The Lengths I've Gone to For Lashes
Hello and welcome to a bit of a different blog post. I guess you could call it my first "Beauty Blog". Disclaimer: I am not in the lash industry. However, estheticians (and cosmetologists) are technically the ones with jurisdiction over this area. I get asked a lot of questions about lashes by my own clients and I like to stay informed. In the past two-ish years, without even really meaning to, I've now tried just about every variety of lash treatment on the market. It's a bit of a strange thing, because I am lucky to have pretty long lashes naturally. Up until two years ago, I barely wore mascara because I didn't really feel like I needed to. I still don't, actually. But if anything, I feel like my test runs of these various lash practices are that much more objective. I've been trying these things mostly out of genuine curiosity and now I'm here to tell you about my various experiences! Let's talk lashes, shall we?
Last fall, a couple of months before my wedding, a fellow esthetician friend went to lash extension training and needed a practice model. I happily volunteered and was quickly addicted. Lash extensions are quite the process, so you really want a pro with a solid reputation, if you decide to get extensions. What I've learned from my friends who do lash extensions, is that everything matters in terms of type of lashes, brand of glue, technique, etc. Lash extensions can come out looking amazing or they can come out looking downright scary, depending on who you go to and what they use. Let's put it this way: be choosy about who you let near your eyes for a couple of hours at a time. You want someone who is patient and detail-oriented, with a steady hand.
So what happens exactly when you get extensions? The lash artist selects individual lashes (the "extensions") and glues one (or two, depending on technique) to your natural lash. These then grow out along with your natural lash and fall out with them as well. If you want to maintain your lashes, you need to get them refilled every couple of weeks, so as to keep them looking full and natural.
The Pros: If done well, lash extensions look amazing. They catch peoples attention. They look good on camera. They accentuate your eyes. When I had mine, I barely felt like I needed to wear makeup. I loved them so much that I kept them up through my wedding and a little after. I think lash extensions are perfect for special occasions, or when you just need a little extra kapow for your confidence. It's definitely a pampering experience to get to lie down for a couple of hours on a cozy lash artist's bed. Many will let you zone out or listen to music, or even fall asleep. Some may find the appointment length to be a turnoff, but I really enjoyed my lash appointment days because the opportunity to rest during an otherwise stressful time, was very much welcome.
The Cons: Lash extensions are high maintenance. Not only do they cost quite a lot. (Prices vary depending on where you live and how experienced the lash artist is, but expect to pay around $200 minimum for a legitimate full set of lashes.) After that, you need to maintain them by getting refilled every approximately two weeks. Three is stretching it, if you don't want to annoy your lash girl or get charged for a full set again. A fill averages about $80 per visit. It's also very much on you to care for them, once you leave the appointment. You need to clean them regularly and brush them out carefully. (They get tangled or can twist in weird directions as they start to grow out. You just have to gently comb them back into place.) Rubbing your eyes, sleeping on your side or anything rough around the eyes can cause them to fall off prematurely. Lash technology is rapidly improving to the point that the lashes are rarely heavy-feeling, but they can feel awkward at times.
In school we were taught this service, which is popular for a little temporary lash-enhancement. Tinting is just what it sounds like. A semi-permanent tint that gives your lashes a little added pop. A lash tint takes about 10-15 minutes start to finish and lasts for about 1-3 weeks.
Quick. Easy. Temporary. You won't need to wear mascara with a tint, as that's essentially how it acts - like a semi-permanent mascara. If you have blonde or otherwise light lashes, tinting might be all you need to draw attention to your eyes.
Depending upon the dye and also upon your natural lash color, the effects may not last all that long. If you have dark lashes, they will not necessarily appear darker, though they may have a sleeker, shinier look to them.
Fiber Lashes were my first foray into the world of advanced lash lengthening. I was uninterested (then) in real lash extensions. So when these were billed as a more natural and budget-friendly alternative, I was all on board. I was sold on Cherry Blooms Fiber Lash Mascara after listening to a podcast with the creator and wanted to try it immediately. Cherry Blooms is an independent company based out of Australia. I loved the idea of natural ingredients but also the idea of "brush-on extensions" on an as-needed basis.
How fiber lash extensions work is, you first coat your lashes with a natural gel solution that is mostly bees wax. You do about 20 strokes on each side. Then you do the second step, which is the fibers. About 15 coats to each side. The result is very long, but natural (and full!) lashes.
The Pros: I believe there are some knock-off type products on the market now, that aren't as natural looking, but as far as Cherry Blooms goes, I thought my lashes looked awesome. People frequently asked me if I had lash extensions on days when I wore the mascara. It's also pretty easy to take off at the end of the day. The product has a longer shelf-life than regular mascara due to the natural beeswax and antibacterial properties in the transplant gel.
The Cons: At the time, spending $40+ on what still basically equated to mascara, seemed decadent to me. Now I look back at that compared to other the options and laugh. But if you're not laughing, I get you. Again, I'm of the mind that this might be more of a special occasion thing, and as a result I tended to hoard my Cherry Blooms rather than use it and enjoy it. I will also reiterate that other lash fiber extensions I've seen can look rather awful - clumpy and spidery. Make sure you read reviews and see actual photos of the product on lashes before you invest in a product like this.
Lash Growth Solution:
I confess, I definitely never thought I would find myself trying a lash growth solution. For years I've heard women rave about these products. I've seen a handful of clients who use these products and have lashes for days. But I was nervous about what seemed like a fairly unnatural thing.
What happened was this. On my honeymoon in Europe I was on the hunt for cult beauty products to bring home and stumbled upon Kiko Milano cosmetics. I was not in the loop about this brand prior, but they are an Italian makeup company that also has stores all over Paris. Near the end of my trip, I wanted to check out one of their shops. I didn't really need anything but you know how it goes. I think I was trying to spend the last of my Euros, so as not to have to exchange them. Anyway. I remembered that I needed some mascara. After being completely overwhelmed by their selection, I decided to go by wands. I believe the wand is really the key to a good mascara anyway. I spotted a wand that looked perfect but was surprised to learn that it was actually a lash growth mascara. It boasted thirty days. At this point, I was far enough into my lash journey that curiosity got the best of me. And anyway I'm a sucker for a challenge.
The Pros: After we got home, I completed thirty days of pretty consistent use (I think I missed two days) and continued to use it after that because I still just loved that wand SO much. Not only did wearing mascara every day (because I "had to") boost my confidence, but after about 35 or 40 days I did start to think that my lashes looked longer. I noticed it most in my bottom lashes, since those are shorter and easier to notice a change in. I think my lashes might have grown even more, had I applied more of the product daily. I only needed a couple of coats to achieve my desired effect, but had I done more, I might have gotten even more mileage.
The Cons: Of course, the downside of falling in love with anything from across the pond is paying for it at three times the price to get it in the states. Especially if you want to maintain your results. Discontinuing use of any lash growth product, pretty much immediately results in your lashes going back to their original length. With Kiko's products, this doesn't amount to anything too steep. Just $12. But in order to qualify for free shipping, I needed to spend a little more, so I also purchased the accompanying night serum and am presently using both on a semi-regular basis. Still loving the results and the mascara wand. I guess the only con here, really, is that now I have another shopping addiction. Thanks, Kiko Milano!
The final frontier! Having tried just about all of it at this point, it was only a matter of time before I hopped on the latest trend of lash lifting. Many of my esthetician friends were praising this new alternative to extensions in the form of a semi-permanent and more budget-friendly treatment. Denver makeup artist, Nicole Toledo recently invited me to come try lash lifting and I learned a lot.
How lash lifting works is, only your natural lashes are involved. A roller is applied to the eyelid (the size of the roller, depends again on your natural length. The length of my lashes (with a little help from the aforementioned growth mascara) made me a good candidate for lash lifting. The artist will choose the best roller to accentuate your length and there are different options for shaping them. A solution is applied to semi-permanently change the shape of the lash. Similar to using a lash curler, only a lash lift is designed to last 4-6 weeks with proper care.
The Pros: I love my lash lift! I think it is actually my favorite option thus far, as it only uses my natural length. You can do lash-lifting in tandem with using a growth serum, so all the lift does is really give your lashes a bit of drama. I actually feel like mine look I have lash extensions again, which makes me happy. Another pro is that the actual appointment is much shorter than one for extensions. It was easily under an hour and included a tint. I still got my moment of peace, laying in the beauty chair, too. You can continue to use mascara on top of your lash lift, for added flair. That said, post lash-lift, I don't really feel like I need the mascara, so that could help save you some dollars, potentially.
I also like that I don't have to worry as much about losing precious faux lashes, like I did with extensions. My lashes will just go back to their normal non-lifted shape, gradually.
The Cons: Like all things, lash lifting has to be maintained. Technically lifting requires less maintenance, less often. And it is still less expensive than most lash extension refills. However, the $65 average price might make it more of a special occasion thing as well.
Final Thoughts: I think there are different lashes for different needs. There is no right or wrong way to enhance your lashes. I recommend trying out a few of these and seeing what you like best. And don't be afraid to ask questions before booking any of these services!