If it suddenly seems like all your friends have grown a set of movie-star eyelashes—they haven’t. It’s just lash extensions. Extensions may just be the answer for you if all the amazing mascara formulas on the market, lash lifts, and false lash options aren’t giving you enough of a boost. Like any beauty treatment, it’s important to do your research before booking your treatment. We caught up with Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Crsor Lashes in N.Y.C., to share everything you need to know about lash extensions, from how long it takes to what you can expect to pay.
What Exactly Are Eyelash Extensions?
“Lash extensions are semi-permanent synthetic, faux mink or silk fibers which are applied strand by strand to your natural lashes,” explains Richardson. As you might expect, the application is fairly tedious. “The extensions are carefully applied one at a time using a specially-formulated, semi-permanent glue that will not irritate or damage the natural lash,” she adds.
Unlike false eyelashes, where the strip or individual lashes are applied to the skin, lash extensions are attached directly to the lash itself. The results are more lush, dense lashes that may even let you skip mascara (gasp).
Do Eyelash Extensions Look Natural?
The final look is meant to enhance your natural lashes with more length, fullness, and lift. Whether that look is more dramatic or more natural is up to the client, but generally, the more lashes applied, the more dramatic the effect. A typical treatment involves anywhere from 80-140 individual extensions per eye, with lashes ranging in length from 6-18mm, according to Richardson. “It’s not one size fits all,” she explains. “For instance, if you have damaged lashes, or naturally weak, short natural lashes, it’s not always possible to get a more dramatic look that a client with stronger, thicker lashes can achieve.”
How Long Does the Process Take?
The bad news? Expect the treatment to take one to two hours, depending on your desired look. The good news? You can use it as an excuse to lie down, relax, and take a forced break from your phone.
A good lash technician will take their time, reminds Richardson. “Safety should be your number-one concern. Finding someone who is certified to apply the lashes is a must. Depending on the state, the stylist also needs to be licensed,” she advises.
How Much Do Eyelash Extensions Cost?
Cost varies depending on the location, technician, and the final look. At Envious Lashes, a starter set is $105, and “Bombshells”—a favorite of Richardson’s celeb clients like Mary J. Blige—cost upwards of $550. Longer lashes are both a time and financial commitment, and could potentially cost you thousands of dollars per year depending on how often you get them filled.
How Do You Care for Lash Extensions?
Avoid water for the first day or so until the glue has a chance to fully dry. Treat your new lashes with TLC—don’t curl them, slap on mascara, or rub your eyes. Basically, avoid anything that requires you to touch your lashes, and stay away from oil-based products and cleansers as well. Mascara can be applied to just the tips of lashes if you’d like, but it’s best to skip it all together. After all, your new lashes should be dramatic enough on their own.
How Long Do Eyelash Extensions Last?
Because extensions are attached to the lash itself, they last as long as the natural growth cycle, or about six weeks. To extend the life of the extensions, Richardson recommends using a lash conditioner (yes, it exists!) and to gently comb through your lashes with a dry spoolie brush. She also recommends getting “refills” every two to three weeks to fill in any sparse areas.