The Beginner’s Guide to Eyelash Extensions

The Beginner’s Guide to Eyelash Extensions
Photo: ImaxTree.

When one is too clumsy to apply falsies, and there isn’t enough mascara in the world to lift and elongate, what’s left to do for struggling eyelashes? As of late, the go-to answer is lash extensions. Think of them as a face-lift and makeup application in one, where those wispy little hairs go from wimpy to camera-ready… and stay that way for more than a few days with little effort on your part.

The application process is pretty straightforward, but as with any intrusive beauty treatment, there are certain precautions that should be taken. Ahead, everything you need to know before taking the extension plunge; the pros and cons and how to properly remove them.

MORE: 7 Beginner Hacks for Applying Fake Eyelashes

What Are Lash Extensions?

Think of lash extensions as hair extensions, but for your eyes. According to SugarlashPRO founder and CEO Courtney Buhler, they’re best described as individual synthetic hairs that are bonded to the natural lash. And like the synthetic hair you’d put on your head, they come in a ton of different thicknesses, curls and lengths.

“Lash artists will work with individual eye shape and bone structure to give the most pleasingly shaped lash set. A classic set is the most requested service, and is the art of applying one eyelash extension per one natural eyelash,” says Buhler. “This styling creates a longer lash look for a more open wide-eyed effect. Volume is quickly becoming popular and is a much more advanced method, applying two to six lightweight lash extensions per one natural eyelash. This creates a fuller and thicker lash look.”

The Difference Between Extensions and Falsies

The obvious differentiator between lash extensions and fake lashes is that the latter is typically glued to the eyelid for one night’s use and applied as a strip (though there are individual lash sets, too). And though they’re easy enough to apply in minutes, they also won’t last through workouts, vacations and, yes, even tears.

“Lash extensions are a completely different service which must be performed by a professional. Lash extensions can be customized to each individual with unique styling and shapings,” says Buhler. “Each lash extension is applied individually to each natural lash, ensuring a healthy long-term shed cycle is maintained. The best part about extensions though—is that they last through anything your lifestyle throws at them such as the gym or swimming.”

MORE: The Natural Oils Joan Smalls Uses to Moisturize Her Lashes and Edges

The Pros and Cons

Lash extensions definitely enhance your appearance, and they last long—anywhere from four to seven weeks, to be exact (when cared for properly). They also save you time in the morning because you can skimp out on mascara and spend way less time applying makeup.

On the other hand, the initial application can be time-consuming, taking anywhere from one and a half to three hours, depending on the type of lash set. Additionally, monthly maintenance appointments are usually 60–90 minutes. As such, Buhler says time constraints and a busy schedule are some common reasons why some women don’t have the chance to get them.

In this case, she recommends a lash lift, which only takes around 40 minutes. However, keep in mind that both options will ultimately limit your makeup choices.

“Wearing oily makeup products around the lash line is a no-no, so you may need to opt for a new eyeliner,” she says. “Make sure your eyeliner and primer are free of oils and glycols, as these will break down the adhesive prematurely. With that said though, many women still wear oily products, but make sure to wash with an eyelash-extension-specific cleanser twice a day to compensate for the oils. We recommend LashPure Cleanser!”

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So how exactly are the synthetic hairs attached to your real ones? First, size and styling are selected. Typically, lashes come in lengths from 6 to 16mm, five different curvatures and many different thicknesses. Next, they’re applied one at a time using a specially formulated semi-permanent glue that shouldn’t irritate the eye nor damage the natural lash if used correctly.

“Each natural lash is isolated, and the adhesive stays 0.5mm away from the eyelid skin as the adhesive is approved for hair only and is attached to the eyelash, never the skin,” says Buhler. After that, remember that extensions need regular maintenance.

“The average cycle of a single lash is about 100 days. While some individual eyelash extensions may last as long as six weeks, for best results, it is recommended you refill your eyelash extensions about every two to four weeks as lashes are constantly in different growth stages, and we lose one to five lashes per day naturally.”

MORE: Have Sensitive Eyes? These 11 Mascaras Are for You


The only way to have extensions properly and safely removed is to return to the professional who applied them. They’ll apply a cream or gel to break down the adhesive bonds, allowing the lash extensions to slip off gently, causing no stress or damage to the natural lash. “Never pull or try to remove eyelash extensions alone, as you’re likely to pluck out natural lashes,” says Buhler.

Be sure to follow SugarlashPRO on Instagram for more extension advice.