May 30, 2013 6:04 pm
Updated: May 31, 2013 8:36 am

Eyelash extensions: what you should know

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EDMONTON – What woman doesn’t want long, luscious lashes? From mascaras to lengthening serums and re-usable fake eyelashes, there’s no shortage of products on the market that promise to do the trick. The solution more and more women are opting for lately, though, are eyelash extensions.

“It really just fills in that eye line and makes the eye pop. And for some women, it really gives a lot of confidence,” says Laurel Sweetnam of Laurel’s Lash Studio.

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However, what many may not know is that this is an unregulated industry. Anyone with a pair of tweezers and some glue can put them on; so if you’re not careful, instead of getting gorgeous lashes, you could end up with none.

Having heard the horror stories, Egzona admits she was a little nervous about getting her eyelash extensions. She chose to go to Lash Affair to test them out before her wedding.

After choosing from three different types of lashes (synthetic, mink, and silk) and a number of various styles, she was walked-through the application process.

Courtney Buhler taped down Egzona’s lower lashes with collagen hydrating gel pads, which double as an anti-wrinkle treatment during the procedure. After putting on some lash primer to remove any oil or makeup residue and ensure the extensions stick, Buhler began placing them onto Egzona’s natural lashes, one by one.

“The most important thing with lash extensions is that they’re properly isolated so that when they grow out, and as they’re growing out it’s comfortable for you,” she explained.

The key to that, she adds, is leaving a small space between the extensions and eyelid to give room for the eye to swell.

When it was all finished nearly two hours later, Egzona couldn’t believe her eyes.

“So amazing, can’t stop staring,” she said with a laugh. “I swear I have mascara on.”

Being able to ditch the mascara is a huge draw for many women who get eyelash extensions. For those who can’t seem to live without it, there are special mascaras, eyeliners and makeup removers that are easy on the extensions.

But bride-to-be Sonia, who got her eyelash extensions at Laurel’s Lash Studio, is looking forward to less maintenance. She says the finished product exceeded her expectations.

“They look so real,” she gushed when she first saw them. “Feels like my natural lashes, just more voluminous and amazing.”

“I just put 120 extensions on her and could have kept on going. I have some clients I put on 40 eyelash extensions on and that’s all that they can handle,” explains Laurel Sweetnam.

She worries that others that provide the service aren’t as careful, though, and would like to see the industry regulated.

“Heard about one, she said that she learned it on YouTube,” says Sweetnam. “And this woman came in and probably 60 to 70 per cent of her natural lashes were gone.”

Crystal Grimoldby had a similar experience, except her lash loss occurred after deciding to stop getting the eyelash extension fills due to the cost and time involved.

“I was noticing that when they had basically all come out, I had none of my own eyelashes left,” she recalled. “They were basically just little short stubbies that you couldn’t even tell I had eyelashes. So I had to wait about four or five months before I saw my own length back to normal.”

Like Sweetnam, she would like to see some guidelines put in place.

“In the States, they have to be either a nurse, or have gone to esthetics school for two years. They have serious training,” Sweetnam says. “Here in Alberta, we don’t.”

Health Canada has more information on the only guidelines that do exist in Canada.

Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about eyelash extensions:

What to look for when getting them:

1. The training/qualifications of the person who will be applying the lashes.

2. A guarantee so that if there’s a problem with the lashes within the first few days, you can get a complimentary touch-up or fill.

3. A portfolio – the place you choose to have the service should ideally have a website or Facebook page that shows pictures of their actual work, not images they pulled off Google.

4. A variety of lash extension types so that you can get the ones that are best suited to you.

Red flags:

Avoid what are called “cluster” eyelashes, which are sold as a group of lashes tied together at the base with a knot.  The knot is placed on your natural lashes, giving it a very full look. Both Sweetnam and Buhler say the knot being glued onto your lashes doesn’t allow your natural lashes to shed naturally, causing tugging and pulling.

“In extreme cases,” says Buhler, “if women wear clusters or semis for months on end, they can actually lead to semi-permanent follicle bald spots, thinned out lashes and it takes them months, if not a year, to grow back.”

Other than ensuring that you’re getting single lashes, make sure the glue that’s being used when applying your extensions is actually meant for your eyes.

Buhler says she’s seen people come in with nail glue or crazy glue that their normal remover wouldn’t even break down.

How long do they last:

Buhler say lash extensions are designed to shed with your natural lashes; and lashes from the baby stage to the point they grow out do shed every 45 to 60 days.

But the lash extensions will not last that long.  Your lash extensions will likely start to look patchy and have gaps after a couple of weeks, so most women have them filled every two and half to three and a half weeks to keep them looking full and natural.

Buhler explains that the durability will differ depending on your lifestyle.

“For example, women who like to do hot yoga every day, or women who like to swim in the pool a couple times a week – they’ll have a harder time with lash extensions than someone who just sits in an office…and is never really hard on their lashes.”

Lash Affair also carries an after-care line, which includes a sealant that’s supposed to extend the lifespan of the extensions. It’s recommended for those who are expect to sweat lots, either from activities like hot yoga, or from being in a tropical climate.

“Oils are the number one enemy of lash extensions so if you use your sealant, every time you put it on, it adheres the bonds,” Buhler says.

Types of lashes:

Synthetic – the most basic kind of lash which is also the least expensive extension type.

Silk – tend to be very popular as they are the “darkest, richest black,” says Buhler. “They provide the fullest overall look and kind of that deep mascara look.”

Mink – preferred by women “who are wanting a really natural lash look, and…a softer black.”

Cost:

Prices can range anywhere from $80 to $250.

Alternatives:

After trying eyelash extensions, Crystal Grimoldby now uses Stimulash, a $90 eyelash growing serum available at most drug stores that she claims has given her longer lashes.

“Within about three months,” she says, “my eyelashes were…quite long, people were asking me ‘Do you have extensions?’ And I don’t.”

With files from Julie Matthews, Global News

Follow @TrishKozicka

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