It seems like everyone I know has either gotten or is getting eyelash extensions and while I think they look great on others, I prefer more of a natural look. So when I learned about eyelash perm treatments, I knew that I had to try it. This treatment, also known as a lash lift, is much less intimidating than it might sound, and it has actually been around since the early '80s (although the process has become much easier and more gentle as of late, hence the recent uptick in popularity).
An eyelash perm is ideal for people who have naturally decent lashes, but want a little extra oomph without the maintenance of extensions. I'm pretty much the perfect candidate — my eyelashes are decently long, albeit straight, so I am constantly curling them. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my eyelash routine — I gave up on mascara years ago — but I do curl my lashes a few times in the morning to add some extra volume. When my friend told me she was getting an eyelash lift, I knew I had to get one, too. I called up Brow Chic, a Minneapolis-based brow and eyelash boutique and booked a session with their top-notch lash specialist Lynn Carver.
Before I arrived at my appointment, Carver advised me to remove any contact lenses beforehand and to shower ahead of time, since you cannot get your eyelashes wet for the first 24 to 48 hours following the procedure.
When I arrived, I filled out a form listing any allergies and then Carver and I discussed my typical lash routine and the look I was going for to determine the best course of action. I was looking for fairly curly lashes to make my eyes pop, and I also opted to get a tint with my lash lift. We discussed color options as well ( I went with a black/brown blend to tint my brownish blonde lashes). After we agreed on those details, the process began.
Carver started the lash lift by removing any makeup and natural oils around my eyes before applying under-eye pads to keep those pesky lower lashes away (mine always seem to get tangled with my upper lashes, especially in the corners). Carver then determined the best size silicone rod to use to achieve my ideal curl, based on my lash length. Apparently I was right in-between the medium rod and large rod, so we went with the medium rod for a curlier appearance (the smaller the rod, the tighter the curl, much like a regular curling iron).
Carver then used a gentle adhesive to secure my lashes in place around the rod and began the perm, first with a lifting lotion, which makes your lashes flexible and sits on your lashes for a few minutes, followed by a setting lotion, to lock the curl into place and condition your natural lashes. After my lashes had a chance to set, Carver removed the setting lotion with a saline solution, which might sting your eyes a little bit, but it goes away quickly. Then my lashes were dried and the eyelash perm was complete.
Since I was getting a lash tint in addition to my lash lift, Carver then added the semi-permanent dye to my upper and lower lashes, and a few more minutes passed. Overall, the whole process from consultation to finish took about an hour.
I could not have been happier with the results. My stick straight lashes were perfectly curled — which normally only happens after five minutes with a eyelash curler, only to have them fall flat by the end of the day — and a little bit darker, but not too dark. They still looked natural with my brownish blonde hair and eyebrows.
As we all learned from watching Legally Blonde, you cannot get a perm wet for 24 hours after the treatment otherwise the curl will release. The same rule applies to an eyelash perm.
"For the first 24 to 48 hours after the treatment, your lashes are still a little flexible, so avoid moisture for the first day or two," explains Carver. "Since it is a chemical service, we're trying to maintain that pH, and any moisture will change that pH balance, and you won't form that bond in the curl that we're going for."
Avoiding moisture is key — this includes crying, so just to be safe, skip watching This Is Us or cutting onions the same day you get your lash lift (which are two things I did before realizing I was putting my lashes in jeopardy). Aside from some accidental tears, I avoided water for 36 hours after the treatment, utilizing my fair share of makeup wipes and dry shampoo, just to be safe.
Some other aftercare tips include minimizing oil-based products (like face oils and oil cleansers), avoiding waterproof mascara (which Carver recommends doing regardless, lash lift or not), and being cautious of scrunching your lashes into your pillow when you sleep (hopefully I can learn to sleep on my back?). This will definitely be a challenge for me, but I am determined to follow the rules, because my lashes have seriously never looked better.
A lash lift will typically last two to three months, depending on your lash growth cycle, so when the lash sheds, it will come back with your natural texture. Luckily, since the eyelash perm process is so gentle, you can easily get another one two or three months down the road if you want to have those perfectly curled lashes again. I know I will!