Every girl shares the same dream: to wake up looking refreshed and gorgeous. The key to this natural splendour? Doe eyes framed by long, luxuriant lashes that suggest small woodland creatures help you get dressed in the morning, whistling while they work. Reality, alas, is less idyllic. Thank goodness for eyelash extensions: individual faux lashes that are glued to your natural ones. They not only add length and volume but also keep your morning beauty effort to a minimum.
“Lash extensions make you look vibrant and polished without your having to do anything,” explains Natalia Jakimtschuk, general manager of the Village Wellness Spas in Toronto. “They are ideal for someone who’s looking for low-maintenance beauty that is long-lasting as well as instantly gratifying.” Lash extensions may sound too good to be true, but, like online dating, success is all about managing expectations. “If you have short, thin and weak natural lashes, you won’t get a Kardashian look,” says Jakimtschuk.
Since the length and thickness of your natural lashes dictate the “weight” they can hold, you need to build on what you’ve got. Individual extensions range from seven to 14 millimetres in length and are made from synthetic materials, which look more realistic, or natural silk or mink, which is more lightweight. Polina Rotar, a Toronto-based certified Xtreme Lashes technician, explains that she generally uses a range of seven to eight different lengths and between 110 to 130 individual lash extensions per eye (a process that costs about $250). This isn’t a treatment for those who are easily bored; you’ll have your eyes closed for so long that you’ll be able to mentally categorize your shoe closet by colour, style and designer several times over.
Plan on a minimum of two hours for your first time on the table. You will also need to invest time in upkeep by getting a fill (which takes 30 to 60 minutes, depending on how extensive your look is) every four weeks or so to replace the lashes that have grown out. Although you can keep getting your lashes filled, Jakimtschuk recommends letting the extensions fall out after nine months to give your natural lashes time to recover. “Extensions and mascara both add weight that your natural lashes have to support and carry,” she explains, “but you don’t sleep, shower or swim in your mascara 24-7.” Jakimtschuk also encourages women to use a keratin-enriched revitalizer daily to help nourish natural lashes. And to avoid damage, Veronica Tran, the founder of Toronto lash bar Pretty in the City, says that it’s important to add only one extension per eyelash.
“Your lashes grow at different times,” she explains, “so if you have a group of them clumped together and glued to one extension, it could end up pulling out slower growing ones.” As for the fine print? Tran warns that a very small percentage of women (less than 1 percent) have an allergic reaction to the eyelash glue, which usually shows up within the first 48 hours. Even though a reaction is unlikely, Tran advises ensuring that your specialist places the extensions about two millimetres from the skin on your eyelid so that the glue doesn’t touch your eye at all.
Booked laser eye surgery? No problem, says Tran. Just get the all-clear from your doctor before scheduling an appointment, usually about a month post-surgery. On the maintenance front, Tran, a long-time extension wearer, has a definitive list of no-nos: no eyelash curlers, no waterproof mascara, no smooshing your face on your pillow and no sleep masks. (No face smooshing! Got it?) And remember: If you treat your new additions well, they’ll stick around longer. Use an eyelash comb from time to time, and don’t rub your eyes. Avoid wearing mascara. (Trust us: You won’t need it.) Skip waxy eye pencils that are hard to remove and opt for a liquid or shadow eyeliner instead. Use an oil-free makeup remover with a sponge-tipped eyeshadow applicator.
As Rotar points out, taking your time is key: “You can’t be careless or scrub your eyes roughly. You have to be considerate.” Such attention to detail seems a small price to pay for a fabulous flutter.