The beauty industry has seen it all when it comes to lashes—magnifying mascaras, “miracle” growth serums, heated curlers—you name it. But no trend is quite as polarizing as eyelash extensions. When extensions first hit the mainstream market, it seemed like a relatively painless way to achieve wispy, fluttering lashes without the inconvenience of falsies or mascara. But as with any new beauty service, lash extensions quickly revealed their drawbacks. For starters, some states haven’t placed regulations on the service, consequently leading to cases of irritation, infection, and damaged natural lashes due to poor hygiene and technique.1 The process is also fairly expensive, setting you back hundreds of dollars and hours of your personal time.
Types of Eyelash Extensions
Lash artists use three different kinds of eyelash extension materials: mink, silk, and synthetic. Some studios also carry "faux mink eyelashes" extensions, which are technically just synthetic extensions that mimic mink extensions. Most lash studios have their preference for the type of lash extension they use and won't always ask you if you have a preference. So if you're vegan or allergic to cats, be sure to specifically request that mink eyelash extensions are not used on you. No lash extension type lasts longer than the other, but mink and silk flat eyelashes tend to have a more natural look, while synthetic lashes can be thicker and darker, which is better suited for those who want a bolder look.
Within these three categories (mink, silk, and 3D synthetic eyelashes), there are varying degrees of length and curl to choose from. Typically your lash artist will use multiple lengths and curl strengths to create a wide-eyed effect, with longer lashes being placed towards the outer corners of the eyes and shorter lashes placed on the inner corners.
Application: Using tweezers, your lash artist will dip the end of each extension in the lash glue and then apply it to your individual circular eyelashes. In most cases, one eyelash extension is applied per natural lash, however, more voluminous looks can require multiple extensions per individual natural lash. The application isn’t painful, although you may feel anxious having tweezers operate so close to your eyes while they’re closed.Potential Damage to Natural Lashes: Even if you see the best lash artist and execute your aftercare perfectly, it’s still very possible that you’ll see damage to your natural human hair eyelashes. As your natural lashes grow, your extensions get farther and farther from the root of the lash. This makes it harder for your natural lashes to support the weight of the extension, which can cause breakage. Rubbing or itching your lashes in your sleep (either with your hands or against your pillow) can also cause damage to natural lashes. 3
Uneven Fallout: Your lashes are at all different stages of growth at any given time, which means that some lashes are in a period of growth, while others are getting ready to shed. This means that a few weeks after your appointment, some extensions will fall out as lashes shed and are replaced with new, extension-free eyelashes, while others will remain in tact. This can create an uneven, scattered effect if you don’t get your extensions refilled every 2-4 weeks.
Washing Your Face Is a Pain: Remember that you can’t rub your eyes when you have eyelash extensions, which means you have to work around the eye area when you’re washing your face.