Everything You Need to Know About Getting Eyelash Extensions

Here are real truths from a veteran extension wearer.

As of November, I’ve been wearing eyelash extensions for the same amount of time a woman carries a child (nine months, kids). Only instead of bringing a new life into the world, I’ve spent roughly $1000 and countless hours at the lash salon, and all I’ve got to show for it is about a quarter inch of extra length on all 200 of my lashes. Not to say that's a bad thing!

I feel majestic and beautiful AF with these things. I wake up in the morning looking bright eyed and put together, I wear considerably less makeup than I did pre-extensions, and I cannot count the number of times I’ve been complimented by strangers and friends. I’ve heard everything from, “You seriously have the most beautiful lashes I’ve ever seen,” to “I demand you tell me what mascara you’re wearing this instant!” to “OK, what’s your lash secret?”

My secret, I tell them, is that I routinely visit a lash salon. And honestly, I don’t see an end in sight.

Despite the crazy time and financial commitment — which I’ve justified by cutting out professional manis/pedis — I am obsessed with these damn things. If you’re thinking about getting extensions yourself, you really should know what you’re getting into. Read on to find out everything you need to know before committing to eyelash extensions.

You’ll Pay More Than Your Monthly Membership Fee

There are many salons that offer a monthly membership, which is convenient for people who want ongoing lashes versus a one-time special occasion. These memberships typically come with one “fill” at a discounted price (generally between $50 to $100 depending on your stylist and salon). The catch is that you’re going to need fills at a frequency of every two to three weeks — not once a month. This means you're paying up to double the monthly fee. Also, your membership fee doesn’t include a tip, which your stylist should receive just like a manicurist or stylist.

Not All Lash Stylists Are Created Equal

In the same way you shop around for a hair stylist, you’re going to want to shop around for a good lash stylist. Not only are you looking for someone who you can spend an hour in a closed room with, you’re looking for someone who excels at their craft. I cannot stress the importance of seeing a high-quality stylist in a high-quality salon. These are your eyes, and your lashes will absolutely pay the price if you don’t.

Yes, You’ll See Lash Damage

Even with the best stylist, you will likely experience some lash damage. After all, you're gluing stuff to your eyelashes, which weighs them down and makes them more prone to snagging and breaking. The amount of damage you see depends on several factors, though: your stylist, your current lash health, the type of extensions you’re wearing, and the way you take care of your extensions. Most lashes cannot handle extreme, ultra-long extensions, and you’ll minimize breakage and damage by choosing a reasonable thickness and length (your stylist can help you with that). I have personally experienced minimal amounts of damage, but if I’m being honest, my lashes are not as healthy as they were pre-extensions.

You Will Have to Change Your Lifestyle

OK, so it’s not a huge lifestyle change, but there are things you’ll need to do differently. For starters, you need to keep a lash comb on you at all times because those bad boys will get tangled. Sometimes they flip upside down and will poke you in the eye at inopportune times. Consistent grooming and fills will help with that, though! Second, you’re going to have to switch up the way you sleep — ideally on your back or at the edge of your pillow, and never face down. Another weird one is that if your extensions are long enough, they may jam against your glasses or sunglasses. This is another reason to get shorter lashes. Finally, it’s imperative that wash your lashes with approved, non-oily soap twice a day. This prevents breakage and keeps the glue bond stronger. Oh, and you may want to invest in a special towel that prevents snags and ripping.

Not Everyone Can Wear Extensions

My own lashes have inspired friends to get their own, and I’ve learned that not everyone will have wild success with them. For example, if you have oily skin, this may cause your extensions to fall off more quickly because the oil breaks the glue bond. Consistent washing and finishing powder dabbed onto the lid and lash line can help. If your lashes are brittle or thin, you also should not wear extensions. Not only will it further damage your natural lashes, but it can make them worse.

The Appointments Are Weird, but May Grow On You

My first appointment was extremely uncomfortable, and felt incredibly strange. Whether you're getting a full set, fill, or touch up, the stylist will tape your bottom lashes down, place an eye pad on top, and then tape your upper eyelid to your brow to gently lift your top lashes. From there, each lash is individually glued onto your natural lash. The first appointment takes two hours, and the subsequent fills take about an hour. Though that first appointment was so weird, I honestly look forward to my appointments now. They give me a reason to close my eyes and not think about anything of importance, and they are strangely soothing.  

In the end, extensions require a great amount of upkeep, and if you're budget conscious they'll require you to trim in other areas of your life. Still, they can make you feel like a goddess, and there's something to be said for that! Who knew something so tiny could bring so much joy?

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