If you’ve spent any amount of time on Instagram, you will have most likely seen “before and after” shots of women who have just gotten eyelash extensions. If you’re as easily influenced as I am, then you’ll know that seeing those pictures is enough to make you want to call your local salon and book an appointment. Long, dark lashes everyday.. without putting on makeup?
It’s definitely tempting.
But before you pick up the phone, there are some things to consider about getting eyelash extensions – the pros and cons of eyelash extensions, if you will – from someone whose life literally revolves around lashes, and who received lash extensions semi-monthly for over a year.
What are Eyelash Extensions?
A quick note: False eyelashes and eyelash ‘extensions’ are not the same. Falsies are very temporary–used for 1 day–while lash extensions are semi-permnanent, lasting “up to 12 weeks”.
Eyelash extensions are literally little fake individual eyelashes that are glued one by one to your natural lashes at the base, by an aesthetician. The extensions “grow out” with your natural lashes, and fall off when the lash does. Lash extensions semi-permanently enhance the length, thickness and fullness of natural eyelashes. Quite the bang for your buck.
There’s three types of eyelash extensions you can choose from: synthetic, silk and mink. Size availability ranges from 6mm to 17mm. The cost of this service can range anywhere between $100 to $500, depending on the type and number of lashes applied, and the entire process usually takes an hour to two hours. Eyelash extensions normally last around 3–4 weeks, at which time they begin thinning and falling out (Source).
Enough of the nitty gritty, and onto the juicy parts:
Lash Extensions: The Good
They look ahhhmazing.
The pros of eyelash extensions: You get all the drama of false lashes, without the artificial look or visible lash band. Not to mention – you wake up looking fabulous every day, without working for it. Mascara? Eh.. forget it. You don’t need it now, super woman.
Eyelash extensions are pretty much your natural lashes on steroids.
Lash extensions are the definition of instant gratification. It can take weeks or months to see results from your best lash-growing efforts, vitamins or eyelash serum, but with eyelash extensions you get longer, thicker lashes within hours. All while you were laying there in a spa with your eyes shut. That’s what I call heaven.
Lash Extensions: The Bad
Now onto the cons of lash extensions: With great lashes comes great responsibility, and oh, honey are these a responsibility.
“Low maintenance” and “eyelash extensions” are two phrases you will never hear used together (except maybe by the aesthetician while she’s trying to sell you on the service).
You have to go and have them filled every 2-4 weeks otherwise they will shed prematurely and you will be walking around looking like a hot mess. This can be time consuming, as each session can take up to two hours. Not to mention the cost of each procedure can add up quickly. You also can’t use ANY oil based cleansers or products that would touch your lashes (incuding WINK and SHINE), so there could be an additional cost to purchase new facial cleansers and makeup removers. Say goodbye to your double cleansing routine! (Paula’s Choice).
The bad – no, for me the WORST – part of lash extensions was this:
Who can stand that?!?! Spider leg lashes are the WORST.
The extensions fall out with your natural lashes, which fall out over the course of a lash cycle (8-12 weeks). So you’re losing extensions along the way to your fill. This means the only time you’re going to look THAT fabulous – like the first b&a photo – is when you walk out of the spa. That’s it. Then you’ll be biting your nails and picking at your lashes until your next chance to feel good, 4-6 weeks later and $100 lighter.
If that picture and little rant didn’t do it for you, here’s more: you have to wait 12-24 hours before showering after getting eyelash extensions. And when you do, you need to be careful, as getting any water directly onto your lashes can weaken the adhesive and cause them to fall out prematurely. After taking a shower, be sure to lightly blow dry your extensions as they naturally arrange themselves into a crisscross formation when wet and can resemble spider legs. (Harper’s Bazaar).
Have you ever blow dried your eyes?
I’m sorry, I just had to stop at that one. If you are blow drying your eyes, you may want to rethink your life priorities. Just saying.
Lash Extensions: The Ugly
Did I say cons? Here are the super cons of lash extensions: Those with sensitive eyes can have an allergic reaction to the adhesive used when applying eyelash extensions. Particularly those formulas that contain formaldehyde. Yes, that formaldehyde is the same formaldehyde that you may remember from biology class, as it was used to preserve the dead animal you dissected.
Back in 2012 Kristin Chenoweth appeared on The Late Show with David Lettermen and explained how she got “eyelid lips” after an allergic reaction to the glue used during an eyelash extension procedure (source).
If you experience any burning or discomfort while getting eyelash extensions, you should speak up! The procedure itself is supposed to be painless, so this could be a sign that there is something in the glue that is causing an allergic reaction.
Why did you do this to me, Megan?!
Because I went through the emotional, cash-zapping cycle of lash extensions myself. It’s what inspired me to create WINK in the first place.
I had heard of lash extensions before, and started to notice more celebrities wearing them in lieu of lash strips. I waited until I found a Groupon for a $150 full set, and I went for it.
The place was out in Everett – a good hour bus ride away from MIT. Not a problem, this was just a trial. The appointment lasted about 2 hours and I was terrified the whole time of getting glue in my eyes. She picked and pulled at my lashes as she applied extensions: I was one of her first clients.
I wasn’t “wowed” by my extensions at first; they were a little wonky. I kind of wanted to cry when I first saw them, but that would dissolve the glue. This took a long time and time is the most valuable resource you have at MIT, so I hopped on the bus and went back to school.
The aesthetician had told me no mascara unless I bought their special mascara made by the lash extension company (which sounded like a bunch of BS to me), so I passed on it until I could find a good formula for lash extensions. So I was stuck with these weird, wonky lashes.
My friends didn’t say a word when I got back, which I knew was bad. That’s a “no”. Lashes were criss-crossing everywhere and it wasn’t pretty. I brushed them into place. They were fine, not great – just whatever. But they looked so good on celebrities! I knew I couldn’t give up yet.
Like a gel manicure, lash extensions are something that you can’t remove by yourself very easily. Unlike a manicure, you can’t “go without” when your budget doesn’t allow. You are now a slave to your lash extensions.
I went back in 4 weeks. No problem. She fixed them up. Another $80 and 4 hours. A little better this time, but still kind of wonky.
The more time and money I spent on my lash extensions at the spa, the more time and money I spent on them outside of the spa. I brushed and rearranged them. I constantly felt them and “lifted” them with my finger (no lash curling with extensions!) When I felt the bottom of one starting to come loose from my natural lash, I peeled it off. The only problem was, you can’t just peel a lash extension off. If it starts to come loose, you basically have to live with this weird hard fake lash poking out/poking your lid or eye, or you have to pull out the lash altogether. Most often, while trying to separate the false lash from the real one, I did the latter.
It’s no wonder my lashes were in such poor shape when I started creating WINK! I was so OCD about my extensions that I couldn’t help put force myself into short, crappy lashes.
Soon, I started getting fills every 2 weeks. $80 every other week is a lot for a college student. The 4 hour trip every other week was GPA death for an MIT student.
On my final trip, my aesthetician told me that I needed to “take a break”. She said that she couldn’t even attach extensions to my natural lashes because they were so short now.
“Why?” I asked.
“Because the extensions have been weighing down your natural lashes,” she said.
“But they’ll go back to normal soon! No worries!” she chirped.
My semi-monthly lash habit had forced my natural lashes to become even shorter and more sparse than they were when I started all this, by weighing them down (singalling them that the growth cycle was over, and they could stop growing longer) and causing trauma to my follicles by pulling out the loose extensions. I literally was paying to destroy my natural lashes.
That’s the day I quit extensions forever.
I looked in the mirror and cried a little at my lash’s destruction, then set out to find a solution.
Conclusion: Are Lash Extensions for You?
While eyelash extensions are expensive, and high maintenance, they can also give you the lashes you have always wanted and enhance your natural beauty. You should spend time researching different technicians in your area, and always make sure they are licensed and certified. Avoid eyelash glue that contains harmful ingredients like formaldehyde, as they can cause an allergic reaction.
From my personal experience, you want them on until you want them off. Then you really want them off.
I loved the compliments, but I hated the investment it took and eventually the toll it took on my natural lashes.
If you don’t have the finances, time, or energy and are allergic to the eyelash adhesive used for eyelash extensions, fear not! You can still make your eyelash dreams come true with a growth enhancer like WINK and some seriously good mascara / techniques. The end results might not be quite so dramatic, but you will thank me later.
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