I'm only a couple weeks into my eyelash extension experience, and the worst thing that could have possibly happened did: I really, really, really love them. Which means I now have to make the decision between maintaining them (and shelling out cash on the reg) or going back to mascara and the occasional (fury inducing) faux lash application.
Before I tell you which way I'm leaning, know that I've actually been toying with the idea of consulting an eyelash stylist for quite a while now. My pale lashes are sufficient, but I never leave the house without mascara and I wanted an enhancement that would let me walk out the door with zero fuss. I've tried over-the-counter eyelash growth serums, taken daily biotin supplements, have experimented with luxury mink faux lashes and the cheapies, and have tested countless mascaras.
Mascara will forever be a dear friend of mine, but before I got my extensions I didn't realize quite how much of a nuisance its been in my life. It smears, clumps, runs, and is a PIA to wash off. And heaven forbid you sneeze or flinch mid-swipe. There have been many a bathroom swear sessions because of my mascara.
Choosing A Studio
I surveyed what was available near Phoenix, where I live, and came across several lovely options. I ultimately decided on Amazing Lash Studio in Arcadia, which was clean and bright, and full of professional, down-to-earth staff.
My eyelash stylist was so patient and clearly knew what she was doing. She answered a bajillion questions I had, and carefully walked me through which type of lashes were best for my facial features, preferences, and lifestyle.
This particular studio offers four main styles — gorgeous, natural, sexy, and cute — and you can mix and match to customize the perfect look for you. I explained to my eyelash stylist that I wanted full lashes with dramatic length, but I didn't want them to be too dense or too fake-looking. Enough to be noticed, but not so much that it felt like I was wearing a costume. She recommended we go with the "gorgeous" style with lighter, wispier individual lashes.
The Application Process
OK, you guys. I honestly had no idea what I was in for with this. I expected it to be a half-hour ordeal, so imagine my surprise when I was told to budget for at least two hours for the application. And yes, it took every single minute of those two hours to complete both eyes.
Before the lashes are applied, you lie down on a cushioned massage-style table. Then your eyelash stylist tapes your bottom lashes down to prevent gluing the top and bottom lashes together (feels so weird), and places an under-eye patch over the tape.
For the next 120 minutes, the stylist will apply individual eyelashes to your lid one and a time. If you're wondering why it takes so long to complete the process, it's because humans have about 150 eyelashes on each upper lid.
I must admit that this process was a little difficult for me. Some people can apparently sleep through this, but I was very awake — and blinked often — the entire time. I was feeling anxious about what I'd see in the mirror, so when we were finally done I could hardly stand the wait any longer! My eyelash stylist removed the tape, applied some eyedrops, and then handed me a mirror.
Brace yourselves: I was not prepared for how awesome these things would look. I was instantly hooked.
Afterward, I was given a huge list of do's and don'ts. For example, I was told I couldn't get my eyelashes wet for 48 hours. That included hot yoga and the steam room (not that I do those things), washing my face, swimming, and taking extensive showers. This is because your lashes need 48 hours to "cure" and water disrupts that process. After two days pass, you're free to splash around and do as much steamy yoga as you want, though.
My stylist also advised against sleeping on my stomach and on my sides, but my body does what it wants at night. For what it's worth, I haven't followed this advice and my lashes are still bueno.
To keep your lashes looking pretty, you need to wash them twice a day with a foam cleanser (after the 48-hour period), and brush them daily. "Fills" are recommended every two to three weeks, and involve replacing the eyelashes that fall out naturally (about two to five a day).
I love these eyelashes. People have noticed, and I actually do feel more confident and put together since getting them. I am still shocked every time I hop out of the shower and see what looks like a full face of makeup staring back at me, and I love that it's reduced the amount of time I spend getting ready. It's truly crazy how much of a positive difference they've made in my life.
That said, at approximately $80 for a full set and $50 for a monthly fill (as a consistent member at a studio), the biggest con for me is the price tag. I did the math, and even when wearing my most expensive favorite mascara — Chantecaille's $72 Faux Cils Longest Lash — you still spend more on extensions at the end of the year.
Additionally, the two-hour, up-front time commitment is a hefty one. You also have to find time to refill every few weeks, which takes around an hour. Some may consider that time away thinking about (and doing) nothing, a reprieve, though.
Despite the splurge factor and the time commitment, I plan to maintain my lash extensions. They've truly made my life easier, they make a major visual impact, and they make me feel really beautiful.