I originally started getting eyelash extensions right before my wedding. I was used to wearing false eyelash strips for both dance and theatre growing up, but I didn’t want to have to deal with them peeling off on my big day, or have to worry about my mascara running with all the happy tears and snow (yes, it snowed on my wedding day!) My sister had gotten lash extensions before and I loved the way they looked, so I thought I would give them a go! I have continued to get them done ever since.
I love my eyelash extensions because they make my life so much easier. Because my lashes are so blonde, I always felt like I had to wear mascara or I would look 12 and boyish. I would need to coat my lashes multiple times, plus add in eyeliner, which would take up some time each morning. Getting lash extensions has made my morning routine on work days much faster, as I wear very minimal makeup on the job. I have been getting lash extensions for about 1-1/2 years now, and I am very happy with the results. Lashes are my one beauty splurge and I think they are totally worth it. That said, there are a few things you need to know before you get lash extensions applied.
You MUST do your research.
Know your Technician: As with any beauty treatment, you need to make sure you are going to a reputable lash technician since they will be working on a sensitive area of your body and using different chemicals. You must make sure that your lash tech is certified. Many states also require lash technicians to hold cosmetologist or esthetician licenses. Bottom line: Be aware of the laws in your state. Before scheduling your appointment, be sure to ask if your tech is certified, and at your appointment you can also ask to see their certification if it is not already displayed. This is not insulting to your tech; if they do seem hesitant to show you their credentials or become defensive that could be a big red flag.
Make sure the area is clean. My salon puts paper down on the table, just like a doctor’s office to ensure cleanliness between patients/clients. My tech always washes her hands in front of me, and wears a mask so she is not breathing on my face during my session.
Know Your Lash Options: Once you have established trust with a technician, you will need to know your options for your lashes. First, lashes are made from three different materials: Synthetic fibers, silk, and mink. I would recommend sticking with either silk or mink, as synthetic lashes are exactly that. Made of synthetic (processed) materials that could more easily irritate your eyes. Mink lashes are the highest quality and the most natural looking, however they are also the most expensive. I get silk lashes. They are still great quality but are more cost effective.
Lashes come in different lengths as well, ranging from 6mm to 17mm (this could vary depending on where you get your lashes done.) They also come in different curls, like C or J. C shaped lashes curl into a shape like a C, just as J curls are less curved and look more like a J. You will also get to choose the overall shape of your lashes. Salons may have different names for each style, and they should go over all of your options with you as well as recommending the length and curl that they think will be best to achieve the look you desire. I tend to get a “cat-eye” where the lashes gradually get longer as you move to the outer edge of the eye. I tend to get a mix of 10mm, 11mm and 12mm, C shape extensions as I like my lashes to look a little more natural. For my wedding I opted for longer, volumizing lashes for more drama. You can talk to your technician to see if they offer this option. Some lash salons also offer different colored lashes as well. Prior to your first appointment, your lash tech should consult with you to discuss what you are looking for. Prior to every follow-up, your tech should ask how you like your lashes and if you want to ‘tweak’ anything.
Know The Types of Glue: Eyelash extensions are adhered to lashes using lash glue. You need to verify the type of glue that your technician will be using. This glue needs to be medical grade glue and safe to use on the body and near the eyes. You might have heard in the news about severe reactions to eyelash glue– this glue IS NOT medical grade, and often contains formaldehyde, which releases fumes and causes burning and redness. If your tech is using medical grade glue, this is much less likely to happen. Although irritation is less likely with the correct glue, reactions still do happen. If you have very sensitive skin, or have had reactions to adhesive in the past, you should first ask to put a sample of the glue on the inside of your wrist to see if you develop any kind of reaction. During your session, if you develop any kind of burning, irritation, or start tearing, you need to inform your lash tech. They might need to switch to a “sensitive” version of the glue. This type of glue generally does not hold as well, but is an option if you have sensitive skin/eyes. Be aware that you can also develop a sensitivity. This happened to my sister. The first few times she got extensions she was fine, but after a couple more sessions, she had a reaction to the glue and could no longer have her lashes done at her original salon. Do not lose hope; not all salons use the same glue, so you might be able to go elsewhere. Pro tip: if you are unable to brush through your lashes easily, your tech used too much glue, or glued one lash extension to multiple natural lashes, instead of an individual one. This can cause clumping and discomfort as your lashes grow out. If this happens to you, talk with your tech or see someone else with more experience!
*IMPORTANT: Know the difference between an infection and an allergic reaction. A licensed and experienced lash technician will not let an infection occur, but some symptoms could include swelling, redness, warmth around the eye, discoloration of the whites of the eye and a thick discharge. If this occurs seek medical attention. Unfortunately, if you’re allergic to the glue, you’re still going to be allergic, hygiene will not change this fact.
Know The Time Frame: Your first set of eyelash extensions could take anywhere from 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how many lashes you have and the condition of your lashes, as they are gluing on the individual lashes one at a time. After your initial visit you will need to return to have your lashes filled. Our natural lashes are always growing and eventually fall out, so your extensions will also grow out, or soon fall out. I have my lashes retouched about every three weeks. This takes about 60 to 90 minutes depending on how well my lashes held up over the prior couple of weeks.
Know what you can and cannot do:
Water: After each session you cannot get your lashes wet for 48 hours. This includes steam, so no showering, unless it is cold or quick! This is to allow the glue to dry and adhere properly. After this 48 hour period, you are free to shower, just do not scrub your lashes or submerge them in water for too long, as it will eventually loosen the lashes or make them fall out.
Makeup: Do not use any oil-based makeup or lotion around your lashes as this will degrade the glue prematurely. I would also recommend NOT using mascara on your lashes (not that you will need it); especially water proof mascara as it will cause the lashes to clump in unnatural ways, and you will not be able to wash it off.
Caring for your lashes: Your lash tech should provide you with a clean spoolie brush to groom your new lashes with. Most techs instruct you to brush your lashes when you wake up, after you shower, and before you go to bed. You can do this if your lashes become out of line too. Make sure you never pull on your lashes to ‘rearrange them.’ This is what causes damage and breakage to your natural lashes. If you do get tired of having lash extensions, I recommend having a professional remove them for you, as removing them yourself can result in painfully ripping out your lashes, or damaging them.
Common questions I get about extensions:
Q: Aren’t you worried about getting glue in your eyes?
A: No! Your eyes are closed during your entire session, so no glue will ever get into your eye.
Q: Does it hurt?
A: Not at all! I find having my eyelashes done to be very relaxing and have even fallen asleep during sessions. The only discomfort you may have is from the glue (which you need to speak up about!) or when they remove the tape from your face (many techs use medical tape to hold your skin as they work so they can better see your lashes.) My eyes do tend to water when they first turn on their bright light, as my eyes are inherently sensitive to light, but they soon adjust and I am quite comfortable.
Q: Could it cause blindness?
A: No. Again, if you are working with a credible lash tech, you will be in good hands. Your lash professional should be trained and competent in applying glue and lashes in a way that is harmless to you and your anatomy. Your eyes are closed for the procedure. No matter how bad an allergic reaction may get, you will not go blind- you just may need some medicated eye drops.
Q: Will they ruin your natural lashes
A: This is easily the most asked question I get and the biggest myth regarding lash extensions. Extensions will not destroy your natural lashes if they are applied correctly and taken care of properly. Again, be sure not to rub your eyes or tug or pull on the extensions because this WILL cause lash damage and loss.
I love my lash extensions, but they do require maintenance. There is also a cost associated with getting your lashes done and keeping them filled which has to be factored into the “splurge” budget. I have been able to find a very reputable, yet more affordable location near me, but many lash salons charge a hefty price. For me, this is one splurge that I find completely worth it for my lifestyle, but if the price is a problem, you can always try high-quality false eyelash strips. Let me know if you are interested in a tutorial on how to apply these falsies by commenting on this post!
XOXO, Cait B.
**Disclaimer- this information is from my personal experience. I do not consider myself an expert on this topic. If you have specific questions regarding your lashes and if extensions are safe for you, talk with your optometrist or with a professional lash technician.**