You Need to Read This Before Trying Eyelash Extensions


Even though I write about beauty for a living, I legit couldn’t be lazier when it comes to my routine. The whole getting ready in the morning thing? Yeah, not really my thing. So when a friend mentioned eyelash extensions to me, I was immediately interested. Something that promises to (A) give me baby deer lashes without having to deal with coats of waterproof mascara and (B) cut down my AM routine? Sign me up.

If you’re into the idea of, IDK, waking up with full, long, dark lashes ever single day, you should definitely look into eyelash extensions. But before you book an appointment, you need to educate yourself on all the aspects of having I-woke-up-like-this, selfie-ready lashes. So keep reading for all the details you seriously need to know before hitting confirm on that appointment.

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What to know before your appointment

What are eyelash extensions?

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Eyelash extensions are semipermanent lashes that are hand-glued on top of your natural lashes, says Andra Marin, artistic director and expert lash stylist at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in NYC. (I promise it’s less intense than it sounds.) Because lash extensions are glued on individually, unlike strip lashes, they’re super customizable and actually look real.

How long do eyelash extensions last?

If you actually take care of them (more on that later), eyelash extensions can last for six to eight weeks until they naturally fall out like your lashes usually do. Once they start falling out, though, you can go back and have your lash stylist fill in the missing pieces. So, technically, you can make your extensions last indefinitely.

Do eyelash extensions ruin your natural lashes?

Not really—there isn’t a ton of evidence that shows whether eyelash extensions actually affect your natural lash length or health long-term. There is, however, a teeny-tiny risk of developing traction alopecia, says Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which is where your natural lashes can fall out as a result of the constant weight of repeated eyelash extensions. But don’t stress—this isn’t common.

“It usually takes years of bad application and improper care for long-term lash damage to happen as a result,” says Marin. So please, only go to legit, well-reviewed salons (no matter how good that Groupon deal is). Oh, and make sure your technician washes their hands between clients, wears a mask, uses sanitary pillow covers, sterilizes their tweezers, and uses disposable eyelash brushes. And don’t feel awkward asking your technician to confirm that all of these precautions are being taken.

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Are eyelash extensions dangerous?

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Eyelash extensions aren’t dangerous if your technician is following the correct methods and using the proper materials. Before you head to your appointment, ask the salon about the ingredients in the lash adhesive they use. If they can’t answer your question, cancel the appointment (you don’t want inexperienced people sticking things to your eyelids), and if they say the glue contains formaldehyde (a known eye irritant that can cause redness, irritation, and itchy, swollen eyelids), def cancel the appointment. It may cost you a little more, but it’s best to choose a salon that uses “glues made with butyl cyanoacrylate and octyl cyanoacrylate instead of formaldehyde—they’re less toxic to the eye area,” says Dr. Al-Mohtaseb.

How much do eyelash extensions cost?

It depends on where you live, but in New York City, a basic set (typically 70 to 80 lashes per eye) can range anywhere from $100 to $400 plus tip, which is usually another 20 percent. And because eyelashes grow and eventually fall out, you have to go back every few weeks for fill-ins, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $165, depending on how many new lashes you need.

PSA: The longer you go between fill-ins, the more lashes you’ll need to replace and the more it will cost you—and if you wait too long, your technician might just want to give you a brand-new set of extensions rather than a fill-in, which obviously won’t be cheap.

What to expect at your appointment

How do you know what size eyelash extensions to get?

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You might want Kardashian-level lashes, but that doesn’t mean your eyes can handle them. “The type of lashes you can get all depends on the length and strength of your natural lashes,” says Marin. “Wearing lashes that are too long or too thick for your lashes can actually cause damage in the long run, so you need to make sure your extensions aren’t too much longer or thicker than your natural lashes.”

If all that sounds confusing, don’t worry—a licensed lash specialist will help you make the best decision for your lashes, including what type of material you should get, like synthetic mink or synthetic silk. Mink is usually pricier, feels softer, and looks more natural; however, some synthetics, which are highly customizable, can also look and feel natural and end up costing as much as or more than mink.

When it comes to density, curl, and length of your extensions, you’ll want to work with your tech to figure out which is the best option for you. “A good lash technician will take your face shape, bone structure, and natural lashes into consideration when helping you decide on a lash look,” says Clementina Richardson, lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes in NYC. In the meantime, prepare to answer these three questions with your specialist:

Can I wear makeup to my eyelash extension appointment?

Nope. You’ll want to show up to your appointment with clean skin and no eye makeup. That means absolutely no eyeshadow, eyeliner, and/or mascara. Anything on your lids or lashes could affect how your extensions turn out, so definitely make sure to wash your face beforehand.

How to care for your lash extentions

Can I shower with my eyelash extensions?

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You can, but not until you’ve waited at least 24 hours after your appointment. “Eyelash adhesives vary in the time they take to cure, from either 12 to 24 hours depending on what glue your stylist uses,” says Marin. It’s super important that you’re gentle with your lashes and make sure that no water touches them during this time, says Richardson. You can shower after getting lashes as long as you don’t get the lashes wet and don’t stay in the steam for too long.

Can you put mascara on eyelash extensions?

Marin doesn’t recommend using mascara with lash extensions. Why? Because when you attempt to take it off at the end of the day, you can actually cause your extensions to break from the friction and makeup remover. As for eyeliner, “avoid using cream-based formulas,” says Richardson. “They often contain oils and waxes that can break down lash glue.”

Can you wash your eyes with eyelash extensions?

Only use cleansers specifically formulated to be safe for eyelash extensions, says Richardson. Other products may contain ingredients that can weaken the bond of your lash extensions and cause them to shed prematurely. And if you’re wearing eye makeup, use oil-free pads and gently swipe downward, rather than back and forth, to get your lids and lashes clean. And whatever you do, avoid rubbing or tugging at your eyes.

Should you brush your lash extensions?

Lashes can get tangled when you’re sleeping or showering, so it’s required that you gently brush your lashes with a clean spoolie brush when you wake up, after you shower, and at the end of the day. And to prevent unnecessary tangling, try to sleep on your back or side (not your stomach) and use a silk pillowcase, which tends to be gentler on extensions, says Richardson.

The final word

Okay, so there’s a lot to think about before you decide to get eyelash extensions. If you feel like mascara isn’t totally cutting it and you’re okay with the extra maintenance and cash that eyelash extensions require, it’s definitely worth finding a specialist and having a consultation, IMO. And hey, there’s no harm in experimenting with a good pair of falsies before you commit to anything.

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