Long, lush eyelashes seem to be gaining on Instagram eyebrows in popularity. Just check out your social media feed—there's more than meets the eye to those flawless "no makeup" selfies from your favorite beauty bloggers. Eyelash extensions are a semi-permanent alternative to painting and curling your lashes every morning, so you really can say you "woke up like this". They're definitely less time-consuming than falsies, and more fun than the natural thing, but they aren't for everybody. Here's everything you need to know if you're thinking about taking the eyelash extension plunge.
1. You Might Not Be A Good Candidate
We hear you—this sucks, but the health of your eyes and natural lashes should come first. Ellie Malmin, Lashologist™ at Anushka Spa in New York, says there are quite a few conditions that might keep someone from being an ideal candidate for lash extensions. A good technician might turn away someone who has dry eye syndrome and is undergoing treatment for it, someone who had cataracts put in within the last six months, or someone who rubs their eyes frequently or is a direct face sleeper. It's not about you—it's about your eyes and lashes. Luscious lashes aren't worth eye irritation or broken, brittle lashes. If your tech says she doesn't think eyelash extensions are your best option, take her word for it.
2. The Process Should Be Pain-Free
Though most first timers are nervous, our experts insist that getting lash extensions is nothing to be afraid of.
Most people fall asleep after they've had it done once," says Malmin. "It's like having your hair brushed really softly—it's hypnotic."
As for the actual process, Malmin says the process takes about two hours and should include a consultation, through lash and face line cleanse, and a brief eye examination that ensures the client is a good candidate. From there, the technician will adhere each extension onto your natural lashes, which should be painless and relaxing.
3. They're Expensive
The price of lash extensions can vary by state, salon, and set type, but across the board, it's a pretty pricey investment.
"A quality full set averages $200-$500 dollars depending on the location, and a quality touch-up runs $100-$250 dollars," says Amanda Jacobellis, CEO and Creator of LAshX. "Some places are also priced based on time, or the number of actual lashes they place on the eye."
There are a few different options that can change your total price, too—a single set will cost less than a volume set, which has more lashes. At the end of the spectrum is Russian volume lashes, which tends to be the most expensive and involves technicians attaching a small fan of homemade lashes to your own, natural lashes.
4. They're High Maintenance
"[Lash extensions] are a relatively high-maintenance addition to your beauty routine," says Dr. Peter Capizzi, lead of the Capizzi Medical Practice in Charlotte, South Carolina. "While wearing lash extensions, you cannot scrub your eyes when washing your face, and you have to be very careful when rubbing your eyes—allergy season does not help—and you have to get them replaced every 4-6 weeks."
In addition, most technicians recommend you wash your eyelashes daily to keep them free of oil and debris. Malmin recommends diluting Johnson & Johnson baby shampoo, which she says is the recommended cleansing method by many optometrists. She also cautions clients against skipping fill-in sessions.
"If you don't come for fills, [the lashes] look stupid. You have to have them professionally taken off if you don't want to do the fills."
5. They Can Affect Natural Lashes
Many extension wearers are concerned about the affects eyelash extensions have on their natural lashes. They worry that beneath the extensions their eyelashes may becomes broken and brittle, but the experts say their clients have nothing to worry about—as long as they go to a reputable salon, that is
"If you go to a good place and follow the aftercare instructions, your natural lashes will actually get healthier and fuller because you won't be doing the daily wear and tear by using curlers or mascara," says Jacobellis.
Lashes usually only become damaged when they are not applied correctly—an untrained tech might accidentally attach the extensions to more than one eyelash and allow them to become twisted, for example. This is why it's important that technicians ensure their clients are good candidates—face sleepers or eye rubbers are bound to wreak havoc on their extensions and natural lashes, too.
6. Find A Good Technician
"There are plenty of fantastic technicians out there," says Lauren Kirk, eyelash extension specialist. "When a lash is applied properly you should not even feel them."
If you do feel pain during or after the application process, you're not dealing with a skilled tech. Malmin says if the process does hurt or feel uncomfortable, you should leave ASAP. Jacobellis recommends people looking for a trained technician check out their social media channels and make sure the tech's work looks solid and their models don't have red eyes—this is a sign the technician might use a low quality adhesive. All reputable technicians should do at least a ten-minute consultation before they get to work, and they should explain proper aftercare for your lashes, too.
Each state has different regulations for eyelash extension technicians: In New York, lash technicians don't have to be certified, whereas in California, someone must be a licensed esthetician before they can apply lash extensions.
7. There Are Alternative Options
Not everyone is a prime candidate for eyelash extensions. It might be because of eye health, finances, or an aversion to the amount of maintenance they require. Regardless, there's an alternative for you.
Capizzi recommends Latisse for people who want their natural lashes to be longer, thicker, or fuller without the assistance of lash extensions (but be sure to read the side effects first). For people who want stunning lashes for a special occasion, Malmin recommends drop in lashes, which requires the technician to adhere the extensions on top of the natural lashes. These last for a day. Of course, there are cheaper ways to make your eyelashes look longer, like traditional false lashes, or your trusty mascara wand.
Eyelash extensions can look gorgeous—our favorite celebrities are proof of that—but there's a lot of important information to know before you book the appointment. They are a big (and expensive) commitment, so be sure to weigh the pros and cons before you shell out your money.