A Quick Guide To Getting Eyelash Extensions

beautiful woman getting home service eyelash extension
What to Know About Eyelash ExtensionsKanawa_Studio - Getty Images

Mascara and falsies can only go so far in giving you that bright-eyed Bambi or winged, cat eye look. If you want fuller, longer, darker, and more fluttery eyelashes, eyelash extensions can get you there and even last up to a month or so with proper care, meaning no sticky mascara to apply—and then promptly scrub off a few hours later—day in and day out.

Meet Our Experts: Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes, Janet Weatherspoon, master lash artist and owner/CEO of DeLush Salon in Los Angeles, California, Linda Seferoviq, lash expert and artist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City

Most people are familiar with hair extensions by now, and eyelash extensions are similar in concept: your natural lashes get lengthened and bulked up with fibers that look and feel like real eyelash fringe. But eyelash extension materials, shapes, and even aspects of application techniques can vary, and there’s a lot to unpack about this beauty service as a first-timer, particularly because your eyes can be a sensitive place to treat, and yours will be closed during the entire process.

The good news though: Expert advice on eyelash extensions is available aplenty, so you can go into your appointment well-informed about all aspects of this service, from cost and time to care and maintenance. Here’s everything you need to know about eyelash extensions so you can bat your best lashes going forward.

What Are Lash Extensions?

“Eyelash extensions are synthetic fibers applied to the natural lashes,” says celebrity lash expert Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in Miami and New York City. “This will create thickness, length, and curl.”

In many cases, extensions can also add darkness to your lash lines, too, as many styles are meant to mimic the look of wearing mascara or falsies—just with the drama turned up a bit. Typically, lash artists or technicians will use semi-permanent glue to adhere extensions to existing lashes, with one extension placed on each individual natural eyelash (though volume “fan” extensions can up that ratio to multiple lashes per natural eyelash).

As far as the extensions themselves go, you’ll find a variety of shapes and materials available at different studios and salons. According to Janet Weatherspoon, master lash artist and owner/CEO of DeLush Salon in Los Angeles, lashes can be made out of the following materials: synthetic, silk, mink, and synthetic mink (which are made to mimic real mink). Your lash goals, personal preferences, and budget should guide your decision to choose one material over another, and you should specify your choice before your appointment to make sure you get what you want.

For some guidance here, Richardson says silk is the darkest option followed by general synthetic (both can create bolder looks) while mink and synthetic minks are a softer shade of black and a little more natural in appearance. Two things to note here as well: Vegans will want to steer clear of mink products, and real mink often is the most expensive material offered for extensions as well.

Once you’ve decided what material extensions are best for you, shape and length will be your next considerations, and it’s never really a one-size-fits-all solution. That’s because your natural lashes and eye shape come into play here as well as the end result you want, be it more natural or super-noticeable and glam.

“The shape of lashes to go for depends on the client’s vision, and, of course, choosing a talented lash artist who will be able to create it,” says Richardson. “Most clients request a cat eye [a winged, angular eyeliner-esque look], but this style applied on down-turned eyes can make the eyes appear droopier.” Richardson says the most popular curls are C and D curls, named for the letters they look like, but others exist. Describe what you want to your artist–bring reference pictures if you can—but be open to a tech’s advice as to how to best achieve the look you want given your unique facial structure.

You’ll likely also talk about the quantity of lashes at this point, too, which directly affects your set’s perceived fullness. “The fuller the look, the more lashes are used,” says lash expert Linda Seferoviq, an artist at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City, New York. According to Weatherspoon, most people have about 90 to 150-plus lashes applied per eye. “For a natural look, you would want to stay in that range,” says Weatherspoon. “For a more glam look, volume would be ideal, as each volume fan can range from four to six lashes, and one fan is applied to each natural lash.”

Again, depending on your lash inspo, Richardson says you should expect to get a custom mix of different shapes. Individual lashes can also be mixed with fans, too.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Wearing Lash Extensions?

Right about now, a set of lash extensions probably seems high maintenance or, at the very least, involved. Certainly, it’s easy to come to that conclusion based on the wide range of materials, shapes, and lengths of lashes available to navigate through at providers, and you haven’t even heard about how long application takes or their cost yet. That being said, once your extensions are done, they can enhance the appearance of your eyes and be such a time-saver in your everyday beauty routine, particularly if you’re a two coats of waterproof mascara kind of person.

Essentially, with lash extensions, you get a bright-eyed, awake, and relatively done-up look without having to put on or remove any stubborn lash makeup. “Wearing lash extensions will allow you to apply your makeup with less effort,” says Richardson. “It can lift and open your eyes when applied by a skilled licensed artist and gives you a youthful, flirty appearance.”

Weatherspoon agrees with both of those notions. “Any busy person, mom, professional or student that needs to be ready to go at a drop of a dime can benefit from extensions,” she says. “They are also ideal for special events or vacations. No mascara mishaps!”

Like any professional beauty service, lash extensions have a downside. “Cons are they require a lot of maintenance, can be expensive, and need regular touch-up appointments,” says Seferoviq, specifically referencing the bi-weekly refills (or every three weeks) you’ll likely need to keep your lashes looking their best. You also want to be sure your lashes are in the hands of a trusted, experienced technician or artist. Ask friends for referrals, read online reviews, and if something feels off at your appointment or pricing is too good to be true, trust your gut. Otherwise, when dealing with non-professionals for lash extensions, you could run the risk of discomfort and infection, says Seferoviq. Proper post-appointment care can also help cut down on any issues, but more to come on that later.

You may wonder what, if any, effect extensions can have on your natural lashes. “The good news is that extensions, when applied properly, won't damage your natural lashes at all,” says Seferoviq. “Natural lashes can typically shed one to five lashes every day, so extensions will shed with your natural hair growth cycle.”

What Should I Expect During My Lash Appointment?

If you’re getting your lashes done for the first time or trying out a new studio or tech/artist, you should expect to spend some time in a full consultation upon arrival. You want to make sure the pro understands your desired look, outcome, and lifestyle so you can select the best lash material, shape, and quantity for your unique bone structure and eye shape as already discussed.

Once you’ve made your choices and understand the studio’s pricing structure, you’ll settle in for your appointment, which—not to psych you out—isn’t exactly going to be quick, but should be painless.

“The process itself should be very relaxing and comfortable,” says Weatherspoon. "Artists make it a priority to have comfortable beds, music, and blankets, as you will lay down the entire time [with your eyes closed]. Definitely come in comfortable clothes if possible. You can also bring headphones to listen to music of your choice, or a podcast, or an audio book.”

Your first appointment will last between an hour and 45 minutes to two hours, says Weatherspoon, depending on your style of extensions and the lash artist’s speed. Allot more time in your schedule than estimated though, as this isn’t a service to rush, and Richardson says the process can take up to three hours in some cases. (Refills are faster, since you won’t have to have full sets reapplied).

As far as prepping goes, Weatherspoon recommends coming with clean lashes and avoiding a low bun or ponytail as your hairstyle, which can be uncomfortable when lying down on your back. If your lashes have any residue on them, your tech may clean and dry them, which can add an extra step and a little bit of time to your appointment but is necessary for proper adhesion.

Regarding the application process itself, Richardson says to expect your bottom lids and lashes to be covered with gentle gel pads, which prevent the top lid from sticking to the bottom as a technician or artist works to apply extensions (note: some salons use tape for this, and both of these methods shield your eyes from the bright light that tech’s work under for precision). Next, “the natural lashes are primed to open the hair follicles,” says Richardson.

“Two tweezers are used—one to isolate [the natural lash], the other for picking up the extensions. Once the one natural lash has been separated from the others, the tech then picks up an extension with the other tweezer and dips the base of it into a medical grade adhesive. The extension is now placed onto the isolated strand.” This process gets repeated until both eyes are done.

How Much Do Lash Extensions Cost?

According to Richardson, the price of lash extensions can run the gamut, as expertise and location can influence the total cost as can your selected lash extension style and fullness. Expect to pay in the neighborhood of $150 to $400 and up, she says. Weatherspoon says bi-weekly lash fills can set you back $90 to $145.

How to Take Care of Lash Extensions

To get the most life out of your lash extensions, you’ll want to follow a few key steps after your appointment (your lash tech will likely go over these guidelines, too, but they’re worth repeating here).

“You need to avoid getting them wet for the first 24 hours,” says Richardson, which usually means avoiding the gym and any other activity where your eyes would come into contact with water for this time period. Then, it’s all about being mindful of your new eye fringe. “Try to sleep on your side, and use a silk pillowcase,” Richardson adds. “Be gentle to them and make sure to clean your eyes with an oil-free makeup remover and gently brush your lashes with a spoolie brush.”

You’ll also want to avoid mascara, says Woodhouse, and the use of any oily products near your lashes. “Do not pick at them or sleep on your face to avoid snagging,” she says. Richardson also seconds that advice: “While wearing extensions, you should not rub your eyes or apply mascara to them. That will cause premature breakage and can damage your natural lashes.”

Though you want to avoid oil-based makeup and cleansers around your eyes, you can care for your lashes with products like lash shampoos and strengthening serums that are formulated specifically for eyelash extensions. Richardson has actually developed her own line that includes the Envious LashesEyelash Protective Coating Sealer, which creates a seal between your lash extensions and natural lashes to preventing oils, debris, and moisture from degrading the extensions’ adhesion, and the Envious Lashes Luxuriating Lash Conditioning Serum, which is a coating you can apply to the base of the lash line to keep both your lashes and extensions hydrated. The stronger your natural lash base, the longer your extensions will last and the better they will look.

How Long Do Lash Extensions Last?

“Lash extensions last for about a month, but if you want to keep them full and fresh, fill-ins every two to three weeks are required,” says Seferoviq. “If you want them taken off, it’s best if a professional removes them or you wait until they all fall off naturally.” Never pull out extensions on your own; this can damage your natural lashes.

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