If the idea of leaving mascara and liner out of your beauty routine this fall appeals to you, eyelash extensions are definitely a splurge worth considering. These semi-permanent add-ons give your eyes definition and pop for up to a month and a half, during which time you won’t even have to worry about raccoon eyes at 4 PM, perfecting your cat-eye or finding a waterproof mascara that isn’t torture to get off. Before you set your appointment, know the basics. Here are seven things you should know before you commit.
They don’t come cheap, but they’re worth it
Lash extensions are no tiny investment of money or time out of your day–they typically take two hours to apply and cost around $140, depending on where you go. (We’ve seen them up to $300 for a full set and as low as $75 for a set of “flirty lashes,” which is 25 to 35 lashes per eye.) Considering the money on makeup and application time you’ll save, they’re a worthy investment for most who splurge. They usually last six to eight weeks, through a full growth cycle of natural eyelashes, during which time you won’t even think about mascara.
They can take a toll on your real lashes over time
There’s no reason getting eyelash extensions (if you get them done properly, in moderation, at a good salon), will compromise your real lashes in any way, it’s only when you keep touching them up repeatedly that you’ll see problems. The British College of Optometrists warned that “repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft.” Just be sure to take a break between extension sets and you’ll stay in the clear.
It pays to be discerning of your salon
An inexperienced pro might apply one lash to three to four natural ones at a time, which could result in clumping or breakage. A quality salon will do a 1-to-1 ratio of one extension per natural lash, and they won’t give you extensions that are too long (which will look funny and could damage your lashes). Just like you would with a hairdresser, do your research with your technician and look at before-and-after photos, reviews and make sure they’re licensed and certified.
There is some after-care involved
You’ll be urged to keep water away from your new lashes for up to 12 to 24 hours after application, as water can compromise the adhesive before it’s dry and ready. In other words, make sure you plan around your summer social activities accordingly. Post-procedure maintenance will change according to the type of glue your technician has used (the glue used on sensitive eyes, for example, can be weakened by any oil-based products around the eye area). For the most part, using waterproof mascara on your new extensions is a no no, since it’s hard to remove and can tug off the lashes.
Your makeup routine will change
You won’t need to, but if you want to wear mascara after you get the extensions, only use it on the tips of the extensions and with a very light hand – using it from root to tip will make it super clumpy. Be very careful when it comes to sticky pencils, and all things waterproof and oil-based. You’re likely to wear a lot less eye makeup after the extensions, but don’t use that an excuse to slack on cleansing your other eye makeup off at the end of the day. If you go to bed with eyeshadow or eyeliner on night after night, you’re asking for gnarly buildup, which isn’t great for your skin or lashes.
They may not look great (or work) on everyone
As long as your lashes are over 3 mm long, you can get extensions put on, but if you have very fine features, thin eyebrows, a delicate jawline, fine hair, etc., eyelash extensions could end up overpowering your face. Most salons have different levels of extensions, so start small and add lashes if you need them. Keep in mind that sometimes the glue just doesn’t want to stick (sometimes that happens if your eyelids are naturally too oily) and they’ll fall off sooner. Our editor tried getting them before her wedding and, no matter how many times the technician tried, they just wouldn’t stick.
Take care of them and you can make them last longer
Keep your paws off! Resist the urge to play with your lashes and they’ll be more likely to stay put. If you have to, fix them with an eyebrow wand, otherwise you could end up tugging more than necessary out. When you’re removing any makeup, pay special attention to the area. Gently go over your eyes with a chemical-free cleansing wipe instead of a cotton pad or puff, as cotton fibers could get stuck in among your lashes. Aside from that, comb your lashes in the morning with an eyebrow wand (when they’re dry) to keep them from getting hectic-looking day to day.