Eyelash extensions have been getting more and more popular over the years, and these days I can spot those telltale fluttery lashes almost everywhere.
They’re actually individual lashes, made of silk, mink, or synthetic polyester, attached by a technician to your existing lashes with semi-permanent glue. They fall out still attached to your natural lashes during their normal lash growth cycle, which is every 60-90 days.
Lash extensions run $150ish to $250ish initially, depending on where you live and if you get a half set, full set, classic or volume. Fills are a little less, maybe $50ish to $75ish for classic sets. Again, it depends on how much time the tech needs to spend to achieve your desired effect.
Mine lasted a few weeks between fills — I’d say I had 2.5 weeks of awesome-looking lashes followed by 1.5 weeks of decent lashes, and then after that I really needed a fill. Everyone says they last 4-6 weeks, but I’d say 3-4 tops, even with great care.
I decided to try them out myself a few months ago, did a few fills, and now let them fall out naturally to see what happened to my natural lashes. I thought I’d share photos and my experience for those that are curious about trying them out.
There are 3 types of lashes the technician can use: synthetic, silk, and mink.
Synthetic ones are the most affordable but the heaviest. Real mink ones are the lightest and flutteriest (Beyoncé gets those). My tech called mine “synthetic mink.”
They range in lengths from 6mm to 17mm.
I asked for 15mm.
They come in a variety of curls: J-curl for a more natural look, C-curl for more drama.
Your tech can use a variety of curls and lengths to create a customized look if you ask them. I wanted longer on the edges, since that’s what I prefer with my strip lashes too. Mine were J-curls.
You can either get a classic set or a volume set at most places.
Classic sets are where they attach one individual lash to each of your natural lashes, and volume is where they attach multiple (2 or 3) extensions per natural lash. Volume takes a lot longer and costs more. I had a classic full set and was pretty happy with the results.
There’s different kinds of semi-permanent lash glues.
I didn’t have an allergic reaction where my lids puffed up or anything, but my first application actually kind of burned from the fumes. My fills didn’t burn — I think my tech used a different glue for the fills. Make sure you discuss the glues with your tech beforehand.
Here is my before and after photo at my first lash extension appointment:
I'm not wearing any makeup in this before and after, so please excuse my pores. You can see that my tech replicated my natural lash shape with the longer extensions on the ends. My lash extensions were a lot longer (15mm) and thicker (synthetic mink) than my natural lashes but pretty similarly curled (J-curl), so the effect was just enough glam for me while still possibly passing for amazing natural lashes.
You can spend an hour or two laying in a comfy couch-chair, kid-free, and possibly even fall asleep if your tech doesn’t make small talk the whole time.
You can listen to a whole lot of juicy smack from all the other techs and customers in the salon, haha.
You have to get a babysitter.
It takes a couple hours for the first application and at least an hour for a fill, depending on your technician and how fast they work. This means keeping your eyes shut and sitting still for hours, possibly.
You will likely need to pee mid-session, even if you peed beforehand. Try not to load up on liquids before the appointment. Some techs give you a break, and some don’t so you need to ask.
Your eyes might burn a little but aren’t supposed to if they use the right glue. Some type of glue made my eyes burn a lot during the initial application and then turned them red for a while afterwards. I told my tech, and she used a different type of glue during the fills that didn’t cause much discomfort, if at all.
Some techs like to talk a lot. As an introvert and a stay-at-home mom to my beautiful/amazing child that I love more than anything but is attached to me 99% of the time, I just want to lay there for a bit with my own thoughts. This is me time, and I get very little of that. Plus, the tech is literally in your face, so that’s another reason I don’t want to talk that much, if you know what I mean.
Beauty is pain, people.
You look pretty good when you wake up. Like, do-a-double-take-in-the-mirror kind of good. I could actually go outside without a drop of makeup and feel pretty sassy.
You can do your makeup a lot faster. I basically didn’t wear any eyeliner, which was pretty shocking for me; I’ve felt the need to do a cateye almost every day for the past few years to compensate for my lack of lashes. Definitely didn’t need any mascara and obviously no strip lashes. I started wearing eyeliner only when I really needed a fill.
Since you don’t really need eyeliner or mascara or strip lashes, you’re kinda saving money. Well, not actually saving but redirecting that makeup money towards lash extensions.
You need to take care of and maintain the lashes at home too. No oil-based heavy duty makeup removers or cleansers. No steam rooms or facials or massages, preferably. Lay on your back (or side, if you’re careful) while you sleep. Brush your lashes with the brush they give you a few times a day as they kind of get wonky throughout the day. Try not to shower with the stream going directly on your lashes.
You find little extensions in your bed and around your bathroom sink and in your mop as they inevitably fall out.
Your natural lashes can get a little stubbier, so it’s good to take breaks if you can. If your lash person isn’t trained properly or is running low on time between appointments (absolutely come to your appointment on time), they might try to skip steps and do it improperly. That happened to my sister and cousin in another state with disastrous outcome.
These are my natural lashes after having extensions for about 3 months:
If you look at the before photo pre-lash extensions (scroll up), you'll see that I had longer lashes on the outer edges than today. Right now they feel a little shorter, but they're not sparse or anything. They would just need a little time to grow back to their full potential, and I think that's because my tech did a great job at placing them properly. PLUS I stopped using Neulash entirely while I had the extensions as well as lash primers pre-mascara, which are also supposed to condition your lashes. So overall, I don't think my after photo is that bad.
I’m thinking that taking a break once in a while can help you make sure your tech has been applying them properly and that your lashes are doing ok underneath it all. It’s probably the same amount of damage potential as permanent hair extensions (don’t have any experience to share with those, though).
Despite all the maintenance, eyelash extensions are amazing. They’re not for everyone, but as a mom who loves to be glamorous as well as a social media person that essentially takes photos and videos for a living, they are so nice to have. I loved the few minutes it shaved off my daily routine so I could focus more time elsewhere. Every minute somehow counts as a mom.
If you think about the money investment, you’re basically redirecting money you’d be using on some of your eye makeup towards the service. It’s still a little pricier than the makeup, unless you’re into Tom Ford liquid eyeliner ($56, my fave ever), Chanel lash primer ($32) and Chantecaille mascara ($72).
If we’re talking about the time investment, again you’re exchanging some of the time you save getting ready in the morning for your appointment time.
Overall, I am a lash extension addict now.
I hope I could give some real insight into my lash extensions experience. Let me know how you liked yours and what size/curl/type you got in the comments below!
I’d also really appreciate if you’d share this info on Pinterest and Facebook, babes!