In a world where being a women requires so much maintenance… hello hair color, manis and pedis, laser hair removal, microblading of eyebrows, getting facials… it can all seem so overwhelming. Many women get the above services done to make their lives easier, feel good about themselves, or to just look polished and put together. Women get lash extensions for the same reasons. Once you get a set you never want to go back to the old boring lashes you were born with, but what exactly are lash extensions and how do you, as an artist or client, know which ones to choose and why?
Eyelash extensions is the art of applying individual hairs/lashes to already present natural eyelashes in order to create a more defined lash line. This can mean creating longer lashes than what is already present, fuller lash lines, or more curl to add a pop. Getting eyelash extensions should also create symmetry to balance out facial features or enhance a client’s features. There are three types of eyelash extensions that are the most commonly used: mink, faux mink, and silk. What’s the difference between the three? The main difference is what they are made of; whether they are made of real fur or synthetic hair. I’ll break it all down and how they differ from one another.
What are eyelash extensions made of?
Mink lashes come from the tail of a Mink animal, usually the Siberian Mink or Chinese Mink. Although they offer a light and fluffy “natural” look, these lashes are not cruelty free, and because they are real fur, they are not curled so you would need to continue to perm the lashes or curl them in order to maintain the desired look. Mink lashes also come with a hefty price tag which is why they are not as popular as they once were. The good news is, you can achieve the same look with other types of lashes, without doing any harm to animals and without breaking the bank. Volume lashes with a .05mm diameter or smaller will provide a soft fluffy look that mimics that of real mink fur, while also not harming cute furry creatures.
Faux mink eyelash extensions are the most popular extensions used by lash artists right now. They are made of a synthetic material, (poly-fiber), therefore offering a lot of versatility. Faux mink lashes come in a variety of lengths, diameters and curls, allowing you to truly customize and tailor the lashes to each client. These lashes have good flexibility and are often very natural looking depending on the length/thickness chosen. They are also low maintenance compared to real mink as the curl is permanent, and does not require continued tweaking to maintain the desired look. For these reasons both clients and lash artists love faux mink lashes.
Silk lash extensions are usually thicker with a bolder black color. I would reserve these types of lashes for a special occasion or for those clients who like an ultra dramatic look, (side note: you can still provide lots of drama with faux mink volume lashes). Silk lashes also come in a variety of curls and lengths, but the curl tends to be less consistent than the faux mink extensions.
How do you decide which lashes are best for you and your clients?
The lashes you choose to use on your clients will depend on what their lashes can hold, what type of look they want to have, whether they need them for a special occasion, or even their age can be a deciding factor. More mature clients tend to not want noticeable lashes while younger clients might want a little more oomf. Whatever the choice is, the beauty of getting eyelash extensions is that you can customize a look for each client and there are plenty of styles to choose from. When selecting lashes it is important to take into account the look your client wants, will her natural lashes hold the lashes, and if not, what is the alternative? Going shorter can create a more dense and thicker lash line while longer lashes can look wispy and flirty. If you are applying volume lashes, how many extensions in each fan will look good or hold well? It is good to understand the math of volume fans. For example, the weight of a volume 5D 0.07mm fan has the same weight of a classic 0.20mm extension. A 4D fan of the same kind weighs as much as a 0.18mm classic lash. 3D weighs as much as 0.15mm and 2D equals the weight of a .12mm lash. To achieve larger fans with more lashes or “dimensions”, you wants to select a thinner lash, such as 0.05mm or 0.03mm thickness. Understanding different eye shapes is another topic I will touch on in a future blog, but this is a major key in determining not just length and thickness, but the curl. Using different curls can camouflage imperfections and create the most flattering look for your client. I like to tell my clients that lashes are like clothes. You want to choose what will make you look your best, not what is trendy at the moment.
Can you use mascara with eyelash extensions?
The answer to this is yes and no. Although most individuals get eyelash extensions to avoid wearing mascara there are those clients who still don’t want to put the wand down. If a client insists on using mascara, it is important that they use one that is safe for lash extensions. One that is water based and oil free. It is also important to let clients know that although the mascara is safe for the extensions, it is added wear and tear on the lashes from putting it on and taking it off, therefore affecting the retention of their eyelash extensions. I do not recommend wearing mascara with volume lashes. As lash artists we work so hard to create those nice fluffy fans, and when mascara is applied over the fans, it closes them making them look like classic lashes, or worse, clumpy. To remove the mascara, an oil free makeup remover is best with a makeup sponge or bare fingers. Using cotton balls or pads can snag the lashes and pull the out as well as leave cotton fibers in the lashes.
How do you remove eyelash extensions?
Eyelash extensions must be removed by a professional, just as they are applied by one. I’ve had clients tell me they will try to remove the extensions themselves with some type of oil and I always ask them to come in. If a client tries to remove her own lashes, chances are she will pull out her own lashes, or worse, cause damage to her eyes.
There are two different ways to remove eyelash extensions. One way is to use an adhesive remover which is a solvent that will dissolve the adhesive bond between the eyelash adhesive and the natural lash. Once the bond is broke, the extensions slide right off. The other way is to use your tweezers to remove the extensions one by one, the way you would remove a grown out extension during a lash fill. Depending on how many extensions a client has on, or how fresh the set is usually determines which method will be best. Using the solvent is faster for someone who has a lot of extensions left, but it does require a bit more caution as you want to avoid getting the solvent in the client’s eyes. When using the extension remover, you will tape your client’s bottom lashes down the way you would if you were about to apply lashes. Once your client’s eyes are closed you will tell them to make sure to keep them closed. I prefer to work on one eye at a time, instead of going back and forth, just I case the client doesn’t listen and squints or opens her eyes. I use a makeup sponge wedge and place this between the tape and the client’s lashes. I then apply a gel remover to the lashes away from the base so as to not irritate the client’s skin and use a flocked tip applicator to work the remover around the extensions. Within a minute or two the extensions begin to slide off. Once all the extensions are removed I thoroughly rinse the eye with saline solution. First with the clients eye remaining closed, then just a little in the eye to remove anything that could be left around the eye area. I repeat this on the other eye and voila! -the lashes are removed.
To remove extensions with tweezers you need to work with a pair of tweezers in each hand. With your non dominant hand, or whichever feels more comfortable, you will use that tweezer to grab onto the natural lash. With your other hand you use that tweezer to bend the extension back to break the adhesive bond. This method takes a bit of practice as you need to apply just the right amount of tension to the natural lash while removing the extension.
Got any pro-tips for applying lash extensions?
- If you are going for longer extensions, you want to scale back in thickness and diameter in order to balance the weight applied to the natural lashes.
- If you want more fullness and density then you will want to extend the lash by only 2mm. This also balances the weight of the extensions to keep the natural lashes healthy and strong.
- Keep the adhesive at the base of the lash line so the weight is concentrated at the strongest part of the lash. This does not mean a pool of adhesive at the base of the lashes is okay. Clean isolation is still a vital part to lash health.
- Make sure lashes remain separated and are free of stickies so as to not cause premature shedding or interruption to the lash cycle.