am so lazy when it comes to getting ready in the morning. If I could sleep in my makeup and wake up with a full beat every day, I would (don’t worry, I don’t—I’m a very good beauty editor). So when I first heard about eyelash extensions, it sounded like the answer to all my prayers. Full, long, dark lashes every single day without needing coats of waterproof mascara? Um, yes, please.
And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably also contemplated getting lash extensions a thousand times (for the record, I highly recommend it). But before you book an appointment, you need to educate yourself on the good, the bad, and the annoying aspects of having selfie-ready lashes. Keep reading for all the details you seriously need to know.
Everything You Should Know Before Your Appointment
Are lash extensions worth it?
Unlike gluing a strip of temporary fake lashes onto your lash line, semipermanent lashes are applied by a technician who hand-glues the extensions on top of your natural lashes, says Andra Marin, artistic director and expert lash stylist at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in NYC. Because lash extensions don’t come in a strip, they are super customizable and actually look real. With proper care (more on that later), they can last for six to eight weeks until they naturally fall out like your lashes usually do.
Do eyelash extensions ruin your natural lashes?
There isn’t much evidence that shows whether eyelash extensions actually affect your natural lash length or health long-term. There is, however, a small risk of developing traction alopecia, says Zaina Al-Mohtaseb, MD, assistant professor of ophthalmology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, which is where your natural lashes can fall out as a result of the constant weight of repeated eyelash extensions. But don’t freak—it doesn’t mean it’ll automatically happen to you.
“It usually takes years of bad application and improper care for long-term lash damage to happen as a result,” says Marin. So please, only go to reputable, well-reviewed salons (no matter how good that Groupon deal is), and make sure your technician washes their hands between clients, wears a mask, uses sanitary pillow covers, sterilizes their tweezers, and uses disposable eyelash brushes. And yes, you are allowed to ask your technician to confirm all these things.
Oh, and while we’re on the subject, when making your appointment, ask the salon about the ingredients in the lash adhesive they use. If they can’t answer your question, cancel the appointment (you don’t want inexperienced people sticking things to your eyelids), and if they say the glue contains formaldehyde (a known eye irritant that can cause redness, irritation, and itchy, swollen eyelids), def cancel the appointment. It may cost you a little more, but it’s best to choose a salon that uses “glues made with butyl cyanoacrylate and octyl cyanoacrylate instead of formaldehyde—they’re less toxic to the eye area,” says Dr. Al-Mohtaseb.
How much does it cost to get eyelash extensions?
In New York City, a basic set (typically 70 to 80 lashes per eye) can range anywhere from $100 to $400 plus tip, which is usually another 20 percent. And because eyelashes grow and eventually fall out, you have to go back every few weeks for fill-ins, which can cost anywhere from $50 to $165, depending on how many new lashes you need.
PSA: The longer you go between fill-ins, the more lashes you’ll need to replace and the more it will cost you—and if you wait too long, your technician might just want to give you a brand-new set of extensions rather than a fill-in, which obviously won’t be cheap.
What to Expect at Your Appointment
How do you know what size eyelash extensions to get?
So you want Kim Kardashian–level lashes? Great—but that doesn’t mean your eyes can handle them. “The type of lashes you can get all depends on the length and strength of your natural lashes,” says Marin. “Wearing lashes that are too long or too thick for your lashes can actually cause damage in the long run, so you need to make sure your extensions aren’t too much longer or thicker than your natural lashes.”
If all that sounds confusing, don’t freak—a licensed lash specialist will help you make the best decision for your lashes, including what type of material you should get, like synthetic mink or synthetic silk. Mink is usually pricier, feels softer, and looks more natural; however, some synthetics, which are highly customizable, can also look and feel natural and end up costing as much as or more than mink.