Looking glam AF doesn’t come without some major downsides.
Here are some things you should know before getting (and totally falling for) eyelash extensions:
#1 Semi-permanent eyelash extensions are way different from temporary strip or individual lashes.
Semi-permanent ones are applied by hand one lash at a time by a technician who glues extensions on top of your actual lashes They can last for six to eight weeks with proper care and remain on your natural lashes until they naturally fall out, as all lashes do.
#2 Eyelash extensions aren’t a one-size-fits-all-eyes situation.
After you decide to get extensions, you have to make a whole lot of other decisions, beginning with the lash material, such as mink, silk, or some other kind of synthetic. (Mink is usually pricier, feels softer, and looks more natural; however, some synthetics, which are highly customizable, can also look and feel natural and end up costing as much as or more than mink.) Then, you’ll have to pick your density (more lashes create a fuller look); curl (the steeper the slope, the more dramatic the effect); and length (a matter of personal preference, really).
To complicate things even more, every place offers different lash and application options, so your best bet is to show your technician a photo of the look you want, and talk through options and costs.
#3 The longer the extensions, the more lashes you’ll probably need.
Super-long lashes appear to spread as they extend away from your lid, which can make them look less full than your natural lashes. That’s why you may thought they look sparse and spidery. But if you go for slightly shorter extensions, you will get away with purchasing fewer of them.
#4 You have to lay low for at least 12 hours after application.
Most technicians will tell you not to sweat, cry, swim, or wash your face for at least 12 hours after getting extensions to give the glue a chance to dry. When glue doesn’t dry, it can dissolve and invade your eyes, or vaporize in response to your body temperature. These scenarios can trigger eye redness and irritation that’s unflattering and uncomfortable.
#5 Extensions are expensive and time-consuming to maintain.
While extensions are typically dramatic enough to give you the same effect as mascara, which isn’t recommended for use on top of extensions because it can damage them, don’t kid yourself into thinking extensions will save you money on makeup in the long run. In New York City, a basic set (typically 70 to 80 lashes per eye) can put you back at least $100, but upward of $400 for application by the most experienced technicians. And then you also have to tip. Plus, the entire experience can take up to two hours.
But the high-maintenance fun doesn’t stop there. Because eyelashes grow and eventually fall out, you’ve also got to go back every few weeks for fill-ins, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $165, depending on how many new lashes you need.
The longer you go between fill-ins, the more lashes you’ll need, and the more it will cost you. Also, beware that some technicians won’t fill in lashes after a certain point because it’s easier to start from scratch (i.e., take the lashes off using a special solution that dissolves the glue), and more lucrative to charge you for a brand new set of extensions than a fill-in.
#6 Extensions make everyday eye makeup pretty much unnecessary.
When it comes to extensions, not only they stand in for mascara, but also the base of each extension creates the illusion of eyeliner too. Even if you never wear a ton of makeup during the day, you will stop wearing eye makeup altogether. You will feel selfie-ready every second, and still feel pretty stellar whether you’ve just rolled out of bed or gotten back from a run. And TBH, feeling just a bit more put-together during your early morning barefaced gym sessions is a major perk.
#7 They get in the way when you do want to wear eyeliner (or remove it).
When special occasions call for more of a dramatic makeup look, you’ll found it incredibly difficult to apply basic eyeliner. The exaggerated angle of the lashes can block your view, making it hard to see where the liner is going. And because rubbing your eyes can loosen natural lashes, removing eye makeup with cotton pads or oil-based wipes can wreak havoc on your lush falsies, accidentally pulling them out or dissolving the glue. P.S. If you do need to apply a full-on eye and eventually remove it at the end of the night, use oil-free pads and gently swipe downward to take the makeup off.
#8 Daily maintenance isn’t entirely effortless.
Lashes can get tousled when you sleep or get them wet, which makes them look messy, and they can also pick up debris. So, it’s important to gently brush your lashes with a clean, disposable mascara wand when you wake up, after you shower, and at the end of the day. (We recommend applying diluted baby shampoo to the lashes for gentle nightly cleanings.) It’s a myth that you shouldn’t wash your lashes and we warn you not to play with, pick at, or rub them.
#9 Extensions can seriously mess with your eyes.
You will probably leave the salon with gorgeous lashes but really red eyes. But you should really start worring if you wake up with the same redness plus itchiness.
A care doctor may diagnose you with conjunctivitis, a bacterial infection you might pick up from having the eyelash technician get all up in your eyes with her bare hands. (Trchnicians say they can’t work with gloves on because they get caught on everything, and everything gets stuck to them.) Of course it’s also possible that you pick up the infection from something else, like contaminated lashes or even rubbing your eyes.
To minimize the risk of transmitting icky stuff, make sure your technician washes their hands between clients, wears a mask, uses sanitary pillow covers, sterilizes their tweezers, and uses disposable eyelash brushes.
Reactions to extension applications are pretty common. A web-based survey conducted in Japan found that 26.5 percent of people who’d gotten them experienced some kind of reaction, such as redness, irritation, and itchy, swollen eyelids. It could have something to do with irritants like formaldehyde in the eyelash glue. For this reason, we recommend sticking to salons that use American-made glues, which are typically made without the ingredient. Just ask where glue is made when you make an appointment, and don’t be surprised if salons that use glues sourced in the U.S. charge slightly more. Glues made with butylcyanoacrylate and octylcyanoacrylate are ideal because they’re flexible when dry, odorless, and generally “less toxic” to the eye than alternatives, but you’re still talking about chemicals near your eyes. It’s no wonder the American Academy of Ophthalmology frowns upon extensions in the first place.
If you do experience any abnormal symptoms, it is smart to return to your salon to get the lashes removed. It’s hard to differentiate between the bacterial infection and an allergic episode or a combination of both, so removal will lead to faster resolution.
#10 After you get extensions, your natural lashes will always seem much shorter to you.
Extensions shouldn’t cause lash breakage, so long as your technician doesn’t overload fragile lashes with extensions that are too heavy.
#11 No one knows whether frequent application eyelash extensions causes permanent damage.
There is not much data showing if eyelash extensions affects any aspect of lash length, growth, or health long-term, although some talk about traction alopecia in which natural lashes can fall out as a result of the constant weight of the repeated eyelash extensions. ?
#12 You’ll probably be addicted to extensions despite the cost/inconvenience/icky risks.