Eyelash Extensions: A Brief A to Z

Mascara is a wonder tool. It can make barely-there lashes appear thick and luxurious. Sadly, mascara does have one flaw: it is only temporary. Enter: eyelash extensions. Without the help of mascara, or “falsies,” extensions can give you full, gorgeous lashes every day.

What Exactly Are Eyelash Extensions? False Eyelashes?

As the name suggests, eyelash extensions function much the same as hair extensions. Small, synthetic hair is attached to existing lashes, extending both the line of the lash, and increasing the overall fullness. The process and type of addition used will vary from salon to salon, but is performed by licensed estheticians, and is an effective means of creating long-lasting full, long lashes.

Eyelash extensions differ from false eyelashes in a few notable ways:

  1. False eyelashes are intended to last a single day or evening.
  2. False lashes are applied with a simple, temporary adhesive, applied directly to the lid.
  3. False eyelashes come in either lid-long strips or clumps of hair, rather than individual strands.

While false eyelashes can be handy, they do not last a significant period of time and, if used regularly, may not prove as economical a choice as extensions.

Can Anyone Get Eyelash Extensions?

Yes! Eyelash additioss can be applied to all hair types and colors—provided, of course, that there is an existing hair to apply the synthetic piece to. That being said, extensions may prove to be an irritation initially for women with sensitive skin and eyes. This irritation typically leaves after only a few days, and should disappear entirely with consistent application.

Eyelash extensions are excellent confidence boosters for women who have undergone chemotherapy treatments and lost hair, or even women whose hair has broken off from extensive mascara use. Because they are considered safe and affordable, many women have chosen this avenue rather than using falsies or spending a lot of money on mascara each month.

What Does the Average Application Look Like?

Before applying, you will receive a consultation. This will help you (and your esthetician) determine the proper length, color, and thickness to fit naturally with your own lashes. After deciding these factors, you will lie back, and the professional will apply the synthetic hair to each individual lash using a special bonding gel that is both safe for and gentle on eyes and hair. Because this is a specialized process, you can expect to spend approximately 2-3 hours for the first application, and 30 minutes for each “filler” or touch up.

Are Extensions Easy to Care For? What Does Care Look Like?

Extensions are not typically difficult to care for; the bonding agent is designed to be quite durable, making extensions feel and look like regular, natural eyes. That being said, synthetically lengthened lashes will require some amendment from the typical eye makeup and cleansing routine. These amendments include:

  • Eyelash Curling. Because the bonding agent is applied in an area frequently crimped by curlers, curling is not recommended for women who have had extensions applied. Ignoring this tip may result in prematurely removing extensions or causing damage to either the extension itself or the bonding agent.
  • Eye cleansers should not be applied for at least 4 hours following application, as this may disrupt the bonding process. From there, you should only employ gentle cleansers, as harsh chemicals may also disrupt the bonding process or damage the synthetic hair.
  • Mascara Application. While many women choose to use waterproof mascara to prevent smudging, this may prove problematic; eyelashes should not be scrubbed excessively, as some waterproof mascara brands require. While mascara is typically not necessary with extensions, if it must be used, stick to water-soluble brands.
  • Eyelash Pulling. Though many men and women pull on lashes to relieve itching or merely as a nervous tick, doing so will likely result in prematurely removing lashes, and necessitate a complete re-application.

How to Remove Extensions

Removal is not a process that should be taken lightly and completed at home. Although it may be tempting to simply rip the eyelash out, or break it off, this could cause damage to the natural hair, or result in an infection of the eye. Instead, return to the esthetician who applied the lashes (or an equivalent), and ask to have them removed. Most salons also provide removal services, with entails soaking the area in a solvent and safely removing the synthetic lashes.

If professional removal is not available and the need for removal is imminent, you can remove all makeup (especially the eye area), and steam your face for a minimum of five minutes. From there, apply olive oil to a cotton ball and gently wipe lashes until the synthetic pieces begin to fall off. Although this is generally considered safe, the best method of removal is removal at the hands of a professional.

The Typical Life Expectancy of Lash Extensions

The life expectancy of lashes directly mirrors the life expectancy of your eyelashes; because eyes shed lashes regularly, extensions should be touched up every 2-3 weeks in order to maintain a full, voluminous appearance. Lash life expectancy can be reduced, however, through irresponsible practices, such as those mentioned above (pulling on lashes, using curlers, etc.). With proper care and a gentle hand, most eyelash applications last 3 weeks before a touch-up is needed.

Are They Really Worth It?

Yes. While it may seem to be a pain to endure an initial application time of 2 hours, plus 30 minutes every 2-3 weeks, the time and expensive frequently evens out (or proves even less expensive and time consuming). Because lashes remove the need for curling and mascara, you are saving both the time it takes to apply mascara, curl lashes, and separate clumps, and the money monthly makeup up-keep requires. For these reasons, and for the fact that extensions look fabulous, they are sure to be worth it.

Before embarking on your first application, research the salon and its professionals; while the process is considered safe, there are some men and women who are not qualified to apply lashes, or do not use the approved materials. Do your due diligence, however, and you can have gorgeous, full lashes worry-free.

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