Are eyelash extensions the secret to longer, fuller lashes? Or are they a waste of your time and money? We investigated.

By Melanie Rud
October 28, 2019
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Let's be real: There's only so much that mascara can do on your quest for extra-long, extra-full lashes. And yes, falsies are a great option...but they'll only last for a few hours. So when you want show-stopping fringe for weeks at a time, eyelash extensions are your best bet. While the once under-the-radar beauty service is now fairly ubiquitous with salons offering eyelash extensions popping up all over the place, there are still some important things you need to know before deciding if it's for you. Ahead, the pros weigh in on eyelash extensions pros and cons, plus everything you've been wondering about how long eyelash extensions last, how you remove them, and, importantly, how much they cost. (Related: The Absolute Best Mascaras On the Market for Every Lash Look)

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Eyelash Extensions 101

Simply put, they're little fibers that get attached to your existing eyelashes. "Lash extensions are synthetic, faux mink or silk fibers which are applied one at a time to the existing lash using a specially-formulated, semi-permanent glue that will not irritate or damage the natural hair," explains celebrity lash expert Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes.

Why You Might Want Eyelash Extensions

It's a semi-permanent way to enhance the look of your eyelashes, and many people find they are able to forgo mascara altogether after the service. So you get the look you're after and you save some time in the morning to boot—not to mention that it's a great option for events like weddings or vacations. Plus, the application and fibers used can be customized to create any kind of lash you're after, ranging from more simple and natural, to elongated and dramatic, says Richardson. (Related: How to Expertly Apply Magnetic Lashes)

What You Should Consider Before Getting Eyelash Extensions

As with many beauty treatments, it's imperative to find an experienced professional to perform it. "Safety should be your number one concern," says Richardson. "Finding someone who is certified to apply the lashes is a must. Depending on the state, the stylist also needs to be licensed, not just certified," she adds. Don't be afraid to inquire about a salon or stylist and their experience and credentials.

However, once you're over that hurdle, the likelihood of any side effects from eyelash extensions is minimal. There is potential for those with super sensitive or easily irritated eyes to sometimes be allergic to the adhesive used, notes Richardson. Other factors you should consider though, are the time commitment and cost. While the extensions will last for quite a while, the application process can be timely and you'll have to come back to either have them touched-up (every two to three weeks), re-done completely (every month or so), or removed (after about six weeks, if they haven't naturally come off by then). The cost for application, removal, and touch-ups will vary based on where you live, the salon you go to, and the number and type of lashes your getting put on, but, in general, eyelash extensions can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 dollars, says Richardson. Plan on shelling out anywhere from $50-$100 for touch-ups, and $25-$50 if you want them removed completely. Point being, this is one beauty treatment that definitely requires both a time and financial commitment.

How Eyelash Extensions Are Applied

You're going to want to aside some time for this, since getting eyelash extensions can take anywhere from one to two hours (!), depending on the final look you're going for, says Richardson. Silver lining: You'll get to lie down with your eyes closed for most of it, so some people actually find it to be a relaxing experience, she adds. During the application process, the synthetic fibers are carefully applied one at a time, typically 80 to 140 per eye using a specially-formulated, semi-permanent glue and going directly onto the existing hair at the base of the eyelash, not the skin, says Richardson. For context, the average person has about 200-300 lashes on their top lid. (Related: Kerry Washington Swears This $7 Product Made Her Eyelashes Healthier)

How Long Do Eyelash Extensions Last?

"Your extensions will shed with your natural hair growth cycle which is typically every six to eight weeks," says Richardson. They can start to look a little funky a few weeks in, as the eyelash extensions won't all come off at the same time, in which case refills (every two to three weeks) are a great option, notes lash expert Tirzah Shirai, founder of BlinkBar. She advises a new set every 30 days for the best results.

Eyelash Extention Maintenance

When sporting eyelash extensions, you'll have to adjust your normal makeup and skin-care routine slightly. "Proper lash care and maintenance is just as important as the application itself, and a little TLC goes a long way," explains Shirai. You need to keep your lashes dry for the first 24 hours immediately following the application. And you can only use oil-free makeup remover and oil-free eye products, while eyelash extensions are on, she says. Adopt a hands-off policy, too: "The worst thing you can do is rub your eyes, which leads to immediate breakage," cautions Richardson. Other no-nos: Lash curlers are off-limits, and if you are going to use a mascara (which you likely won't need to), make sure it's one specially formulated for lash extensions, says Shirai. These should be a water-based, oil-free formula, as any kind of oil can start to dissolve the adhesive that's keeping the extension attached. One to try: BeautyGarde Oil-Free Mascara (Buy It, $26, ulta.com).

How to Remove Eyelash Extensions

Again, the extensions should naturally come off on their own with your lashes' life cycle, but if they don't, resist the urge to pull them off! This will damage your natural lashes. Instead, go back to the salon and have them removed professionally. The stylist has the tools to do it properly and safely, and the whole process should take less than 30 minutes, says Shirai. As long as you see a trained professional for application and removal and follow all of the upkeep tips, eyelash extensions should not do any damage to your natural lashes. (Related: Will Eyelash Extensions Make Your Real Lashes Fall Out?)

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