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The first time I laid my head down on a lash technicians bed, I was 18 years old and lured into a salon in Covent Garden with the hopes of Disney princess eyes. For the first few days, I woke up feeling pretty, oh so pretty, and looking alive. That’s in spite of how much I’d drunk the night before or how late I went to bed. However, a week later, I was pulling them out with the fervour of a cat and a ball of yarn. I gave eyelash extensions a couple tries over the next few years, enamoured by the sultry, brightening appearance they so promise, but they never had longevity. I could physically feel them like a veil on my lids and my patience for them hit a week, at most. Cue my boyfriend wandering into a hotel bathroom at 3am, where I was perched on the marble counter top, surrounded by what looked like dead flies but were really lash fibres. It was the stuff of horror movies. And so were my blotchy, bald lids. To save you from such trauma, it’s time to debunk common eyelash myths and set you on the right path.
Lash extensions ruin your natural lashes
Annie, also known as @TheLashProf, trained under the co-CEO of Novalash, Sophy Navarro (Beyonce’s lash lady in Houston). With over 12 years in the business, she tells us that lash extensions themselves can’t ‘ruin’ natural lashes. “But if somebody doesn’t glue down the bases properly or separate them, they’ll fall out prematurely”. Lashes, like our skin cells, have a turn over of about four to six weeks. The duration of your extensions depend on what point you have them done. The tricky part is that it’s pretty hard for us to tell, as our natural lashes are quite thin and unnoticeable as they drop. The extensions however, are thicker and darker, which makes it easy to tell when we see them on our pillow or in our basins. It explains the myth that they cause our real follicles to fall faster.
Everyone can get lash extensions
This popular beauty treatment works by applying adhesive to a strand and applying it on the natural lash, several millimetres from the skin. The more you have to work with, the better. Annie shares with us that oriental Asians typically have thinner and sparser hairs and not a great deal of new growth. That’s not to say that people like me can’t get lash extensions – the whole beauty trend reportedly began in Korea! It’s simply better suited to candidates that can survive a light lash shedding. It’s even more important in this case, to find a reputable and experienced lash technician and not a beautician with a qualification.
The glue is dangerous
While some lash extension patrons have serious latex allergies (or indeed, medical intolerance to other substances in the various glues), those that pass a patch test should have no sensitivity to the glue itself. Annie says that those unfortunate stories are either because the bulb of the glue is rubbing directly against the delicate eyelid, causing abrasion or the use of “cheap lashes, which itch and causes you to rub your eye”, thereby worsening the situation.
You shouldn’t wash your extensions
Like anything you weren’t born with, the keyword is maintenance. When I delved back into the world of beautiful (faux) lashes, learning to take care of them was quick and painless but an adjustment nonetheless. I love an oil or balm cleanser, especially during colder months, but contact with this can destroy glue. Using micellar water (the clear, non-oily kind like Bioderma, Rodial or Garnier works great) to clean up eye makeup is suitable. Annie recommends a small, fluffy brush to mix with a gentle baby cleanser and spoolies. The mini kabuki style tool is to wash in between the strands and the bristled kind is used to blow dry. Yes really – as lashes should never be left clumped together.
You don’t need removal alongside infills
If your first set of lashes have you longing for permanently feathery framed eyes, you’ll need to make sure the top-up is done well. Although you’ll book in and pay for infills, Annie remarks that there’s a lot more to it. “A lot of lash artists don’t clean out the old extensions when they do infills. When you see the bulb at the tip of the lash, they just put new ones in between, because it’ll take longer to remove it. For every client, I remove it via the banana peel method with tweezers, it doesn’t affect your natural lashes. I don’t use glue remover because it’s your eye – I don’t think that sounds safe! If you remove your lash and see traces of glue or can see the bulb, it’s not meant to look like that. There are so many people out there that aren’t doing it right”.
Lash extensions give everyone the same ‘look’
Want that freshly applied mascara look or that dramatic, pin-up aesthetic? Lashes, according to length and curl type can do it all. The caution here is what Annie calls the ‘Instagram-look’, which means she sees individuals that choose lashes too heavy for them. This is also known as Russian Volume, which gives that winged-out appearance and almost no semblance of a water line. “The problem and why lash people get a bad rep, is because the clients want [that]”, which results in the use of heavier fibres and visible bulbs of glue. It’s also not suitable for every shape, especially if you’ve got hooded lids, as it only serves to narrow the eye.
The bespoke look is also a specialty of The Lash Prof, who has all five star ratings on Google (including one from me) and has opened at Glow West, a salon in the chic neighbourhood of Queen’s Park. “There are different curls, C, D, J and JC. C curls sit completely flat, if you have a hooded lid, it won’t look pretty. You need something that sits lower, so it goes out then curls up. I use all the types, so it looks super natural. I use the darkest, thickest and the best without it being heavy. On Instagram, you’ll see the girls that get really long, 16-18mm lashes (which looks 3D) and I don’t do that.”
‘Real’ hairs are better than synthetic ones
Back in the early Noughties, Madonna pretty much put mink lashes on the map. However, most lash extensions are polymers and it’s better off that way. “They’re really expensive and do you really want real animal fur on your lashes? Compared to a synthetic polymer, it’s going to attract dirt. The most durable is synthetic,” Annie says. And here’s one of the greatest myths of all, when salons brand their treatments as cashmere, silk or mink, it likely refers to a certain look of the extension and not its composition. Annie tailors her own soft yet firm lashes. For example, the typical ‘cashmere’ lashes that have a wispy, flared tip is created by pinching the base and fanning them out manually.
Check out Annie at Glow West