We Tried It: Eyelash Extensions
You know that woman who's always complaining about her super long eyelashes? "My eyelashes are just so long. [Insert disingenuous expression.] They always keep hitting the lenses of my sunglasses. [Insert fakey-looking expression of dismay.] It's so annoying."
Not as annoying as you, lady. I think we all know someone like this. (My baby sister, are you listening?) I imagine the woman in this scenario also complains about how heavy her thick, wavy hair weighs on her neck, and how hard it is to get good help. If face-smacking weren't a crime -- but I digress.
Well, now you too can strap on some super long eyelashes and join the life is so Le Hard misery of the Women Who Look More Fabulous Than Is Fair (And Know It) crew. Nope, not talking about falsies. Those are for amateurs. These are honest-to-goodness eyelash extensions. Meaning, they stay on for weeks and actually look real (depending on how crazy you go with the length).
Lustrous, long eyelashes not being one of my assets (Why, God, why?), I was extremely excited about beefing up my sparse, pale brown, inferior ones with extensions, so off I marched to explore the realm of glamour, and here's how that went.
What: Although she's certified by Lash beLong, my lash expert, Veronica Garrido, uses Longmi Lashes. "The glue is great, it lasts long, the extensions aren't heavy and they don't tend to bother people," she told me. Another thing that makes these extensions desirable is that they can be customized to vary in texture, color, length and degree of curvature. In English, that means you can experiment with va-va-voom lashes or a more natural look.
Who: I went to see professional stylist, makeup artist, licensed aesthetician and eyelash expert Veronica Garrido who, as it happens, sometimes works out of Los Angeles' Double-O Salon, which, if you'll remember, is where I had my hair extensions done by the equally talented and lovely Guenevere McHugh.
As mentioned, Veronica is also certified by Lash beLong, a company that both creates extensions and trains state-board-certified cosmetologists and aestheticians in the art and technique of lash extensions.
Getting them attached: Like I said, my own eyelashes aren't anything to brag about, so Veronica had to use a fair amount of lashes to fill in the gaps. Since I wasn't going for the full glam look, she chose a medium length, with a more natural curl and none of those sparkle thingies at the tips.
To get the lashes installed, you lie down on the standard, sanitized aesthetician bed, face up, with the big, illuminated magnifying mirror hovering above. The process took about an hour, and -- I'll be honest here -- was a bit unnerving. In order to keep the eyes totally protected from the semi-permanent, non-comedogenic glue she uses to attach the lashes, Veronica puts sticky eye pads on the lower lashes (pulling down the lower lid as well), and while these didn't in any way hurt, they felt ... odd.
Getting them removed: Back I went onto the aesthetician table, and back came the lower eyelid/lash sticky pads. Adhesive solvent is then gently stroked down the lash line. Like the adhesive, the solvent is safe, non-comedogenic and pain-free. Veronica estimates 30-45 minutes for lash removal, but it only took her half an hour to remove mine.
Lifespan of extensions: Eyelash extensions are marketed as lasting four to six weeks, but Veronica recommends getting them retouched about every three weeks, although this varies depending on the individual and how the lashes weather over time.
As for how long to keep the eyelash extension process going, some women keep them on all the time, for years even. Again, Veronica likes to err on the safe side (another point in her favor), and instead advises taking a two-month break every six months. "Too much of anything isn't good for you," she told me. "At some point, you have to give your natural lashes a break. Maybe try a lash grower or conditioner that will give your lashes some protein in the meantime."
The lash conditioners Veronica recommends range from the super accessible, as in extra virgin olive oil (from your kitchen!) to commercial products like Rapid Lash, which is also advertised as helping to increase lash length.
Caring for your eyelashes: Beauty doesn't always have to hurt, but it can take some maintenance. Here's the drill when it comes to caring for your eyelash extensions: Avoid skincare or eye makeup products containing oil or alcohol; be super gentle when washing your face, meaning don't rub; and go easy on the mascara. That's it.
Price: Veronica has different rates for different parts of the whole eyelash extension process, and after doing a bit of market research, I found that these prices were pretty competitive.
- Application of initial full set: $120
- Retouch: $85
- Removal: $75
Before and after: Here's a photo of my patchy, pale lashes. If you squint really hard, you might just make them out. Er and no, not having extensions didn't make my green eyes blue -- something went wonky with the lighting.
And wow - here is me with actual eyelashes. Note: I am not wearing even a speck of makeup.
One thing to remember is it's important to be realistic with how fluffy you can go with your lashes. Veronica only attaches one lash extension per one natural lash in order to avoid breakage since too much weight can snap the entire eyelash off, which wouldn't be good.
Are you a Beauty Warrior or a Beauty Wimp? Remember this from my story on hair extensions? As great as eyelash extensions look, they aren't for everyone.
- Do you have allergies? That's a big no no for eyelash extensions. Turns out I do have allergies (hadn't even noticed until I tried to rub my leaky eyes through the extensions), so my eyes were particularly sensitive and scratchy-feeling. My loss.
- Are you an eye-rubber in general? Unless you can keep your hands off your face, this is going to be a problem.
- Are you willing to spend the extra time it takes when washing your face or showering? Water can only be splashed gently on the face, and it's important to dab lightly when toweling off. That said, the time you save on your makeup routine more than makes up for the time you lose caring for your lashes. But if you're the truly sporty wash-and-go kind of lady, you may not even care about the above point.
Where to go: If you're in the Los Angeles area, you want the expertise of Veronica Garrido. Mention this story for a one-time discount of $20 off your first set of extensions.