions are perfect for everyday wear because they look natural and aren’t overly dramatic or distracting.
- Hybrid lash extensions: These lashes combine classic and volume techniques into one. This type of lash extension is helpful if you have sparse lashes and need extra volume to fill in the gaps. It provides the length of classic lashes with the volume of volume lashes.
- Volume lash extensions: Are all about creating lush, full lashes. While they don’t increase the length as much as classic lashes, they work great for creating a fuller look if you have sparse lashes.
- Mega volume lash extensions: These are volume lashes on steroids. Perfect for a BIG impact but not an everyday wear type of lash.
- Cluster lash extensions: these lashes are pre-made fans known as clusters.
Is it safe to use lash extensions?
Eyelash extensions are safe as long as you get them done by an experienced aesthetician who uses safe materials, like a non-toxic eyelash glue that won’t harm your skin or negatively impact your eye health.
The first time I got eyelash extensions, my eyes became irritated and itchy by the third day. I thought it was just a result of my sweat mixing with the glue. Later, I found out that the adhesive used in the application contained formaldehyde which is a known allergen.
You can avoid nasty surprises like this by reading up on salons ahead of time. Look for salons or shops with 5-star reviews and that have an excellent track record of happy customers.
The benefits of lash extensions
The most significant benefit of getting lash extensions is that they can last for 2 to 3 weeks. You can stop using mascara to make your lashes appear longer, darker, and fuller. You’ll save money, time, and never have to deal with raccoon eyes again. Big deal? You bet!
Eyelash extensions are also very convenient for those of us who don’t want a lengthy makeup routine. For me, getting my eyelashes touched up every few weeks is a lot better than applying mascara daily and worrying about under-eye smudges throughout the day.
The drawbacks of lash extensions
The most commonly reported drawbacks of eyelash extensions are heaviness, itching, and natural lash breakage. While this won’t harm your healthy eyelashes, it may mean you’ll need to be more reliant on lash extensions in the future to get a full, lush look.
Another small complaint is that it’s difficult to wipe, rub, and wash your eyes while wearing lashes. For some extension wearers it’s a minor annoyance, for others it’s a big inconvenience.
The biggest drawback that comes with lash extensions is the risk factor of potentially developing ocular disorders from using unsafe glue.
Investigate the type of adhesive used by your technician as they can cause:
- Conjunctival erosion
Between March 2007 and March 2010, 107 women who received lash extensions and had no history of eye disease received ophthalmology care for irritation symptoms.
The glue used in each of these patients’ eyelash extension applications contained formaldehyde. Luckily, all of the women were able to recover with prescription eye drops and ointments.
You need to be vigilant when wearing lash extensions. If you start to feel the following symptoms, make sure to contact your doctor.
- Red swollen eyes
- Discharge from eyes
- Red coloring in the whites of your eyes
- Frequent eye-watering
- Pain in eyes
A doctor will help you figure out the cause, and you may have to remove the extensions.
How long does it take to get eyelash extensions done?
Be ready to sit in your technician’s chair for at least an hour to two hours. If you are going for a two or three-week touchup, it could take up to three hours.
Prepare beforehand by being in a place mentally and physically that allows you to be perfectly still. Make sure you’ve used the bathroom beforehand, and that you have something to keep your mind occupied.
I like to listen to an audiobook or my favorite podcast of the week. If my anxiety is particularly high from work, I’ll put together a relaxing playlist ahead of time.
I made a mistake once of thinking a touchup would be a shorter appointment, but I didn’t factor in that the technician would have to remove my old lashes first!
The application process
The application process for lash extensions is lengthy but straightforward. It’s best to dress comfortably as if you were going to a doctor’s appointment. To make things easier for your technician, be sure to come to your appointment with clean oil and makeup-free skin.
Keep in mind when you go for a touchup, the technician has to remove the old extensions and clean your natural lashes off before reapplying the new lash extensions.
How long do lash extensions last?
Eyelash extensions can last up to six weeks for some. The majority last from 2 to 3 weeks. I usually go for a touchup between three and five weeks.
By that time, the lashes don’t look as fresh as they did in the beginning. In some cases, a couple can fall off due to regular eyelash shedding.
One thing to watch out for is side sleeping. The first time I got eyelash extensions, I slept on my side.
Sleeping on my side bent the natural shape of my eyelashes. It took some time for me to fix it enough so that it didn’t look weird until I could get back to my technician to fix the side that was leaning to the left.
If you can, try to sleep on your back. Otherwise, if you really have to sleep on your side, you can get special 3D eyemasks and memory foam pillows that are designed for eyelash extensions.
For a more detailed explanation of how long eyelash extensions last with tips on extending their life, visit our post: How Long Do Eyelash Extensions Last
How much are eyelash extensions?
The price of eyelash extensions will differ per technician. However, it is safe to say that you will typically spend between $150 and $200. Eyelash extension prices can vary based on the eyelashes that you choose. One of my friends goes to a technician that charges $300 for the mink eyelash extensions.
Don’t forget to account for touchups. Once you get your initial set of eyelash extensions, you will need to get a touchup within 3 to 6 weeks which will cost between $40 and $80.
The price of lash extensions can vary by city as well, so make sure you get a quote before going in for your appointment.
Industry cost analysis
Did you know that in 2018 the false eyelash industry was valued at more than 1 billion dollars? Eyelash aestheticians make between $20 and $25 per hour, about $47,396 per year. More than 50 percent of technicians have been in the industry for more than one but less than five years.
The industry has a projected growth forecast of 6 percent through 2025. Some states require technicians to obtain a certificate before performing hands-on applications. A quick search online can pull up dozens of professional aestheticians in your area.
Where should you go for eyelash extensions?
My first recommendation in choosing a lash tech is to do your homework first.
Make sure the lash salon is clean and that the technician meets all state requirements if applicable. You can usually get a peek into an aesthetician’s practice by looking up their Instagram or YouTube account, as well as by reading any Yelp or Google reviews they may have.
Also, talk to them directly. Most professional aestheticians require a consult before the eyelash extension application. They want to meet you, understand how you want to look, and explain what they offer. It’s your opportunity to ask questions and get to know them more too.
The best lash tech
When I met with my aesthetician for a consult, she explained the distinct types of eyelashes and helped me choose ones based on my goal, which was to look natural but with full lashes. She was my third technician and the one I continue going back to.
While we do our research, it is no guarantee that we will know that our technician does. That’s why it’s essential that we find the best ones.
The best lash techs are professional, good communicators, and highly knowledgeable. They have safety standards in place and are experts in their field.
What to avoid
Cluster lashes are eyelash extensions that have three hairs in each lash. The purpose of them is to give your eyelashes a bolder, thicker, and fuller look. Many women choose to use cluster lashes because the application time is shorter.
The most significant issue with cluster lashes is their weight. They weigh down your natural eyelashes and cause premature breakage.
Fortunately, this is one thing you never have to worry about with regular lashes as long as they are appropriately maintained.
Can you wear makeup with lash extensions?
Yes, you can wear makeup with eyelash extensions. But, it is essential to know which makeup will enhance your lashes and which will harm them.
Avoid waterproof mascara and eye makeup. Trying to remove mascara with makeup removing wipes or pads will weaken the adhesive glue on your lashes and send you back to your aesthetician early for a touchup. I avoid mascara altogether.
Some brands of makeup offer lash-safe mascara, eyeshadow, and eyeliner. Search for these.
If you really want to wear mascara with your extensions, only do so if you have a classic set. You can read more on the topic here, mascara on eyelash extensions.
Can you wash your eyes with lash extensions?
Contrary to popular belief you can, in fact, wash your lash extensions. But, you have to do it the right way!
Until I understood how to properly clean my eyelash extensions, cleansing my face was the biggest challenge of having extensions.
I missed using my eye cream and it felt gross not to be able to cleanse around my eyes. I wasn’t thoroughly cleaning my eyes because I was afraid it would loosen up my lash extensions.
Part of the reason my first set of extensions only lasted one week was because I had no clue how to clean them the right way.
Here’s a guide to washing your eyes with lash extensions:
- First, rinse the lower part of your face below your eyes.
- Secondly, wash your forehead.
- Use a wet rag to wipe around your eyes gently and slowly, getting the corners and bottom eyelid.
- You can use a small cotton ball or Q-tip to wipe off the makeup on the parts of your eyes near the extensions.
- 2-3 times a week, use an eyelash extension shampoo to remove bacteria and dirt safely from your eyelashes.
Lash extension care
Here are my tips for properly caring for your lash extensions. These are all the things you should avoid to prevent damage or premature breakage of your eyelash extensions.
- Don’t get your extensions wet for 48 hours. Your technician may tell you that you only need to wait for 24 hours, but in my opinion, it is best to give it an extra day. My suggestion is to shower right before going so that you avoid water and steam for that time.
- Don’t rub or mess with your eyelashes. The more you touch them, the more the adhesive will weaken.
- Avoid oils. Oil cleansing, oil moisturizing, or using cleansers that have oils will cause your eyelash extensions to fall off. Never use oils if you want to make your eyelash extensions last.
- Don’t use an eyelash curler. The pressure you put on your eyelashes with a curler will weaken the adhesive and cause you to lose your lashes.
How to remove eyelash extensions
Removing your eyelash extensions is an effortless process if you visit your lash technician.
If you want to save money on the visit, you can attempt to do it at home.
But be warned! Your technician is the person best equipped to help you with lash extension removal.
If you must remove your eyelashes extensions yourself, I suggest reading our article on “How to Safely Remove Eyelash Extensions at Home.”
Castor oil is your friend
Castor oil is helpful in DIY eyelash extension removal. It’s gentle enough to not irritate your eyes and it can help your natural lashes grow.
After showering or washing your face in warm water, use your pointer finger to gently rub castor oil on your eyelashes.
Wait for 5 to 10 minutes, then check to see if any of the lashes come off easily. If not, wait another five minutes.
Once the lashes start coming off, follow with an oil-based makeup remover. The pads tend to work best for wiping off your eyes, and cleansing, and removing any excess glue.
Alternatives to eyelash extensions
While eyelash extensions are an excellent option for making your morning routine more manageable, it isn’t for everyone.
Not being able to wash your eyes every morning and night can be too big of a challenge for some. For me, I love how my vitamin E oil serum makes my eyes feel and look more youthful.
Here are some other ways you can get the full lash effect without eyelash extensions.
Bimatoprost and magnetic lashes
Bimatoprost is an FDA-approved prescription medicine that has been proven to increase the length, thickness, and darkness of eyelashes over 16 weeks.
Another option is magnetic eyelashes.
With magnetic eyelashes, you avoid the use of glue around the eyes. To put them on, place the top layer in place on top of your eyelashes. Then align the backside with the top, and they close magnetically.
The hype with magnetic eyelashes
Magnetic lashes are easy to remove, giving you the ability to enjoy your long eyelashes without the inability to wash your eyes each day. Since you can easily apply them daily at home, you avoid the cost of a traditional aesthetician appointment.
Magnetic lashes stay in place all day. There is no readjusting or heaviness to deal with, which makes them an excellent option for those uncomfortable with the eyelash extension application.
My personal favorite is magnetic lashes that use a magnetic eyeliner, like the ones from Glamnetic. I’m not a huge fan of the kind that sandwiches your eyelid between the magnetized lashes and a magnetic backing.
Key takeaways on lash extensions
Eyelash extensions enhance your eyelashes without having to maintain them throughout the day constantly.
To find out if eyelash extensions are for you, do your research. If you decide to go with a technician, have a consultation first to find out more information. It’s not a decision that you need to rush into, but I believe you can make it better if it’s informed.
And if you want stellar lashes but aren’t up for all the maintenance of eyelash extensions, you still have options! You can use magnetic lashes or even consult your doctor for Bimatoprost.
Laura is a beauty expert with 5 years prior experience working in cosmetics and lash salons. When not writing you can find her experimenting with the trending makeup looks, or reading a good book snuggled up with her French Bulldog Max. Laura is currently a contributing writer and Beauty Editor at BeatyStack.