Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about eyelash extensions

According to someone who had them for two years.

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When I was 23, I got really over wearing makeup to work every single day. Not only was 12 hours a day in foundation making my skin spotty, but the time spent applying makeup was time I could use to sleep instead. When you live over an hour away from the office, a bit of extra time in bed is essential to avoid looking like a zombie.

So I said goodbye to makeup during the week and it was awesome, although getting used to the no mascara look was hard. I have long lashes, but they’re fine and very straight. They’re basically invisible unless I have something on them. So I decided to get eyelash extensions. I still got away without makeup, but my eyes had more definition.

I had them on for about two years straight and developed a bit of a love-hate relationship with them. I often get asked questions about them from those who are toying with the idea of getting them, so I decided to share my experiences.

How long do eyelash extensions last?

It depends. Most salons say three to four weeks. In my experience, four weeks is really pushing it. Mine only looked good for two weeks and by the third week, I was counting down the days until my next appointment.

If you want to keep them for a long time, you’ll need to have infills every 2-4 weeks. I had mine filled every three weeks exactly. I had the same Thursday night appointment every time.

But this is different for everyone. There are a variety of things that affect how long your extensions will last.

  • Oily skin or beauty products. If you have particularly oily skin, they may not last as long because oils dissolve the glue used to hold the lashes. The same goes if there is oil in your beauty routine. Oil-based cleansers, makeup removers, moisturisers etc. will shorten the life of your extensions substantially. If you ever put mascara over the top of your extensions, make sure the mascara is oil free.
  • Contact with water. Another factor is how often you get them wet. You cannot get them wet at all for the first 48 hours after they’ve been put on otherwise the glue won’t bond properly. I usually tried to push this to 72 hours as I felt I always got a few extra days out of a set if I waited longer. If you can, try to not get them wet at all. They’ll last way longer. It’s an impossible feat but the fewer times they’re exposed to water, the longer they stay on.
  • Type of extension. Some extensions are heavier than others and obviously, the heavier ones fall out faster, taking your natural lash with it. If you opt for heavy extensions, you’re not going to get as much time out of them as lighter ones.
  • Your eyelashes. If you’ve got thick, sturdy lashes that don’t really fall out all that much, you’re extensions will last longer. If you’ve got light, fine lashes that aren’t going to be too good at supporting the weight of an extension, your lashes will fall out sooner with the extension attached.

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How much do they cost?

My initial set were $150 and infills cost from $40-$80. The price of the infills depends on how many lashes need replacing. The fewer the lashes, the cheaper they are, but every salon has its own pricing.

You’ll find that mink lashes and silk lashes will be more expensive whereas the non-natural ones will be cheaper. The synthetic ones aren’t necessarily worse; it depends on what look you’re going for.

If something seems way too cheap, then it’s probably not a good idea. Really, really cheap lashes can be heavy, which makes your natural lashes fall out. I also don’t think you need to spend a crazy amount like $400 to get a good set. Just shop around and find a fibre and price you’re happy with.

Is there more than one type of eyelash extension? Which one is the best?

Yes. Generally there are mink, faux-mink, silk and synthetic extensions.

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Synthetic lashes will generally look the most intense and the least like your natural lashes. So if you’re after drama, these are the ones you should go for. Generally, they’re also the cheapest.

Mink lashes are made from, you guessed it, mink. A lot of people and salons object to these for animal rights reasons. I certainly never got them. The idea of gluing animal fur to my eyes was never particularly appealing. But they will behave the most like your real lashes. You can curl them and mascara them as you please.

Faux-mink lashes are synthetic lashes created to try and behave the same way as real mink. Because they’re plastic, they will never look exactly like real hair, but at least you’re not using fur. Faux mink lashes are light and glossy, so if you’re after a bit of shine in your lashes, these are a great option.

Silk lashes are my personal favourite for one reason; they’re the lightest. The lighter the extension, the longer they stay on. A lot of people think that eyelash extensions pull out your natural lashes, but they technically don’t. What they do is put extra weight on your lashes, so if you’ve got a lash that is close to falling out, it may fall out sooner thanks to the extra weight.

It’s as if you stuck weights on the hair on your head. They are not going to pull your hair out, but they may cause your hair to fall out faster. Silk lashes also don’t have the same glossy plastic look to them. They look more natural, which is another reason why these were my pick.

Talk to your salon first before you make a decision. If you are after a lighter lash, I’ve seen some salons sell finer and lighter synthetic lashes than even the silk ones I used to wear. Although, synthetic is generally heavier, there are new innovations and styles being created every day so this isn’t always the case.

How long should my eyelash extensions be?

Again, this depends on the type of look you’re going for. But there are a couple of things you should bear in mind.

Lash extensions are generally glued to the base of your natural lashes so as your natural lashes grow out, so do the extensions. As a result, the extensions look longer and longer as time passes. If you opt for a longer set with more drama, they’re going to look really, really long by week two.

I asked my aesthetician for a set that were the same length as my natural lashes. That way when they grew out, they didn’t look over the top. I prefer the natural look, but you may want something different.

Can I trim my eyelash extensions?

Not really. Not by yourself anyway. Lashes start thick at the base and grow out to a dainty point. If you cut them, you chop off the point and are left with blunt ends. And it’s really, really noticeable.

When I went to get my infills done, my aesthetician would trim the extensions that were crazy long and disrupted the natural look of my new set. But she had a special pair of trimmers designed to create a pointed end.

I would recommend you not trim them yourself. The exception to this rule is if one has fallen out but is still glued to others that are still intact, then you should trim the fallen one. Also, if a lash has turned backwards and it’s bothering you, trim it rather than pulling it out.

How can I clean my eyelash extensions?

You don’t really have to clean them. Just brush them through once a day with a dry mascara brush to keep them straight and untangled.

You will need to wash them if you’ve put makeup on them. Try to gently cleanse the mascara/makeup off with water alone. Once you’ve gotten off as much as you can, you can clean the surrounding area as normal. Do not use makeup remover or oil-based products on lash extensions as it will dissolve the glue holding them on.

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Do eyelash extensions ruin your lashes?

Yes and no. If you’re gentle and kind to your extensions, they shouldn’t do much to your natural lashes other than make a few fall out a tad earlier.

If you get heavy extensions, if you tug at them all the time, if you put makeup on them and don’t wash it off, if you rub them, if you pull them, or if you do any of the things the salon specifically tells you not to do, you will pull out many of your natural lashes and it will take a couple of months for them to grow back properly.

Do eyelash extensions hurt?

Nope. If the process of having them put on hurts at all, your aesthetician is doing it wrong.

I personally found it very relaxing.

Can I remove eyelash extensions myself?

I never did this myself, but I believe you can completely dissolve the glue holding them on with oil-based makeup remover. It might take a few applications, but I believe this should do the trick.

How can I make my eyelash extensions last longer?

Here are my top tips for making your extensions last as long as possible.

Remove all forms of oil from your beauty routine. That means oil makeup removers, oil serums, oil-based moisturiser, oil-based foundation etc. Oil dissolves the glue that holds your extensions on. So avoiding oil will help the glue stay intact.

Try not to get them wet too often. Getting your eyelash extension wet within the first 48 hours prevents the glue from setting correctly and your extensions will fall off. After this, you should be mostly okay to wet them. Just know that water, especially hot water, can reactivate the glue and cause multiple lashes and extension to stick together. This becomes a problem if one lash falls out and all of sudden you’ve got a loose lash and extension hanging off a lash that is still intact. Basically, it will force the still intact lash to fall out. Your fallout rate has essentially doubled (or tripled even). So avoid water where possible and if you do wet them, always gently brush them through after.

Try and sleep on your back. I know this one is easier said than done, but it makes a difference. Sleeping with your face in a pillow tugs and rubs your lashes and extensions as you move in your sleep. Don’t be surprised if you wake up with a pile of pulled out lashes in your pillow.

Try not to put mascara on them. Wearing mascara on your extensions increases the likelihood that your extensions will be exposed to water and oil, which we’ve established is not a good thing.

Pick the lightest type of extensions. The lighter the extension, the less weight you have tugging on your lashes, encouraging them to fall out.

Opt for shorter extensions. Again, shorter extensions are lighter which means they’ll last longer.

Don’t tug at your extensions. Your lashes are delicate and just a small pull can rip out your lashes. Tugging at your extensions can pull your lashes out.

If combing them, don’t pull or apply too much force. This is the same situation. It only takes a little bit of force to tear out a lash. Be very gentle when combing

If you find multiple lashes or extensions glued together at the base, don’t try to separate them. You’re more likely to pull lashes out than separate anything.

If a lash and extension fall out but are glued to a lash that hasn’t fallen out, try and gently trim the piece that has fallen out. This will eliminate the extra weight tugging at your intact lash.

If you find that one extension has turned backwards and is curling the wrong way, trim it. Avoid pulling at all costs.

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Are eyelash extensions worth it?

Again, there is no definitive answer for this. I adore the look of them. Not having to wear a scrap of makeup but still looking made-up and polished is such a time saver.

Wearing lash extensions made me feel pretty and having a regular beauty appointment is a quiet, little luxury that added some regular relaxation to my life.

That said, the upkeep is pricey. You need to be prepared to spend potentially $100 per month for maintenance.

You also need to handle them like a glass slipper. No more roughly washing your face and no more freely shampooing your hair. You need to sleep differently and change your moisturiser. It’s a lot of work trying to keep them looking good.

In the end, the kicker for me was the water. I’m a bit of a beach bunny. I live on the sand in summer. When it came to summer time with my extensions, I’d either have to avoid swimming altogether or deal with my extensions falling off left, right and centre. So I said I would stop having them done in the summer months, but it’s been a year now and I still haven’t bothered to go back.

I would definitely get them again in the colder months. I feel like they made a real difference to how I felt about myself, plus they allowed me a little more time to sleep in in the mornings.

For me, they were worth it, just not in summer.

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Mia Steiber

Mia Steiber is a journalist at finder.com.au with a serious shopping habit and an addiction to gold jewellery. Her talents include tracking down one-off or almost sold out pieces and knowing the sizing charts for just about every brand.

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