A girl told me once, when lash extensions were first beginning to be all of the rage in LA, that I would never like my face again WITHOUT extensions once I started getting them. And boy, was she ever right! I've been having a long love affair with lash extensions for about four years now, and I figured I'd share with you all of my tips and tricks and do's and don'ts.
My friend Annaliese once said that lash extensions were her number #1 beauty treatment, as in the make the most difference in bang for your buck. And that's certainly true. Time-saving, too - meaning you can do this one thing for your face, and look totally put together without having a stitch of makeup actually on your face. That's always nice - to rock a clear and fresh face and still feel good about yourself.
Let's talk price. Lashes are NOT cheap, as you probably already know. It's time-intensive, detailed and laborious work for a true luxury service. I've personally paid anywhere from "free" (as a model for those learning - do not recommend!) to $90, tip included. And that's super modest pricing. And I've heard of them priced as high as $200 per set in LA for something called ActiveLash, a trademarked service that is supposed to last longer for the sweaty, athletic people. I have never tried it though.
Below is me, around 2014 before I started getting lashes at all. I should point out though, that I did have eyeliner tattooed already on. Now, I have both lash lines micropigmented heavily, and my lashes microbladed as well.
The first time I found ring lighting in an LA area restaurant bathroom.
I remember my first lash appt, actually. It was full beauty/spa day, I guess, because I had my first Brazilian blowout scheduled that day. The hair stylist had performed the service outside his Hollywood Hills home on his balcony, but it still was making me eyes tear up something fierce. So by the time I showed up at some random nail salon in East Hollywood, my eyes were super irritated from the fumes and the chemicals still on my hair. The nail/lash lady kept yelling me to stop crying and I couldn't! It didn't help that whatever lash glue that lady was using - well, it smelled like nail glue. Like, exactly like nail glue. Yikes.
The second place I ever went to was on Melrose in West Hollywood. Since I had a super-healthy lash line, there was plenty of room for attaching for luscious volume.
I was super-poor at the time, despite relocating to Hawaii for the rest of 2014-2015. I loved my new lashline tattoo, which worked well in tropical humidity of Oahu. Lash extensions hadn't quite caught on there yet, and even if I could find a lash artist, I couldn't afford her with Hawaii's exorbitant cost of living. So - I started doing something super-stupid: I started doing MY OWN LASH EXTENSIONS. This is idiotic and something my LA lash artist friend warned me against, but I didn't listen. You can't correctly apply your own extensions in a healthy way. That's because second party needs to examine your lash line (with your eyelid closed) and to see where is a healthy place to attach the extension to the eyelash strand so the artificial hair is not pulling or too weighting down the live hair follicle. If that happens, the lash hair follicle with stop growing naturally and you will have bald spots....and that's what happened to me, trying to cut costs.
You can see the super-irregular lash pattern here from doing my own lashes.
Not only was I being dumb and doing my own lash extensions, I was doing them poorly - with strip lashes (wtf was I thinking) and individual lash glue (which forms like a semi-permanent glass bead bond) *insert screaming emoji here* Here I am, at Long Beach airport which a strip of falsies cemented onto my lash line with individual glue (not the gummy white latex stuff that comes off when you wash your face).
When I realized it was causing major damage (that could be permanent), I knew I had to do something different. Lash extensions are addictive, plain and simple. But I could not afford to hire someone else - nor could I keep destroying my lash line. One of the first beauty entrepreneurs I had known in real life was Courtney, owner of GBY Beauty in LA. I had read an article where she recommended = 1 month of lashes, 2nd month, 3rd month of taking a lash break. She's something of a lash connoisseur, so I began to heed her advice.
Now, I adapted her "lash vacation" routine a bit. I was never big into getting "refills". Normally, the lash tech recommends you come back every 2-3 weeks for never-ending cycle of touch-ups. That's a "No" for me. Too much time and money. I do a set every six weeks- two months, then do the tips below for a couple weeks, and then get another full set.
Lash extensions tip list:
1. Find an artist that cares about the integrity of your lash follicles. Just like there are women that now regret over-plucking their brows and have permanent sparseness, so there will be those with permanently patchy lash line baldness in the near future. I just refuse to be one of them.
1B. Find a lash artist whose work stays put. My current lash artist in Huntington Beach, Em Lashes at Mystique Salon - her work stays put up to two months!
2. Alternate between taking lash breaks, getting good at using falsies + latex lash glue, and using makeup apps on your phone if you have lackluster results in your selfies. I love the free Makeup360 but I also know girls that swear by Facetune, etc.
3. Invest in a quality lash serum that doesn't break the bank to use on your lash vacations. I love GrandeLash because it's cruelty-free and only $30. Don't use with lash extensions though, as the lashes will grow out too quickly. Stay away from overpriced MLM lash serums and know the side effects. A little goes a long way. (I HAVE seen some studies that say that lash growth serums can age you and thin the skin under your eyes, but I am going to pretend that I didn't)
4. Keep your lash serum something where you will remember to apply it everyday. I keep one tube by the bed and one tube in my car to apply when I do my makeup on my morning commute. I used to use the generic Careprost from Alldaychemist.com but it took forever to ship and the bottle came with a tiny makeup brush to apply. The lash serums come in a tube for easier application.
5. Do NOT let your lash artist use lash "flares" aka lashes that come in a bunch of three. They make your lash artist job quicker and easier- and they look positively voluminous- but they are way too heavy for your individual hair follicle. My lash artist just did this to me the other day and I have to talk to her about it. I'm so strict with limiting lash weight and thickness.
Lashes with makeup app, Makeup 360 - basically my BFF during my lash breaks.
6. Do invest in a biotin hair gummy that A) isn't too pricy B) tastes great. Of course, I had to try marketing brainchild Sugar Bear Hair Gummies. Yes, they taste great, but $30 a bottle, they are super overpriced for what they are. My gf Kaitlyn recommended this pink bottle drugstore brand Nature's Bounty Hair, Skin and Nails, but they taste awful to me. I hate waste, but I think I'm going to chuck this bottle. Instead, I found Nature Made adult gummies Multi for Her with Omega-3s. Bottle is huge, tastes great, hits all my nutritional needs and I found them at Big Lots.
Remember, a little Biotin goes a long way for most people and can cause breakouts if overdone. Also, you don't want to supplement with Biotin if you are having laser hair removal (another dumb mistake I made). It will empower the hair follicle to keep growing and not die, especially for an East European like me who already has super-strong hair follicles that just. won't. DIE.
7. Don't apply mascara to lash extensions. If you MUST, apply just to tips.
8. Do use oil-free face wash and shampoo as this can affect lash extension loss.
9. Do bring podcasts and earphones to every lash appt. TRUST ME on this one! You should be able to fall asleep if you have a gentle enough artist.
10. Do put a pillow under your knees on the table to increase comfort and decrease fidgeting.
11. Do keep your lashes dry for the first 24 hours. Some people shower with swim googles but I don't go that far.
12. Do try to experiment with pure castor oil on a spoolie on your lash breaks. Castor oil is a big part of Kiss My Brass's new formula and people SWEAR it makes hair grow like crazy. Try it for yourself!!
13. Do remember that humidity, water and sweat and oil are the enemies of lash extensions. Summer, salt and chlorine water and hot yoga are especially hard on lash extension glue.