Have you ever noticed a friend or coworker's lush fringe and wished you'd been born as lucky? If so, there's a good chance they've had help from extensions. "When I first started back in 2007, eyelash extensions were mostly worn by celebrities—Mary J. Blige, Naomi Campbell, and Kate Capshaw have been coming to our studio for years," says celebrity lash expert Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in New York City. "Now they've become very mainstream." Richardson chalks up the increase to the rise of social media. Everyone wants to glam up their selfie!
They should be customized
There's no one-size-fits-all with lash extensions, so good lash artists will start by asking about the look you're after, whether it's soft and fluffy, long and leggy, full-on beauty queen, or your own variation. "Lash extensions come in different lengths, widths, and curvatures," Richardson explains. Lash artists will also evaluate your face shape, bone structure, and existing lashes to determine which extensions will best enhance your eyes. "Extensions that are too heavy should not be applied to natural lashes that can't support the weight," she says, or you're asking for breakage. Another styling option is almond shaping, which use three to four different lengths, along with one to two different curvatures to create an ideal shape. Use these makeup tricks to make your eyes look bigger.
You get what you pay for
Eyelash extensions can be pricey, so it's tempting to take advantage of discounts or promotions. "Don't go for the cheapest price," Richardson warns. "Beyond giving you uneven, clumpy-looking lashes, an inexperienced or unlicensed lash stylist can damage your natural lashes, which can also prevent regrowth," leaving unattractive gaps in your lash line. Just like you would read Yelp reviews and look at before-and-after photos from a hairstylist, do the same when finding a professional lash technician, Richardson suggests. "You will 100 percent notice a difference, as it's the quality, skill, and artistry that matters most with this type of service."
You can choose the material
Eyelash extensions can be made of synthetic polyester, mink, or silk fibers, which are applied strand by strand to your natural lashes and have their own characteristics. Beyoncé is said to favor authentic mink fur extensions, which give a light, feathery look and put less pressure on the natural lashes than other varieties. (They're also more expensive.) "The lash material you choose can enhance your natural eye or create the illusion of a differently shaped eye, such as a more lifted appearance, wider eyes, more open eyes, or almond-shaped eyes for a sultry look," Richardson says.
You need your own healthy set first
The ideal candidate for eyelash extensions is actually someone who already has natural lashes of their own. If that's not you, get ready to do some homework. "For people who don't have healthy lashes, I recommend using a lash conditioning serum for three weeks before coming in for a set," Richardson says. She recommends Envious Lashes Luxuriating Lash Conditioning Serum, a blend of natural botanicals and ingredients that help promote stronger, fuller-looking lashes, but there are others on the market, including Vegalash, with all-natural ingredients, and RevitaLash, designed by a doctor after his wife lost her lashes to cancer treatment. "The stronger your natural lashes, the better the chances of preventing breakage," she says. Here are more beauty secrets estheticians won't tell you.
Your eyes won't get glued shut
One of the biggest beauty myths people believe about getting eyelash extensions is the fear of getting their eyes sealed shut—or worse, going blind. Fortunately, neither outcome is possible. "Lash extensions are attached using a medical-grade adhesive, one strand per natural lash, avoiding the skin or eyelid area," Richardson explains. "If applied correctly by a licensed, certified, trained professional, the extensions will look as if they're growing directly from your eyelids." That said, an inexperienced technician could accidentally apply excessive adhesive—but even that would only glue a few lashes together. There's pretty much zero risk of it sealing your eyes closed, since your top or bottom lash line is taped down gently while the other is being worked on. And in the unlikely event that glue gets in your eye, it might cause irritation, but never blindness.
You should get the talk
Before applying extensions, the technician should review the risks and benefits of having eyelash extensions and also ask about any conditions you may have that would make eyelash extensions unsuitable for you. "People with eye sensitivity may have a negative reaction to the materials involved," Richardson says. If your tech tries to dive straight into the treatment, it's a sign that you need to find a more expert practitioner, preferably one with plenty of experience. "At Envious Lashes, we employ only licensed estheticians or cosmetologists who have had training in the art of lash styling for a minimum of one year, according to requirements from the New York State Department of Licensing," Richardson says.
They last one glorious month
Eyelash extensions are temporary, lasting four to six weeks on average. "As the weeks progress, the extensions will slowly shed until you are back to your natural lashes," Richardson explains. However, if you replace the extensions as they fall out, every two to three weeks, you can maintain your full look. "If you wait too long, your eyelash extensions will fall out and you'll require a new full set," Richardson says. "Your natural eyelashes fall out every 45 to 60 days due to their natural growth cycle, and are naturally replaced with the growth of a new lash."
They're a lazy girl's dream
With eyelash extensions, you can wake up and leave the house without needing to apply any eye makeup, as the extensions will singlehandedly help brighten, open, and enhance your look. "Lash extensions help shorten your beauty routine, eliminating the need to curl your lashes and apply mascara!" Richardson raves. Lash extensions can also contour your eyes by making them appear longer or wider. "It's as if you've gotten an instant face lift without going under the knife," she says. You can still wear mascara with eyelash extensions, but you probably won't feel the need to. Here are the mascara mistakes to definitely avoid.
Your habits matter
Little lifestyle habits can make the difference between long-lasting lash extensions and a face full of fall-out within days. To slow the rate of lash shedding, make an effort to sleep on your back instead of rolling around, sleeping on your side, or (even worse) sleeping on your stomach, which smashes your face into the pillow and creates friction when your lids naturally flutter during REM sleep. Next, practice self-control by not touching or rubbing your eyes throughout the day. This can be especially difficult for anyone who wears contacts, suffers from dry eyes, or has seasonal allergies. Finally, be extra careful when cleaning off your makeup and washing your face. Do your best to be gentle when wiping away your eyeliner and shadow, as makeup-removing wipes and cotton balls, and even regular bath towels, can roughly tug at your eyelash extensions. You'll also need to care for your extensions, brushing them daily with a clean mascara wand (spoolie), and applying a lash conditioning serum at night after the week. Don't miss these simple makeup tips to make your eyes pop.