Eyelash extensions are professionally applied individual eyelashes. They are applied by a lash technician, usually in a beauty salon, using special lash adhesives. If you’re not blessed with long and luscious natural eyelashes, they can give you the kind of flutter that you never thought possible. And they’re a great time saver if you spend a lot of time styling your lashes in the morning as you won’t need to curl them or apply mascara / remove it again at night! They’re not to be confused with false eyelashes – a strip of lashes that is applied all in one go.
A set can take from 1.5 hours to 3 hours depending on how dramatic a look you want, on average you’re looking at around 2 hours keeping still in the chair. But you can take a nap if you like as your eyes will be closed the whole time. Expect to pay anywhere between £100 and £250 for a full set, again depending on what you’re going for and the experience of your technician.
Do eyelash extensions ruin your eyelashes?
In essence, no - eyelash extensions don’t damage natural lashes. The adhesive is safe and semi-permanent, and a well-trained lash technician will be experienced in applying the right thickness / weight of extensions so that your own lashes do not suffer any damage or breakage. They will also be able to apply them very precisely, so that the extensions do not stick to neighbouring lashes, with no excess of glue.
However, you do need to do your research before choosing your lash technician. Choose one that comes well-recommended, ideally someone that is ABT accredited. A very low price can be a warning that you’re dealing with someone who is less experienced. You get what you pay for, after all.
Also beware ‘cluster lashes’. These are little bundles of lashes that are applied along your natural lashes. While they are less expensive and much quicker to apply, don’t be tempted. They are quite bulky at the base and require much more adhesive. They often end up being glued across multiple natural lashes, which all grow at different rates, creating tension. This tension can cause your natural lashes to fall out.
After you’ve had your extensions done, you need to take care to protect them, with no getting them wet or lying on them for 24 hours to allow the adhesive to dry fully. After this you’ll need to avoid mascara and oil-based cleaners. Your extensions will usually last around 2-3 weeks after which you will need to book in for infills; your real lashes fall out naturally, which can leave you with gaps in your extensions, so it’s to replace these.
If you change your mind about your extensions, it’s not recommended to try and take them out at home as you risk damaging your lashes. You will need to book an appointment to have them removed at the salon.
There are three main types of lashes:
Classic lashes are the best choice for a more natural look – for example if you want people to just think you were born with gorgeous lashes, rather than keep asking you about your lash extensions! It’s a one-to-one lash application, i.e. one extension per natural lash. A set of classic lashes won’t take as long as a fuller option, but you can still achieve a wide variety of looks depending on the lengths and curls used, and the shaping around the eye.
If you see someone with a very full set of eyelashes, chances are, you are looking at a set of Volume Lashes, also known as Russian Volume. This technique varies from Classic Lashes in that multiple lash extensions are applied to a single natural lash. Individual lash extensions are first formed into fans – a process which requires great precision and skill, and then fans are applied to the natural lashes giving a very full and fluffy look. Russian volume lashes can look very dramatic – a great choice if you want to turn heads! The lashes used are usually thinner and lighter, so that the natural lash is not overloaded with too much weight.
This is where single lashes and fans are combined to create a more textured look – fans create the volume, whereas individual lashes add length and variety in shaping. The Kardashians have popularised a wispy look that has longer lengths at intervals for a spiky yet very feminine effect.
Eyelash extensions come in a number of different shapes, or curls. Some are straighter, some have a very rounded curl, and some have more of a kink that gives a very open-eyed look. If you’ve been getting your lashes done for some time you may have some idea of what kind of curl you would like, but generally your beauty technician will select the optimum types of lashes that will suit both your eye shape and the type of look you want to achieve.