As a cosplayer, there’s nothing more annoying to me than trying to apply false lashes. It doesn’t matter how many YouTube tutorials I watch, or how many different techniques I use, I simply cannot get those little fuckers to sit in the right spot and stay in place. After a particularly exasperating makeup test before my last con, I decided that I couldn’t deal with false lashes anymore — but layering on the mascara wasn’t gonna cut it either.
My friend Ashley once mentioned how she had gotten eyelash extensions before her wedding. I found the whole idea of ’round the clock voluminous lashes, without the need for mascara or falsies, to be incredibly alluring. The day before my convention, I decided to take the plunge and get extensions. I made calls to multiple salons, but no one could fit me in. I was beginning to give up hope when I finally found the one (if only I could emphasize this with a choir and beams of light.) My amazing lash technician, Jessica — more on her later — completely rearranged her schedule so I could get my lashes in time for the convention.
The First Appointment
I went in to the whole experience not knowing what to expect. For some reason — don’t ask me why — I was anticipating something akin to the barren decor and bleakness of a doctor’s office. However, what I was greeted with upon entering her suite was a wonderful smell (something Scentsy related I think) and a “shabby chic meets Instagram” style. She told me to lay down on the table (which was covered in an adorable faux fur), and scoot my head down to the end where she could reach me. The first thing she did was ask me what kind of lashes I wanted. Since I was doing extensions instead of falsies, I told her I wanted something as dramatic as possible — and boy howdy did I end up with some drama worthy lashes.
She started by using gel pads to weigh down my lower lashes so they didn’t get in the way. Though I was smart enough not to wear eye makeup, she did have to remove some of my foundation because it was so heavy it wasn’t allowing the gel pads to stick to my skin. She cleaned both my lashes and lash line, and then got down to the nitty gritty. Since lash extensions are applied one by one to your natural lashes, it’s a long process. If you’re getting a full set (like I did), the first appointment will take at least two hours. Anything less than that is a major red flag — it means the technician isn’t properly isolating each lash before applying the false one.
As she worked, she warned that the glue itself wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) hurt, but the fumes from it might cause my eyes to burn a bit when I opened them. To combat this, she offered me a handheld fan to blow the fumes away, and everything was hunky dory. We chatted about music, family, work, etc. It was a lot like getting my hair done, except slightly more relaxing because I was laying down with my eyes closed the whole time.
After she was done, she had me look in the mirror. I was flabbergasted by the transformation. My regular short, blonde lashes were now long, thick, black, and curled to high heaven. I felt doe eyed and ultra feminine. After we both admired her handiwork, she offered me a paper containing aftercare instructions. The biggest no-nos were getting the lashes wet in the first 24 hours, using regular (non-extension safe) mascara, and using oil based removers, moisturizers, or cosmetics on or around the eyes. She then told me that it was very important that I cleaned my lash line regularly with a cotton swab and diluted baby shampoo after the first 48 hours. If not, natural oils and bacterial build up would not only cause the lashes to fall out more quickly, but could also result in an infection.
For about two hours after my first appointment, I was convinced I’d fucked up royally. The lashes felt cumbersome, a bit like wearing falsies that weren’t quite sitting right. As I ate sushi with a friend, she kept asking me if I was alright. I was practically blinking in Morse code. Eventually, though, I stopped noticing them altogether, and they began to feel as natural as my real lashes. I haven’t had an issue since, even after a fill.
Living With Eyelash Extensions
The first thing I noticed about the extensions was that I no longer felt the need to wear eyeliner. The lashes themselves were dark enough to give my lash line that “put together” look. That, combined with no longer needing to curl my lashes or apply mascara, cut about 10 minutes from my morning makeup routine, which was pretty damn nice. The second thing I noticed was that I always felt ultra glamorous. Straight out of bed in the morning — glamorous. Midnight snack-time — glamorous. Sitting here writing this in ratty Star Trek jammies — glamorous.
There were other things that took some getting used to, though. I had to make a habit of carefully cleansing my lash line, and combing my lashes with a spoolie in the morning and at night. I couldn’t just go to town when removing my makeup anymore, I had to be gentle with the lashes so as not to break them (and my natural lashes) off. Also, I couldn’t sleep on my stomach. And I like sleeping on my stomach, damn it.
As the weeks went by, my natural lashes began to grow out, and extensions started shedding. Every morning spoolie session meant more lashes in the sink, and a piece of my heart went with each one. I realized pretty quickly that there was no turning back — I was going to get a fill and this was going to become a regular staple of my beauty regimen.
I saw Jessica three weeks after my original appointment for a fill. She had allotted an hour for the work, but because I lost so many lashes, it ended up taking an hour and a half. We agreed that from here on out, I should do fills every two weeks instead of three. She asked me about my convention (it sucked), and we chatted about our favorite television shows. Laying there, eyes closed, scooted so far to the end of the table that the crown of my head rested on her pregnant belly, I came to the conclusion that I could get used to this. Eyelash extensions are an excellent addition to my self-care routine. They provide the perfect opportunity for a bit of sensory focused mindfulness, and are incredibly relaxing.
But, they’re not for everyone.
What You Need to Know
First of all, eyelash extensions will punch your bank account straight in the throat. The initial session will cost $100-$300 (in Boise), and the fills run $40-$100. Anything cheaper than that is yet another red flag.
Just like a tattoo artist, finding the right lash technician is a must. After all, your eyes are sensitive and you don’t want to fuck around with them. Look for someone who is certified. A certified lash technician will have been properly trained to apply the lashes without damaging your natural lashes or your eyes. Furthermore they will use professional products that are less likely to cause allergic reactions. Read reviews, go through portfolios, and ask questions. You can read more on finding the right technician here.
There are lots of horror stories out there about people having their natural lashes ruined by extensions. This kind of damage only occurs if the lashes are not applied properly — or if you pull them out yourself. The lashes will grow out, but if you decide that you don’t want the stragglers, your technician can remove them without destroying your natural lashes.