Eyelash extensions are the perfect example of what I’m talking about when I say that ‘high maintenance is the surest path to being low maintenance’.
I mean, spending an hour and a half to get semi-permanent eyelashes glued onto your own for $250 +, then getting fills every 5 weeks or so for another $60 seems a little high maintenance, right?
But consider how low maintenance you will be when you’re getting ready for work or going out and even getting ready for bed? It’s crazy how happy life can be without mascara!
Here’s everything you need to know about eyelash extensions. I wish there was as in depth an article available when I was making the decision.
(click here to go straight to the video)
Step 1: Choose Your Lash Style
There are different sizes and colors, as there there are with most things, but there are other options to consider when choosing your eyelash extensions. The material and how they are bunched together for starters.
First, you’ve gotta choose the bunching. It doesn’t matter what material your lashes are, if the bunching doesn’t align with your ideal, you are never going to be happy with your new look.
There are clustered, strips and individual lashes.
CLUSTERED LASHES –
Clustered are when several lashes come clustered together at the base, and are applied to one of your natural lashes. BAD. They look fake – and not usually in a good way.
They come knotted or knot free. Above are knotted, these are knot free:
Regardless, they’re heavy and have a bigger chance of damaging your eyelashes. And you won’t know what ‘damaging your eyelashes’ really means until you’re running around town without any.
It’s a sad and sorry state of affairs and, after living it first hand, thanks to my letting a Groupon sway my decision, I’m pretty rock solid when I say that you will not enjoy that little adventure.
Hell to the no on cluster lashes. They look clumpy and you risk ruining your lashes. Better to just use mascara.
Look: Super Glam
Price Level: $$
STRIP LASHES –
Strip lashes are strips of lashes that apply all at once. Picture a drag queen or a Kardashian. Maybe that’s your look, but if it’s not, you may wanna save the strip lashes for more temporary use.
See what I mean?
Strip eyelash extensions have their place though. They may be ideal for you if:
- You want that glam look 24/7
- You can’t keep your fingers away from your lashes or have a habit of tugging them out
- Individual or clustered lashes don’t fit into your budget
- The idea of laying still for 2 hours while your lashes are applied ONE BY ONE makes you batty
- You’re thinking short term and don’t mind eventual bald spots in your lash line 😉
Strip lashes actually attach partially to the skin on the upper lid just above your lash line and are harder to pull out. Having said that, and I cannot stress this enough, NEVER try removing semi-permanent strip lashes yourself, or you can plan on taking some skin off with them.
You should also know that, every time you have strip lashes removed, they take a few more lashes which eventually causes bald spots.
Strip lashes are the least expensive lash extensions you can get, ranging from $60 to $125 (that’s highway robbery) depending on the material and where you go. You may find groupons for like $40 or something, but be strong and don’t partake.
They don’t last as long, and even if there wasn’t such a high probability of losing lashes, they don’t look so hot when, after a couple weeks the glue starts coming off at the edges. Not a good look.
Look: Super Glam, Costumey and Obvious
Price Level: $
Individual eyelashes are applied lash for lash. They cost a bit more, they take a little longer to put on, but, if done right, they look completely natural and are less likely to damage your real eyelashes.
Also, it’s super easy to control the look of individual lashes. You can choose thick and lush, or sparse and sporadic. Maybe you just want some lift on the outer edges, or depending on the shape of your eyes, want longer lashes in the middle to open them up.
Individual lashes start at about $200 for a full set, but can run up to $600 or so depending on the material. Fills, that replace lost lashes that cycle through with our regular lash loss, runs at $60.
A regular lash cycle can last more than 100 days, but you’ll find that you need to fill them in about every 6 weeks max to keep the look.
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner! These are the most natural lashes that are the least likely to get all crazy or pull out your lashes, damage your lashes, or make your life difficult in general. (Disclaimer: But ONLY if you treat them right – more to come on that below)
Price Level: $$$
Next you have to choose the material of your eyelash extensions.
Step 2: Choose Your Eyelash Material
You can choose between synthetic, silk, faux mink or mink hair. The main difference is how natural they look and how long they last.
Synthetic lashes are the most dramatic of lashes. Made from an acrylic material, they are firmer than the others and, depending on the length and curl you choose, can look total glam, or just like your natural lashes with 10 coats of mascara.
Synthetic are on the thick end of the spectrum at 0.20mm in thickness. Keep in mind that thicker means heavier. You will feel like you’re wearing false lashes and they won’t stay attached as long as other materials.
These are best for girls with thick lashes to begin with, others risk lash loss.
Look: Super Glam to Glam with a curl
Price Level: $
Silk are the middle of the road. They’re finer than the synthetic, but thicker and firmer than the mink or faux mink. They last longer than the synthetic and not as long as the mink or faux mink.
Depending on the thickness, length, quantity, curl and technician applying them, these can look more natural than the synthetic, but not as natural as mink or even faux mink.
Silk lashes range from 0.15mm to 0.20mm in thickness.
Look: Glam to Natural with a curl
Price Level: $$
FAUX MINK LASHES
These are generally thinner than silk lashes and tend to last longer as well. These are great if your natural lashes are fine and weak. And they feel natural, like your natural lashes.
They are silky and fluffy like mink. I personally like them better than mink since they hold a curl and mink have a tendency to lie straight. They last longer than silk but not as long as the mink.
Faux mink lashes generally range from 0.6mm to 0.12mm thick.
Look: Natural with a curl
Price Level: $$$
Mink lashes are the most natural of the bunch, but that doesn’t make them better. They come from the mink tail of the Chinese or Siberian Mink (Siberian is considered the best).
Minks don’t keep their curl like the other lashes. And you can’t use a lash curler on eyelash extensions so expect to have a few squirrely ones poking you in the eye sometimes. I say, why not save some cash with the faux mink that will keep their beautiful curl and, as a happy aside, save a damn mink?
Mink are the thinnest at 0.10mm to 0.15mm.
Look: Natural but straighter after time
Price Level: $$$$
Step 3: Choose Your Lash Color
So many choices! When you think of lash extensions you think of Black right? Well, if you’re going for more natural look you may want to make sure that your lash bar gets them in Dark Brown. I like to use a mix for a more natural look.
They basically come in every color on the rainbow. Shoot, I’ve even seen glitter!
Most studios only stock the black ones, so make sure you call ahead to check if they have your color.
Step 4: Choose the Thickness and Length
In the case of lashes, size does matter. Lashes range from .07mm to 0.25mm in thickness and 6mm to 16mm for length. I generally use a mix of 0.10mm to 0.12mm thick and 12mm to 15mm long.
They are long enough to be noticed behind glasses, but without hitting them.
Fun fact: Healthy lashes tend to grow to 10mm long, so, unless you just want to make them thicker, you may want to consider this when choosing your lashes
Step 5: About Adhesives
This is not a lash application tutorial, but we have to address adhesives. It’s important. It matters!
There are several types of adhesives that can be used when getting eyelash extensions, but there are really only two things you need to know..
One, adhesive comes in Clear and in Black. Clear looks more natural and blends in better, especially for lashes that aren’t black. Black can also can tend to look a little bulky like clumpy mascara. You may want to ask about this before committing to an eyelash technician.
Two, if you have sensitive eyes in general, or tend to have allergies occasionally, you may want to opt for the sensitive glue. It’s true, it doesn’t hold as long, but you really don’t want to risk this unhappiness, right?
Regardless of the type you choose, if it’s your first time, always do a patch test. The best spot is on the inner crook of your arm, where it bends. The skin there is closest to the skin on your eyelid.
You should wait a couple hours for a reaction.If that’s not an option (no time, etc), make sure to at least have your technician put a teeny on the outer corner of your eyelid to make sure you don’t get a reaction.
Hear me girls! I’ve had a reaction before. It felt like little red ants having a party on my eyeballs. I couldn’t stop rubbing them and I ended up lash bald for a while. No fun.
Don’t be a dummy. If you’re having a tough allergy season, not a good time to get lash extensions. Your lash happiness may be short lived, if at all.
Step 5: Go Get Yo Lashes!!
You may find an eyelash extension studio on every corner – even in your nail salon. That doesn’t mean that just anyone should be trusted to do it. Only let a Certified Eyelash Extension Specialist get near your peepers and make sure you check references and reviews!
How it Goes Down
Check out my video on how it went down. I’ll break it down below that.
Wear something comfortable, the last thing you want is to be laying there with a wedgie for 2 hours.
First, your lash technician will lay gel sticky pads over your lower lashes. Wouldn’t want to glue your eyelashes together! If your girl whips out the scotch tape you may wanna about face out of that lash bar. It’s uncomfortable for starters, and you may have an allergy to scotch tape that you never knew about.
Then, if you’re getting a fill (maintaining already applied lash extensions), which I was, she will separate your lashes, removing the ones that are out of line, turned around or growing out.
Finally, she will painstakingly apply each lash, one at a time if you’re getting individual lashes, and as bunches if you’re getting the clustered ones. If you’re getting the strip lashes, it will be glued to the skin just above your lashes (the glue will travel though).
Some lash studios also offer bottom lashes. In this case the gel pad will be applied to the upper lash as well as to the skin under the lower lash. I’ve seen some done without the top gel pad, but I’ll tell ya, it ain’t easy keeping your eye opened for that!
Bottom lashes run anywhere from $40 to $60 and only 15 or so lashes are applied.
Eyelash Extensions Tips
When it comes to eyelash extensions, I’ve learned things the hard way. I’ve had allergies, bad clumpy nasty lashes, I’ve lost my lashes and had to grow them out again – yet here I am telling you how I’m still using them.
That’s because I’ve got a handle on it now. I know what to do and what not to do. Follow these tips and you’ll be golden!
Get your questions answered before you go all gung ho into the lashes or you may find yourself being persuaded to use lashes that don’t suit your needs.
1. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES. Don’t mess with those happy hairs! I used to have a habit of trying to get the extra glue off as they grew out. Buhbye lashes! Just learn to keep your hands away from your eyes.
2. Try not to get makeup remover on your eyelashes. If you must use it, then get the Neutrogena Oil-Free Makeup Remover and use a q-tip.
If you use a cotton ball or pad there’s a good chance it will grab a lash and pull it out, in which you’re 1 down with 89 to go and it doesn’t take long!
3. Do a patch test. Period.
4. I don’t recommend it because it’s kind of defeating the purpose AND it toys with the staying power of your lashes, but, if you must use mascara, opt for water-based ones.
There are a few around but know that it is going to end up all around your eyes, if you don’t constantly wipe it off. When I stay away from mascara my lashes last longer.
5. Don’t get water on your lashes for the first 24 hours. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t recommend putting your face in front of a shower stream with these. I use a more gentle approach when washing my face. I feel like they last longer that way.
6. Hands DOWN. Worth saying twice. DO NOT TOUCH your lashes.
7. No heavy eye creams in the vicinity of those lashes ladies. They will get slippery and fall off faster.
8. Opt for Faux Mink or a combo of Faux Mink and Silk with only sporadic Mink lashes. This looks most natural yet holds a curl and lasts the longest. The Mink will fall out first but they add a nice natural look. No one has perfectly curled lashes after all.
9. Don’t sleep on your face. I mean, seriously.