Thinking about eyelash extensions? Check out the pros and cons!

Your natural lashes shed and the extensions will shed right along with them.

As we age eyelash follicles can slow or stop producing new ones altogether. In order to solve this byproduct of aging, many women are opting for eyelash extensions. Should you, however, do a little homework before deciding to go with this beauty trend? Eyelash extensions do come with their fair share of pros and cons.

What are eyelash extensions, how are they applied?

Let’s not confuse eyelash extensions with false eyelashes. The extensions are individual fibers–not a strip of lashes–that are glued to natural lashes one-by-one or in small groups to enhance the eyes. The lashes are typically made of synthetic fibers like nylon. Some lashes are also made out of silk and even real mink.

The lashes can be applied by an aesthetician or technician who will use two pairs of tweezers, one that will separate your natural lashes, and the other will grasp the extension. The lash is then dipped into a semi-permanent glue, and applied to the top of the natural lash. The bonding process should only take a few seconds.

The extensions are customizable, and on average, each eye will take about 40 to 100 lashes depending on how much volume the customer wants. The total amount of time spent on the entire lash extension process is about two hours to three hours.

How long will the extensions last?

Your natural lashes shed and the extensions will shed right along with them. It takes about a month and a half for natural eyelashes to regrow. Since each lash extension is attached to a single eyelash, they will fall out naturally along with the natural growth cycle of each lash.  Since the extensions will fall out, they should be touched-up every three to four weeks for a more fuller look. If you ignore the lash upkeep, you will look weird!  Your lash line will look full in some areas and sparse in others if you don’t get a touch-up.

How much care do you need to exercise with the lashes?

There is a certain amount of lash care you will need to follow when getting extensions. You should avoid steam and wetting your lashes for the first 12 to 24 hours after the initial application or after touch-ups.  And, when you’re able to shower, it is recommended that you blow-dry your lashes on a cool setting, and with a little spoolie brush.

You will also need to avoid using oil-based products and heavy creams around eyes because they tend to loosen the glue and cause the lashes to fall out more quickly. Using mascara on the extended lashes should also be out of the question because it will make them heavy and cause them to break.

Rubbing the eyes is a no-no because you will cause lash breakage.  Crying should also be avoided during the cure period (12-24 hours) of the lashes because doing so, can spread the glue and lead to irritation but afterward, you can boo-hoo to your heart’s content!

Sleeping on a silk pillowcase is also a smart move in order to avoid drying out the lash extensions or the lash snagging that can occur with a regular cotton cover.

If you wear makeup and use a remover, only apply one that is oil-free around the eyes.  And speaking of makeup, eyeshadow and even eyeliner (stay away from gels and creams) can also be applied with the extensions in place as long as it is oil-free and removed daily.

Will lash extensions damage natural lashes?

Not really! If the extensions are properly applied, they should not ruin the health of your natural lashes, but there are always exceptions. Make sure to not tug on the extensions as doing so, will cause damage to your natural lashes.

How safe are eyelash extensions?

Most of the issue surrounding the extensions have to do with the glue used to bond the lashes which can contain formaldehyde or other chemicals that can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) sites the following dangers of using eyelash extensions:

  • Infection of the cornea
  • Infection of the eyelid
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Temporary or permanent loss of eyelashes

In addition to the aforementioned complications, some people actually lose eyelashes in the process of trying to make them look more voluminous. The frequent use of extensions can damage the hair follicles responsible for eyelash growth and maintenance.

Other, less common, complications with eyelash extensions include tweezer wounds, reactions to solvents used to remove the extensions, and allergic reactions to the tape used to hold your lids closed during the procedure.

Some clinicians also believe that the extensions can increase your chances for developing dry eye. Longer and fuller lashes can create a fan-like effect with each blink thereby increasing air flow on the surface of the eye that can cause dry eye symptoms, according to Deepinder Dhaliwal, M.D., professor of ophthalmology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Are eyelash extensions costly and how do I shop around?

The cost of applying eyelash extensions can range from upwards of $200. Beware of those technicians who are charging substantially less because you might just get what you pay for in the long run!

If you are contemplating getting eyelash extensions make sure that the aesthetician is certified and working at a reputable place of business. Watch out for the sanitary practices used at the establishment.  Does the aesthetician wash her hands and are the materials used, sanitary?  You might also want to check out the ingredients on the eyelash adhesive packaging before proceeding with the procedure.

Finally, if you experience an infection or allergic reaction after receiving the eyelash extensions, contact an eye doctor immediately!