Eyelash Extensions—The Good And The Not So Good 5/25/13
By Lilian Foreman
Lately we have been bombarded with bad press about eyelash extensions from one of our local TV stations here in San Antonio. I usually don’t watch much news but this just seemed to hit too close to home since my staff of lash stylists at Indulgences Hair and Body SalonSpa are a group of trained estheticians as well as expert lash stylists with years of combined experience.
The growing trend went from a few lash stylists around the country that were trained and tightly regulated by not only the lash suppliers but the lash stylists themselves to new state regulation that requires all lash stylists practicing to either have been grandfathered in through the companies that trained and certified them in lash extensions or to be an esthetician trained in lash extension as part of the cosmetology school curriculum. You would think that this would really protect the industry standards but instead it has created another loophole and lack of education by the schools. As an extra elective in the cosmetology schools, the student can take eyelash extensions, makeup or air brush makeup. For that they are eligible for certification as a lash stylist, which makes sense.
In reality, we are seeing such a variation of what individual lash extensions actually are and the problems associated with them are mounting as is the bad press. Individual lash extensions are just that. Individual synthetic or natural hair lashes that are attached with a specialty eyelash extension glue that is safe to use in the eye area by trained technicians. Lashes are applied 1 mm away from the base of the lash (and the skin). Before application, there is a formula to calculate how long and thick a lash can be that is applied to the natural lash without causing damage to the lash and follicle. If the lash is improperly applied, the base of the lash will poke the eyelid skin, the glue will irritate the skin or the lash will twist and turn tangling with each neighboring lash. The extension will break with either scenario, the lashes hurt and make you want to itch you eyes out. The worst is that the lash breaks off at the base because of the weight which can cause various other problems too.
Unfortunately the schools call individual eyelash extensions a cluster of 4 – 6 lashes in a group that are glued to the lash area.. The bases are too heavy and overlap. Often they will come off as a long strip taking the clients lashes off too. Classes are taught but the true experience and correct education is far from reality. Most of the cosmetology school instructors are not lash stylists with certification from the companies that supply and develop the lash extensions. When clients call us for help it is usually too late. Often the eye area is swollen from the irritation from the glue or the lash base poking the skin. In many cases the person applying the lashes has not educated the client how to take care of the lashes and clean them properly to get rid of makeup and debris that will naturally collect at the lash base and they develop an eye infection requiring a trip to the doctor.
When searching for a lash stylist, ask around and look around at other people’s lashes. Are the lashes individual and natural looking? Is the eye area normal and not irritated? How was their experience during and after application ? Did they experience a burning sensation from the glue and the fumes. What did the care instructions consist of? If you had a bad experience how did the stylist deal with it? Did they pull the upper and lower lashes apart without carefully separating them one by one? Did the lash stylist recommend specialty products that were to be used on the eye area and on the lashes such as eyeliner, makeup remover and mascara? What certification and training have they had?
Individual eyelash extensions take time to apply initially and are not cheap either. You need to maintain them with fills every 2-3 weeks depending on your own lash shed. A bargain price that you may have been quoted may turn into a nightmare costing far more than the initial application. If you cannot afford to have them done properly or to get refills but you really like the look, then we suggest doing the old fashion strip lashes or false eyelashes that are applied with lash adhesive. They require removal and reapplication daily but, you will at least have nice lashes at a fraction of the cost and without certain side effects.