The Questions on Lash Extensions You’ve Been Looking For
The beauty industry has seen it all when it comes to lashes—magnifying mascaras, “miracle” growth serums, heated curlers—you name it. But no trend is quite as polarizing as lash extensions. When extensions first hit the mainstream market, it seemed like a relatively painless way to achieve wispy, fluttering lashes without the inconvenience of falsies or mascara.
But as with any new beauty service, lash extensions quickly revealed their drawbacks. For starters, some states haven’t placed regulations on the service, consequently leading to cases of irritation, infection, and damaged natural lashes due to poor hygiene and technique. The process is also fairly expensive, setting you back hundreds of dollars and hours of your personal time. But is it worth it to wake up with a flawless set of semi-permanent lashes every day?
First & Foremost: What Are Lash Extensions?
Eyelash extensions are semi-permanent fibers that are attached to your natural eyelashes in order to make your lash fringe look longer, fuller, and darker. Individual lash extensions are applied to each of your individual natural eyelashes (one extension per natural eyelash) using a semi-permanent glue. The material varies from studio to studio, but lash extensions can be made of synthetic, mink, faux mink, or silk fibers. Most locations that offer extensions have a variety of extension lengths, curl patterns, and tints so clients can customize their look.
What’s the Application Process Like?
Lash extensions are carefully applied one at a time (typically 80-140 per eye) using a specially formulated, semi-permanent glue that will not irritate or damage the natural lash. The lash is only applied to an existing lash, not to the skin. While the exact process varies from salon to salon, here’s what you can expect:
Evaluation: Prior to application, the technician should go through all the risks and benefits of having eyelash extensions before applying them, and also ask about any conditions you may have that would make eyelash extensions unsuitable for you.
Decide on Extension Length and Curl Strength: Your lash artist should start the process by asking you what kind of look you’re going for, whether that be more glamorous or more natural. Based on your desired look, you’ll choose an ideal length and curl strength for the extensions. Keep in mind that your artist may decide to use up to 3-4 different extension lengths, concentrating longer extensions on the outer corners and shorter extensions on the inner eyes.
Cleansing the Eye Area: Your lash artist will have you lay down and ensure that you are in a comfortable position. Then, they will cleanse the area to remove any makeup, oil, and germs from the area. It’s helpful to your artist if you arrive makeup-free to your appointment.
Applying the Tape and Eye Gels: Your eyes are closed for the duration of the process, which typically takes 1-2 hours, depending on the number of extensions you’re lash artist is applying. To prep for the actual application, your lash artist will apply an under-eye gel to your lower lash line to keep your lower lashes out of the way and provide a contrasting background to work against (it’s easier to see your lashes against a crisp white background). Then, the eye gels will be secured with medical-grade tape on both sides of the eye (this tape doesn’t touch your lashes, and it doesn’t hurt once it’s removed later).
Application: Using tweezers, your lash artist will dip the end of each extension in the lash glue and then apply it to your individual lash. In most cases, one eyelash extension is applied per natural lash, however, more voluminous looks can require multiple extensions per individual natural lash. The application isn’t painful, although you may feel anxious having tweezers operate so close to your eyes while they’re closed.
Drying: The lash glue dries very quickly, but your lash artist will likely have you sit for around 10 minutes once all of the extensions have been applied. Some lash artists like to point a small, handheld fan at your extensions to speed up the drying time, while others prefer to let the glue air dry. During this stage, your eyes are still closed.
Removing the Tape and Gels: Once your lashes are completely dry, your lash artist will remove the under-eye gels and tape (this doesn’t hurt at all, but let your lash professional know if you tend to experience sensitivity in this area so they can practice extra precaution). Once removed, your lash artist will likely brush through the lashes with a spooly, then you’ll be asked to slowly blink your eyes open. Et voila!
Will Your Natural Eyelashes Grow Back After Extensions?
This is where things get a bit hairy. Lash extensions alone will not ruin your lashes. Damage to the natural lashes is the result of improper application, or the stylist not selecting the correct type of lash for an existing natural lash. There are a few main factors that contribute to this problem:
- Applying extensions that are too heavy for the natural lash will result in premature shedding.
- Rubbing your eyes will also result in immediate breakage.
That’s why visiting a properly licensed esthetician is crucial when it comes to lash extensions. But with that being said, you can do everything right and still find that eyelash extensions cause breakage to your natural eyelashes. There are factors that you have no control over (like if you rub your eyes in your sleep or if you genetically have a faster lash cycle than what is considered normal) that can compromise your natural lashes—including causing your natural lashes to fall out or break off.
Keep in mind though, eyelashes are hair—and unless you have a pre-existing condition or circumstance, hair grows back. Which means your eyelashes will grow back. While damage to your natural eyelashes is certainly not ideal (nor is it sustainable over time), any breakage or fallout should resolve itself in 1-3 months, as part of a typical lash growth cycle—more on that below.
How Long Do They Last?
As with the hair on your head, eyelashes follow a natural cycle of shedding and regrowth. All of your lashes are at a different stage at any point in time, which means that some of your lashes are getting ready to fall out while others are experiencing a period growth (this is true if you have eyelash extensions or not).
Since an individual extension is applied to an individual lash, that extension will fall out on its own when the eyelash sheds from the lash line. If you aren’t exacerbating this shedding process by rubbing your eyes, applying mascara, or compromising the glue with oily eye products, your lash extensions should last up to a month before you need a “refill” appointment.
Unless you’re transitioning off of extensions, refills are necessary every 2-4 weeks to maintain the best result. Since each of your individual lashes is at a different stage in the growth cycle, you’ll start to see a more scattered appearance after 2-4 weeks as new natural lashes come in and lashes that had an extension attached begin to fall out.
While it varies from provider to provider (and the city that you’re in), a full set of lash extensions will set you back anywhere from $100-300, with refills costing around $50-150. If your lash artist is charging you less than $100 for your initial set, you should be skeptical of the quality of extension fibers and glue being used. Perform thorough research of the salon, as well as the esthetician performing the service.
Lash extensions work, plain and simple!
They can enhance almost anyone’s eyelashes, which means you’ll wake up with fuller, longer, darker lashes—but not without paying the price. Extensions are expensive, and even if you do everything you’re supposed to when it comes to aftercare, it’s still very possible that you’ll experience some damage to your natural lashes, including breakage and fallout.
Now, eyelashes are hair after all, and in most cases will grow back within a few weeks. If you’re planning to get eyelash extensions, have them applied by a licensed esthetician to avoid these side effects! At Botanica, our lash specialists are just that, with over ten years of experience and a clientele that keeps coming back! Call today to book your appointment with Clearwater & Tampa Bay’s best at 727-441-1711.