Eyelash Extensions 101: Everything You Need to Know Before Your Appointment


NOV 17, 2021
Look, I'm not proud of it, but the first time I got eyelash extensions, I forgot to ask all the important questions before my appointment. I was just so pumped to walk out with big, fluttery lashes, no falsies required, that I did absolutely zero research beforehand. “People think they get lashes put on, and they’re done, but there still is maintenance afterwards,” says Dionne Phillips, celebrity eyelash extension expert of D’Lashes.

While it's true that eyelash extensions require less maintenance than wearing mascara or fake eyelashes every day, they're still not really a get-and-forget kinda thing, either. To find out how to prep before your appointment, what the proper aftercare is, and all the other important lash facts, we turned to Phillips and other lash experts for their insights. Keep reading for all the basics you'll be glad to know (slash I wish I knew) before an appointment for eyelash extensions.
What are eyelash extensions?

Eyelash extensions are semipermanent lashes that are hand-glued on top of your natural lashes, says Andra Marin, artistic director and expert lash stylist at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in NYC. Unlike strip lashes, lash extensions are glued on individually to your natural hairs, so they're super customizable and actually look real.

How long do eyelash extensions last?

If you actually take care of them (more on that later), eyelash extensions can last for six to eight weeks until they naturally fall out like your lashes usually do. Once they start falling out, though, you can go back and have your lash stylist fill in the missing pieces. So, technically, you can make your extensions last indefinitely.
Do eyelash extensions ruin your eyelashes?

Not really—there isn't a ton of evidence that shows whether eyelash extensions actually affect your natural lash length or health long-term. There is, however, a teeny-tiny risk of developing traction alopecia, says Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which is where your natural lashes can fall out as a result of the constant weight of repeated eyelash extensions. But don’t stress—this isn't common.

“Usually, it takes years of bad application and improper care for long-term lash damage to happen as a result,” says Marin. So please, only go to legit, well-reviewed salons (no matter how good that Groupon deal is). Make sure your technician follows all the sanitation and disinfection protocols, and don't feel awkward asking your technician to confirm that all of these precautions are being taken. And remember: Listen to your gut. If you're getting a bad vibe from a salon, reschedule.

What's bad about eyelash extensions?
Eyelash extensions aren't dangerous or "bad" as long as your technician is following the correct methods and using the proper materials. Before you head to your appointment, ask the salon about the ingredients in the lash glue they use. If they can’t answer your question, cancel the appointment (you don’t want inexperienced people sticking things to your eyelids), and if they say the glue contains formaldehyde (a known eye irritant that can cause redness, irritation, and itchy, swollen eyelids), def cancel the appointment. It may cost you a little more, but it’s best to choose a salon that uses “glues made with butyl cyanoacrylate and octyl cyanoacrylate instead of formaldehyde—they’re less toxic to the eye area,” says Dr. Al-Mohtaseb.

Also important to note? The difference between a certification and a license. Phillips points out that just because someone has a bunch of certifications, that doesn't mean they're licensed by the state and health department. Some states require lash techs to be licensed, so make sure that the person you're seeing checks all the required boxes.

How much does a full set of eyelash extensions cost?

It depends on where you live, but in New York City, a basic set (typically 70 to 80 lashes per eye) can range anywhere from $100 to $400 plus tip, which is usually another 20 percent. And because eyelashes grow and eventually fall out, you have 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.

PSA: The longer you go between fill-ins, the more lashes you’ll need to replace and the more it will cost you—and if you wait too long, your technician might just want to give you a brand-new set of extensions rather than a fill-in, which obviously won’t be cheap.
How do you know what size eyelash extensions to get?

You might want Kardashian-level lashes, but that doesn’t mean your eyes can handle them. “The type of lashes you can get all depends on the length and strength of your natural lashes,” says Marin. “Wearing lashes that are too long or too thick for your lashes can actually cause damage in the long run, so you need to make sure your extensions aren’t too much longer or thicker than your natural lashes.”

If all that sounds confusing, don't worry—a licensed lash specialist will help you make the best decision for your lashes, including what type of material you should get, like synthetic mink or synthetic silk. 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.
What are classic lashes vs. hybrid eyelash extensions?

When it comes to the density, curl, and length of your extensions, you’ll want to work with your tech to figure out which is the best option for you. “A good lash technician will take your face shape, bone structure, and natural lashes into consideration when helping you decide on a lash look,” says Clementina Richardson, lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes in NYC.

Typically, single or classic lashes means there's one single extension attached to one single, natural lash. If you want more volume, the lash tech can apply a few extension hairs to a single, natural lash, which is commonly called a fan lash or volume lash. And with hybrid lash extensions, your lash tech can combine the two and add a fan where you want more volume, and taper it out with singles. Phillip's best tip: Ask for photos of the lash tech's work to help communicate exactly what you want. The lash terminology changes depending on the lash tech, so make sure you're both on the same page.

Can I wear makeup to my eyelash extension appointment?

Nope. You’ll want to show up to your appointment with clean skin and no eye makeup. That means absolutely no eyeshadow, eyeliner, and/or mascara. Anything on your lids or lashes could affect how your extensions turn out, so definitely make sure to wash your face beforehand.
What can you not do with eyelash extensions?

These days, this largely depends on the type of products your lash tech uses. Getting your eyelashes wet used to be a huge no-no, but Phillips explains that some glue formulas of today do allow exposure to water within 24 hours. Always clarify with your lash tech what the best aftercare protocol is for your specific set, but it's a good idea to refrain from tugging, pulling, rubbing, or applying any type of oily formula. “Oil will break down the adhesive,” Phillips explains. “If you're putting on serums, avoid that on your lash line.”

As long as your keep your lash line protected, eye creams are okay. For those with oily skin and oily eyelids, Phillips recommends eyeshadow primers to absorb excess oil and stop it from seeping down into the lash line.
How do you shower with eyelash extensions?

You can, but confirm with your lash stylist if you need to wait until 24 hours after your appointment. “Eyelash adhesives vary in the time they take to cure, from either 12 to 24 hours depending on what glue your stylist uses,” says Marin. It’s super important that you’re gentle with your lashes and make sure that no water touches them during this time, says Richardson. You can shower after getting eyelash extensions, and you def should. But! Be! Careful! Phillips says to let your lashes lightly graze the water, and when you dry off, use the towel to carefully dab underneath your eyes to absorb the water.

Can you put mascara on eyelash extensions?

Marin doesn’t recommend using mascara with lash extensions. Why? Because when you attempt to take it off at the end of the day, you can actually cause your extensions to break from the friction and makeup remover. Not only that, but mascara can clump your lashes together and make them hard to clean. As for eyeliner, Richardson says to avoid using cream-based formulas, which often contain oils and waxes that interfere with adhesives.

How do you wash your face with eyelash extensions?
You might think that washing your lashes will make them fall off faster, but Phillips debunks that myth and stresses the importance of washing away any buildup that can cause breakage. Richardsaon recommends only use cleansers specifically formulated to be safe for eyelash extensions. Other products may contain ingredients that can weaken the bond of your lash extensions and cause them to shed prematurely. And if you’re wearing eye makeup, use oil-free pads and gently swipe downward, rather than back and forth, to get your lids and lashes clean. And whatever you do, avoid rubbing or tugging at your eyes.

How often should I brush my lash extensions?

Lashes can get tangled when you’re sleeping or showering, so gently brush your lashes with a clean spoolie brush when you wake up, after you shower, and at the end of the day. As your lashes grow out above the lash line where they started, the spoolie might get caught and tug your lashes, so at that point, Phillips suggests only using the tip the spoolie to separate the lash hairs to avoid pulling any out. If you need to remove gunk or sleep from your eyes, Phillip says a soft eyeshadow brush dipped in water is the perfect tool for cleaning and fluffing out your lashes again. To prevent unnecessary tangling, try to sleep on your back or side (not your stomach) and use a silk pillowcase, which tends to be gentler on extensions, says Richardson.

How do you take lash extensions off?

Carefully. Again, no tugging, pulling, or rubbing. Remember how you're supposed to avoid oils because they can break down the glue? Use that to your advantage! Phillips says if you can't get to a lash tech and you need to remove your lashes, gently press a little oil, like vitamin E or castor oil, onto your eyelashes and leave it overnight to soak through the adhesive. When you wash your face in the morning, the extensions should easily slide off.

Are lash extensions worth it?

Okay, so there’s a lot to think about before you decide to get eyelash extensions. If you feel like mascara isn’t totally cutting it and you’re okay with the extra maintenance and cash that eyelash extensions require, it’s definitely worth finding a specialist and having a consultation, IMO. And hey, there’s no harm in experimenting with a good pair of falsies before you commit to anything.


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