If most women are honest, they’d love to roll out of bed with long, luscious lashes that don’t need a coat with mascara to look their best. It was an unlikely dream, until eyelash extensions became mainstream. But what is all the hype about? How do they work? And do they really (really!) make a difference? Here’s all you need to know if you’re considering a lash upgrade.

(Courtesy Kate Leth)

What are Eyelash Extensions?

Firstly, you shouldn’t confuse eyelash extensions with false eyelashes. While they’re both artificial, they’re not the same thing. False eyelashes have been around for decades, and were made popular by doe-eyed celebrities like Twiggy and Bridget Bardot. They only last a day or two, and because they’re attached using a sticky strip, all you need is a mirror and a steady hand and you can apply them yourself.

Eyelash extensions are regarded as semi-permanent and they need to be glued on by a professional. They add length, thickness and fullness to your natural lashes and they can last for weeks. When they’re attached, they fill out your eye line and make your eyes pop, without needing lashings of mascara. Think of them as hair extensions – for your eyelashes.

Types of Lashes:

– Synthetic. These are the most basic and affordable lashes on the market. They come in a variety of widths, lengths, styles and curls, and they’re quite glossy and rather heavy. These are the original fakes and they create a rather dramatic lash look.

– Silk. When they hit the market, they swiftly became far more popular that their predecessor. They’re not really made from silk, but rather a synthetic silk, and this makes them softer and more flexible. They mimic natural lashes as they’re thicker at the bottom and thin out at the tip. They come in a range of lengths and curls, and last longer than synthetics.

– Mink. It’s okay to feel a little weird about this option! Pushing aside the fact that you’re wearing fur on your lashes – the minks aren’t harmed as the hair is simply brushed off their tails. Understandably this is a far more pricey option, which is why it’s in the realm of superstars and celebrities. Mink is soft, feathery and lightweight, which makes it the most natural-looking fake eyelash available. It also last longer than silk or synthetic lashes. If you can’t handle real mink, there are 100% faux mink lashes instead.

– Human hair. Yes, I said human! While it makes logical sense – particularly for natural blondes and red heads – it feels a little creepy. That, together with cost, is probably why it’s the least popular option.

How Does it Work?

Firstly you choose the lashes you want – there are different styles, colours, thickness, length and curls. It also depends on the condition of your natural lashes, because if you have little stubs, you can’t get dramatic Kim Kardashian lashes.

You get comfy, close your eyes, and a technician uses long, pointed tweezers to pick up one fake lash. They dip it into adhesive and then hold it to your real eyelash – not your skin – until it adheres. This is repeated with each fake lash, and it can take anywhere from 40-180 minutes, depending if you want a half or full set of lashes. It’s rather laborious for the professional, but not for the client who tends to fall asleep. They feel a little odd initially, but it’s nothing that you won’t soon get used to. If they’re applied correctly it should look natural. You, only better!

How Long do They Last?

This really depends on three things: your eyelash growth cycle, your lifestyle and how well you follow your aftercare instructions.

The normal life cycle of an eyelash is between 2-3 months and when the lash falls out, a new one grows back in its place. Because lash extensions are attached to your natural lashes, when they fall out, so do your fakes. On average they last between 2-6 weeks, but it depends on your particular cycle. It’s important to remember that your extensions won’t all fall out at once, so touch-ups every 2-3 weeks are recommended to fill the gaps.
Your lifestyle plays a role because if you’re active and swim or sweat a lot, then they won’t last as long as a person with a more sedentary lifestyle.

How you look after your lashes will also impact on how long they last.

(Courtesy beautydette.com)

Aftercare Instructions:

– Stay away from water for the first 24-48 hours after application, to allow the glue to set.
– Use a face wipe to clean your face.
– Avoid steam rooms, hot showers and saunas in the first 2 days.
– Try swimming goggles when you shower!
– Don’t use oil-based makeup, cleanser or lotion as they break down the adhesive.
– Give eyelash curlers a skip.
– Don’t rub your eyes excessively.
– Continual touching will reduce their lifespan.
– Sleep on your side, not your face.
– Gently wash your lashes to keep them clean.
– Blot dry after showering and be careful to not get them caught on your towel.
– Use eyelash conditioner or growth serum on your natural lashes.

What Can I do With My Lashes?

Once 48 hours has passed, it’s safe to shower, swim and exercise, just remember that the more vigorous you are with them, the more likely they are to fall off. The joy of eyelash extensions is looking like you’re wearing mascara, when you’re not. But if you still feel the need to apply, make sure you avoid anything waterproof, as the oil loosens the bonding agent. Just do the tips and when you remove your mascara, use a water-based product.

How do I Get Them Off?

Whether they’re irritating your eyes, have half fallen out, or you’re simply not a fan – if you want them removed, your best option is to go to a professional.

If you’re intent on doing this at home, please don’t start pulling them off. Your real lashes will likely come out with your fake ones, and this could result in unsightly and unwelcome bald patches.

Fill a bowl with boiling water and place your face over the water. Cover your head with a towel and steam your face for about 5-10 minutes. This should help to loosen your lashes and you can then use an eyebrow brush to comb them out. Oil also accelerates the process, so take baby oil or oily makeup remover and use a cotton pad to gently wipe the lashes. Your lashes should slide off, unless your technician did an unusually vigorous job adhering them in the first place!

(Courtesy betterafter50.com)

It’s Important to Know:

– Eyelash extensions aren’t cheap, and if you plan on spoiling yourself, ensure you go to a reputable salon, where the conditions are sanitary and a trained technician uses only the best products.

– As with many beauty procedures, there are possible risks and side effects. In this case it’s mostly related to the adhesive, but it could also be directly from the lashes. Inform your technician if you have sensitive skin, as there are different adhesives available. If you’re uncertain, then get a test patch done first to see if you have an allergic reaction.

– One of the most contentious issues when it comes to lash extensions is the controversy about breakages and hair loss. The claim is that prolonged use can lead to your own lashes falling out or thinning. It’s important to remember that it’s an unregulated industry, so it’s up to you to find a salon that comes recommended. If you get them done professionally, you shouldn’t experience any issues.

– When your lash extensions are removed, you probably won’t like your normal ones any more as them seem thinner and (so much!) shorter, but this is more perception than reality.

No More Crying Over Spilled Mascara

Many brides fancy the idea of getting lash extensions put in before their wedding, but it’s something that needs to be tested beforehand. While you want voluminous lashes on your wedding day, you don’t want your lashes to hit the groom before your lips do.

Getting extensions is something every woman should experience at least once. It does take time, money and effort to maintain a beauty treatment like this, but surely it’s worth it, to wake up for a few weeks looking like you’ve truly had your beauty sleep. You may or may not be a convert, but don’t lash out until you’ve tried it!