Lash Extensions: Are They Right for You?

In This Article:

Eyelash extensions can be a beautiful, albeit expensive, way to enhance your natural eyelashes. The success of Latisse (the prescription topical medication that grows lashes) and cosmetic products claiming they can do the same as Latisse has put the focus on longer, darker lashes as a hot beauty trend. And really, who doesn't want long eye-defining lashes, no matter what the trend is?

You can forget cosmetic products claiming to grow lashes because they don’t work, and while there are great mascaras, they rarely if ever perform like the ads say they will. You can try Latisse or RapidLash (among others), but these won't make a dramatic difference for everyone, and the lash growth products that truly work carry the risk of side effects. The other option is eyelash extensions. It got our attention, and we think you’ll find our experiences and fact-filled information intriguing.
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What are Lash Extensions?

Lash extensions are individually applied synthetic fibers attached to the base of each eyelash with surgical glue. Each fake lash is applied one by one (it is a painstaking process) to your own eyelashes. If you are careful in your daily handling of the eye area and have touchups every two to three weeks (think about it the same way you do about touchup visits for artificial nails or dyeing your hair), your lash extensions can last a long time. How often you need a “fill” depends on your own natural eyelash growth cycle and on how well you take care of your lashes.

Before You Book Your Lash Extension Appointment

If you decide to give this a try, you need to know these essential tips to ensure your experience goes as smoothly as possible:

Research your lash professional.

An experienced lash esthetician (that's their title) should be professionally certified (meaning trained) in an established method (Lavish Lashes, NovaLash, and Xtreme Lashes are popular examples). Be sure to see the certificate and be sure their training is current—believe us, you want to do this! Don't be embarrassed to ask about credentials; a reputable lash esthetician will be proud to show you!

Choose your look wisely.

Just the way you choose a hairstyle by looking at pictures, it helps a great deal if the person you want to apply your lash extensions has a portfolio of their work so you can see the various options—how the different lengths and thicknesses of various lash extensions look. There is a fine line between gorgeous, fluttery lashes and spidery, too obviously fake-looking lashes.

Potential risks?

Because lash extensions are applied using surgical glue it is essential to keep it out of your eyes, which is another reason a skilled aesthetician is so very important. The most common complaints about lash extensions are allergic reactions to the glue, eye infections from contact with unsanitary tools, or an infected follicle from two lashes being glued together, and/or from the glue itself clogging a hair follicle.

Understand the process.

Applying a full set of new lashes can take anywhere from 90 to 180 minutes. Depending on the look you want to achieve, anywhere from 60–120 individual lashes will be applied to each eye. To prepare the eye area for extensions, your esthetician may tape your lower lashes down to your skin, and place hydrating eye pads on top. If that sounds uncomfortable, well, it can be—at least at first, but it helps prevent the lower lashes from getting accidently glued to your upper lashes.

Then, with your eyes closed, your lash professional uses tweezers to meticulously go through and separate your lashes to find the best lashes for extensions to adhere to—too short, and the lash isn't strong enough to support the extension; too long, and the lash extension will have a shortened life span.

Pros & Cons of Lash Extensions

As with any beauty treatment, there are pros and cons to consider before deciding if it is right for you. With lash extensions, the positives and negatives are almost equally weighted, though you will rarely hear the downside in a salon that provides lash extension services! Here's what you need to know to make an informed decision:

The Pros:

They look fabulous.

More dramatic than mascara, yet far more natural than a strip of fake eyelashes, lash extensions are simply stunning when done right. See the before and after photos of our team member below for proof!

They're instantly gratifying.

Lash extensions deliver the gorgeous lashes you want with one appointment, and you won't have to bother applying and removing mascara every day.

They can save you time.

There is an initial time commitment of getting eyelash extensions applied, but we found that they look best with minimal makeup, so you'll need less time to get ready in the morning, and have less wear and tear on your eyes from applying and removing makeup.

They can last for months and beyond!

Typically, lash extensions stay looking good for 2 to 3 weeks, but beyond that they will look less and less full. However, with regular refills, your overall lash extensions will last indefinitely.

The Cons:

They're expensive.

Expect to spend anywhere from $150 to $500 for your first full set of lashes. From there, refills (typically needed every 2–4 weeks) cost $50–$100 per visit. That's anywhere from $1000 to $2500 per year on lashes—Yikes!

They're high maintenance.

You must plan to go in for hour-long refills every 2–4 weeks, which can be a big commitment if you travel frequently or have a busy schedule. Your lashes also need extra attention to stay gorgeous between fills. You must avoid oil-based cleansers and makeup removers, and avoid using mascara regularly because applying and removing mascara can snag the extensions and cause them to fall out prematurely. Most women love how their extensions look and simply forgo mascara.

You also must be careful when washing your face, avoid allowing water from the shower to beat directly on your eyes, and take care not to rub your face with a towel or press your face too hard into the pillow when you sleep. (Tip: Switching to a firmer pillow or sleeping on your back helps.) Obviously, the less you rub your eyes or tug on your lashes, the better!

They limit your makeup options.

Not only must you avoid oil-based skin-care products as mentioned above, you also must avoid oil-based mascara and eyeliner. This means you must check the labels and be very careful when applying eye makeup, especially near the lash line. The more makeup you apply, the more you'll have to remove, which means rubbing more over or near your eyelashes, and that means lashes will fall off.

They're hard to quit.

Once you have lash extensions, it's difficult to phase them out of your life. Not only because you'll miss the lush lash line you've grown used to, but also because, not unlike growing out a bad haircut, the in-between stage doesn't look the best.

Essentially, there are two options when you want to stop: You can either let them fall out on their own (which can take two months or more) or you can pay to have them removed by your aesthetician (about $50).

 

Our Final Assessment

They can be worth the money, but they're definitely not for everyone.

Lash Extensions Table

While we feel lash extensions are worth a splurge and will likely look spectacular on just about anyone, they're not necessarily suited for everyone's lifestyle. They're a fun indulgence for brides or for those looking to stay effortlessly gorgeous during a vacation, but the extra care you have to take from day to day can be a deal-breaker. In addition, if you wear glasses you may find the glamorous effect is lost behind your lenses. If you choose to try this relatively low-risk (but pricey) beauty treatment, understand that once you've seen the results, it's hard to go back to lashes au natural!

(Sources: Cornea, February 2012, pages 151–125; Critical Reviews in Toxicology, September 2011, 672–721; http://www.license.state.tx.us/cosmet/cosmet.htm)

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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