My relationship with my eyelashes has always been a love-hate one. Although, hate is such a strong word, so maybe I would classify it as "disappointment." Listen, I know it's not my face's fault that I wasn't blessed with abundant lashes. They've always been sparse and stick-straight.
All of that changed when I was diagnosed with glaucoma at the age of 23 and had to take daily eye drops. While having glaucoma is a serious subject, one silver lining of the whole thing was that my eye drops had the same formulation as Latisse, the medication that makes your eyelashes grow. For the next seven years, I had the lashes I always dreamed of. They were thick and long and just perfect. People would even give me compliments, wanting to know what my secret was.
But like most good things in life, my eyelash abundance came to an end about a year and a half ago when my ophthalmologist took me off the drops. It was like when Cinderella's carriage turned back into a pumpkin—in just a few months, I was back to my normal-looking lashes. I've been trying to re-create the magic ever since, experimenting with eyelash serums and even attempting to put on falsies.
So far, the serums have been getting the job done, but I wanted to do a little bit more investigating, and in doing so, I discovered eyelash extensions, which I've been contemplating getting as one of my first post-quarantine beauty services. To learn more about them, I reached out to lash extension artist and owner of D'Lashes Luxury Lash Spa in Beverly Hills Dionne Phillips, who has worked with celebrities like Zoë Kravitz, Serena Williams, Victoria Beckham, and Mary J. Blige.
What are eyelash extensions?
I always thought eyelash extensions were the same thing as falsies, but that's not the case. Extensions are way more intricate than that. "Eyelash extensions are thin fibers that are individually attached to one single natural lash one hair at a time," Phillips says. "Eyelash extensions are usually made up of synthetic, silk, mink, or like-fiber material and come in different lengths, curl patterns, and colors. The sizes range from 6 mm long all the way up to 18 mm and up. Usually, the width of one single lash extension comes in different lengths for the desired look of the client. [Lash artists usually use] a strong liquid cyanoacrylate, safe adhesive to apply the lash extensions individually."
The extensions normally last up to two to four weeks, depending on maintenance and your hair growth rate. Your lashes are in a constant rotation of growth, Phillips says, and you should see new hair growing out every 90 days. "There are three cycles of hair growth, so each natural hair has to go into rotation, depending on the growth cycle," she explains. "The three cycles are anagen stage, (new growth), catagen (hair roots start degenerating), and telogen (growth stops completely and falls out). That cycle starts all over again for each natural hair, which is why it's important to get touch-ups between every two to three weeks."
The cost of the beauty service depends on the location, skill of the lash artist, and materials used. Phillips suggests doing research into different lash artists around you and looking at their work and prices. To give a ballpark range, she says that the service normally costs $250 in Beverly Hills, depending on the type of lashes you get. At her salon, extensions start at $200 and go up to $375.
Types of Eyelash Extensions
The different types of eyelash extensions available mostly depend on the lash artist. "All lash looks depend on the client's natural hairs and shape of the eye," Phillips explains. "One style does not look the same on each person since our eyes come in different shapes and sizes. It's up to the lash artist to adjust and use judgment to what the client wants and shape of the client's eyes."
While the types may differ, here are three of the most common ones, according to Phillips.
Classic Lash Extensions: This is a natural set of extensions usually following what the client has as far as their own natural lashes. It's just a tapered, natural look. It usually consists of one single hair attached to one single natural lash hair.
Hybrid Lashes: These consist of a classic lash style mixed in with a bit of the fullness of mixed curl patterns, usually a C and D curl pattern, to give the client more of a wispy and natural look.
Volume Lashes/Full Lashes: These consist of three or more single lashes that are grouped and fanned out onto one single natural hair, giving the eye a fuller, darker, and denser look. The single extension hair has a bigger width to create a fan. This type of lash looks like a cluster-type lash.
Who's a good candidate for eyelash extensions?
"I think eyelash extensions are recommended to anyone looking for a natural or fuller look or someone who wants the convenience of waking up looking fresh and ready to go," Phillips says. "[And they're good for] anyone looking for the convenience of not having to wear mascara. Mascara is not recommended with eyelash extension due to the lashes clumping or not lasting as long."
But because eyelash extensions do require maintenance about every other week, you might want to rethink getting them if you can't commit, Phillips adds. Other people who might not be good candidates for extensions include people who have sensitivity around their eyes, anyone who has a disorder of pulling or tugging on their eyelashes, and people who might not be able to tolerate the adhesives. Phillips also recommends that cancer patients who have lost their lashes due to chemo treatments wait until their treatments are completed.
What happens when you get eyelash extensions at a salon?
When you get lash extensions, you'll probably have a consultation with the lash artist first to talk about the kind of look you want. "It's important to make sure your lash artist understands your needs and point of view when it comes to explaining exactly what you want," Phillips says. "If you are unsure, I always suggest going with a natural, classic look first. Then on the next appointment, if you want more, we can always adjust the look. From my experience, clients usually come back always wanting more lashes." Make sure your lash technician or esthetician is a state-licensed professional so you can ensure they're following the right guidelines, especially when it comes to sanitation.
As for the process itself, Phillips says you'll lie down, and the technician will clean your natural lashes first and lay your bottom lashes down with a gel patch. The artist will apply the desired lashes to your natural ones. The service normally takes up to two hours, depending on the technician's experience. Phillips says most of her clients fall asleep during it, and honestly, that sounds so relaxing to me.
Can you DIY eyelash extensions?
Because the process is so intricate, it's recommended to get extensions at a salon. "Most people cannot see the tiny extensions hairs that need to be applied to one single hair unless you're using store-bought cluster lashes with a safe adhesive/glue. Those are not usually eyelash extensions, as the hairs are too small to apply on oneself unless you are experienced," Phillips says.
If you do decide to enhance your lashes at home, there are clusters, strip lashes, and individual ones, but they're not like the extensions you get at a salon. Phillips says these usually last for 24 hours if your skin doesn't secrete oil that will usually come off throughout the day. You can reuse some of these as well, depending on how you take care of them.
Scroll below for some more eyelash-enhancing picks:
Eyelash Tools and Accessories
Phillips recommends her lash kit: "The D'Lashes Lash It! Kit comes with three different styles of lashes, an applicator, and the new adhesive eyeliner pen. This dual-action pen acts as an eyeliner and adhesive, making for an easier way to apply the lashes with ease directly to your lash line."
If you're looking to support your natural lashes, this serum is a good option. It's formulated with botanical compounds to promote and encourage lash and brow growth.