If you’re on a quest for long, voluminous eyelashes, there are a few different routes you can take. The easiest thing you can do is reach for a lengthening mascara and lash curler for your everyday go-to routine. For a fuller and more dramatic look, you can turn to at-home false lashes. But if you want lift, length, and volume that will last longer than a day, there are a couple treatments that seem to be everywhere lately: lash extensions and lash lifts.
The two are very similar, but do different things when it comes to defining the eye area. And depending on what your end goal is, one might be better suited for you than the other.
To get a better idea of how to pick the right treatment for you and your lifestyle, Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes, and Linda Seferoviq, lash expert at Pierre Michel Salon, explained everything you need to know about both.
What Is A Lash Lift?
According to Richardson, a lash lift is basically a perm for your eyelashes. Unlike extensions, the process semi-permanently curls your natural lashes upwards (without the addition of faux fibers).
Seferoviq adds that a lash lift is a three-step process that takes about an hour to complete. First, a perming solution is applied to your eyelashes to curl them upwards. After a couple minutes, a setting solution that helps keep your lashes in place is applied. A couple of minutes later, the pro uses a tint to further darken and define your fringe. Richardson notes that a lash conditioner is sometimes added as a final step to provide moisture and strengthen the lashes after treatment.
What Are Eyelash Extensions?
Lash extensions, says Richardson, involve applying synthetic fibers onto your natural lashes to give them more volume. “Extensions are used to lengthen, contour, and create a curl to the natural lashes, which frame the eyes to the client’s preferred look,” she explains. Seferoviq adds that you can customize your extensions (which are usually water-resistant and long-lasting) since they vary in curl, length, and thickness.
Step one is a consultation, where you will choose a length and style. Richardson advises that your lash technician will help you determine which set is best for your bone structure and lifestyle. Next, you’ll lie on a bed with your eyes closed, and a gel pad will be placed on your bottom lids to prevent your top eyelids from sticking to them.
Your natural lashes are then primed to open up the hair follicles so that the lash extensions will adhere properly. Your lash technician will then use two tweezers, one to hold and isolate each individual lash and the other to pick up the extensions and place them where they need to be. Once the lash extension’s base is dipped into medical-grade adhesive, it’s attached to the isolated lash being held with the other pair of tweezers. The process is repeated until each lash is in place.
Richardson says that this process can take up to three hours to complete. Seferoviq adds that your extensions will naturally shed with your own eyelashes (it’s typical to lose one to five every day), so she recommends getting refills every two to three weeks to extend the life of your extensions.
Lash Lifts Vs. Lash Extensions
Lash lifts don’t involve any extra parts and are meant to just curl your lashes upwards. Extensions, on the other hand, involve adding synthetic fibers to give your lashes more volume.
The aftercare for both is also very different. Richardson says that lash lifts are the more low-maintenance option compared to lash extensions, adding that the only thing to keep in mind with lash lifts is not wetting them for at least 24 hours (Seferoviq recommends 48 hours, just to be safe). After that, you can use makeup – including mascara — around the eyes for a more dramatic look.
With eyelash extensions, there’s a bit more post-treatment upkeep. Richardson says you must avoid steam and getting them wet for the first 48 hours. You’ll also want to avoid the following: rubbing your eyes, using oil-based products, applying heavy creams, picking at them, brushing your lashes too much, swiping on waterproof mascaras or mascaras of any kind, standing under shower heads with excessive force, and using mechanical eyelash curlers. To extend the life of your extensions, she recommends a protective coating to act as a barrier for the adhesive or a heated curling wand if you want a deeper curl.
Something else to keep in mind: Richardson says that your eyelashes must be at least four millimeters long in order to get a last lift. If they’re shorter, extensions are the best option.
Are There Side Effects?
Side effects for both are minimal if performed properly, but Richardson warns that extensions might make your natural lashes shed prematurely if they are too heavy (it helps to ensure your natural lashes are strong to begin with; using a conditioning growth serum is a plus). For lash lifts, she says that the service can cause damage if the perming and setting solutions are left on too long or not cleansed off properly. “Like a hair treatment, you can over-process your lashes,” she explains. “Make sure you do your research and only go to a licensed professional.”
How Do The Prices Compare?
Pricing is all dependent on your location and the expertise of your lash stylist. For lash extensions, Richardson says that the volume is the determining factor, with a more full set being more expensive than one that looks more natural. In general, she says sets can run anywhere from $105-$550.
Lash lifts are less expensive than extensions — Seferoviq says that the average is around $150.
How To Decide Between A Lash Lift & Extensions
One isn’t necessarily better than the other; it’s all about what your end goal is. “Whether you get a lash lift or lash extensions is all based on personal preference,” says Richardson. “Lash extensions will add volume, length, curl, and density. Lash lifts tint and curl your natural lashes up.”
If you need help deciding on which treatment to get, Seferoviq says that lashes that are naturally full and have length would benefit from a lash lift. If your lashes are short and sparse, she’d recommend opting for extensions since they will add length and volume.
“If you are looking to enhance your natural lashes and have no maintenance, a lash lift does the job,” she says. “If you want more volume, tailored lashes for your eye shape, long-lasting, and don't mind the maintenance, lash extensions are perfect [for you].”
Linda Seferoviq, lash expert at Pierre Michel Salon.