There’s no question that lash extensions can give you full, long, enviable lashes in just a few hours. But is near-instant gratification worth the discomfort, safety risk, expense and ongoing care of aftermarket lashes? Let’s explore the process.
Lash extensions offer that full-lash effect by being glued onto your individual lashes. It can be tedious, but the hope is that they’ll stay in place until your natural lash reaches the end of its cycle and falls out. This natural process can take anywhere from six to eight weeks, which is why lash extensions have to be refilled or reapplied fairly often. More on that later!
The lash fibers designed for extensions are usually made from mink, silk or a synthetic material known as “PBT,” which stands for polybutylene terephthalate (plastic). The chosen material impacts how natural your lashes will look, and also the price of application and upkeep. While mink extensions are often preferred, those passionate about supporting anti-cruelty initiatives should think twice about the ethical implications.
Mink lashes are not cruelty-free or hypoallergenic, but silk extensions are. Silk comes with the risk of overpaying though, since some salons have known to use synthetic (PBT) fibers instead of the real deal. It’s tough to know what you’re getting, so if the idea of gluing plastic fibers to your natural lashes gives you pause, you’re in good company!
Regardless of which material is used, the application process is the same – and it’s a serious time commitment. On average, initial application for a full set of lash extensions takes between 90 and 150 minutes, and refills can take upwards of an hour. The process typically isn’t painful, but it’s uncomfortable for most because you have to lay still and the glue can cause stinging, burning and watering.
While these short-term side effects usually resolve quickly, the adhesive and materials used (including plastics) can also cause discomfort days or weeks after leaving the salon. Discomfort can arise anytime because lashes grow at different rates, so just one little out-of-place lash can create heaviness, tugging and itching. You may be tempted to rub and pull to alleviate the feeling, which only adds to the sensitivity. The outgrowth period has aesthetic drawbacks, too, since it’s pretty obvious you’re rockin’ those falsies.
What are the safety risks?
Healthcare professionals agree that the biggest risks associated with lash extensions are allergic reaction, infection, irritation and/or inflammation. And allergic reactions go beyond the natural lash fibers like mink and silk. You can also react to other components, like the synthetic fibers and the glue, which can contain harmful chemical ingredients like formaldehyde.
Even small amounts of glue can have serious and painful consequences when exposed to the eye. Redness, oozing and crusting aren’t pretty and they can be tough to remedy quickly. While the risk of irritation and infection is highest when the application process is compromised, it can happen anytime during daily wear because extensions can trap dirt, oil and bacteria against your lash line. It can also interrupt your natural growth cycle. Not to mention that the added weight of the extensions can trigger traction alopecia, weakening your natural lashes and inhibiting healthy new growth.
The risks aren’t limited to just lash extensions. Any treatment in your eye area should be approached with the highest level of care and consideration. For example, many salons offer tinting services to help lashes “blend” with the extension fibers, but this is another watchout. The FDA cautions against using lash dyes because there’s an inherent risk of blindness and the result just isn’t worth it, especially when mascara delivers the same result and takes just seconds to apply.
They cost how much!?
The average cost of lash extensions starts around $150 and only goes up from there (specialty options can be $350+). To maintain the look, refills are usually needed every two to three weeks, which typically start around $50. It’s up to the stylist whether they’ll recommend a simple refill or a new set, which can be even more costly. And if you don’t stay on top of your lash routine, things can get hairy fast. Uneven shedding, twisted shapes and crimped-looking curls create an unnatural look as the faux fibers grow out.
On top of the service cost, many salons try to sell special cleansers, serums, mascaras and eyeliners designed to prolong the life and look of the extensions. This puts an even bigger dent into clients’ wallets and doesn’t change the need for frequent refills.
What does ongoing care entail?
After spending all that money on lash extensions, you would think getting ready would be even easier. But in reality, lash extensions are pretty high maintenance. For example, even though they’re touted as “waterproof,” you aren’t supposed to get them wet for up to 48 hours after application. That means no steam rooms, sweaty workouts, rainy days or showers.
After that first 48 hours, salons caution against rubbing or touching your eyes, suggest brushing your lashes every morning and evening with a clean spoolie brush, and recommend sleeping on your back so your lashes don’t rub against the pillow and cause them to fall out. This is a tall order for side and stomach sleepers who love their beauty sleep. Salons also warn to avoid any oil-based products like cleansing oils and makeup removers, and encourage clients to use an extension-specific foam cleanser (which is an added expense).
What’s the best alternative?
This is where we shine! The simplest way to prevent the risk of infection, irritation, discomfort, or damage is to avoid lash extensions altogether. If you want thicker, fuller-looking lashes without help from mascara, a lash serum that helps your natural lashes grow is the answer. And even better? A proven lash serum with elastin replenishment.
As we age, our bodies produce less new elastin and we start to see changes like fine lines, hair thinning, and sparse lashes and brows. While lash extensions can seem like an “easy” fix, there’s a more natural, more convenient, risk-free way to reclaim what time has lost. Our best-selling LASH Follicle Fortifying Serum with Elastaplex® introduces a new source of elastin that helps delay the look of aging and promotes healthier, fuller-looking lashes.
Ultimately the safety of lash extensions isn’t a sure bet. If you decide to get them occasionally, make sure your esthetician has a valid certification and practices good hygiene – like frequent, thorough hand washing and the use of disposable gloves that are changed between clients and services.
At the end of the day, we believe the natural look is always the most beautiful option. And while we know waiting can be tough, most customers see the results of our LASH Follicle Fortifying Serum in six weeks or less. Since they’re your natural lashes (but better), the results are painless, long-lasting and get even more breathtaking with every use.
Our entire collection supports the body’s natural ability to stimulate the replenishment of elastin while defending against matrix protein damage caused by aging, stress, sun exposure, weight changes and other factors. You can try NULASTIN risk-free because every one of our products is backed by a 100% Performance Guarantee. If our product(s) do not perform to your expectations, you can exchange or return them at any time [Terms and Conditions Apply].