Are you thinking about eyelash extensions? Maybe you’ve seen a friend with an amazing new flutter, and you’re wondering what they are, how they’re applied, and the different styles available. Perhaps you’re a strip-lash pro, and you’re thinking about that next-level look for a special occasion or… every day. I’ve got the skinny for you right here.

What Exactly Are Eyelash Extensions?

Not to be confused with other types of false eyelashes that you can buy and put on yourself at home, lash extensions are applied with a semi-permanent adhesive to each of your individual natural lashes by a professional lash stylist (or lash artist) in a salon. Lash extensions are typically applied only to your top lash line, and not your bottom lashes. As with everything else, though, there’s an exception to every rule!

Lash extensions can be applied to your lashes individually, or in clusters. You can also get a full set, which means extensions are applied to all of your individual lashes, or a partial set, where the extensions are attached to your lashes from the middle to the outside of your lash line. With recent industry innovations, there’s an ever-wider array of options. It’s all about customization.

Choosing a Lash Extension Material

Salons carry a few different choices of extension material, to suit both your budget and the look you want to achieve. By far, the most common extensions come in mink, faux mink, silk and synthetic. The material you select will depend on a variety of factors, all of which a lash artist will discuss with you first to perfectly customize your lash extensions for you.

What Should You Consider When Selecting Eyelash Extensions?

  • Your eye shape – almond, upturned, downturned, round, protruding
  • The size of your eyes – large, small or in-between
  • Your eyelids – monolids and hooded eyelids have different considerations than other lid types
  • The orientation of your eyes – deep set, wide set, close set
  • Your eye color
  • The qualities of your natural lashes – their length, volume, color and curl (if any)
  • Your preferences – a natural look vs. a glamorous or dramatic look
  • Any allergies or sensitivities you may have
  • Your tolerance for upkeep

What Are The Different Types Of Eyelash Extensions?

At the most basic level, lash extensions are composed of either man-made materials or animal fur. The animal fur choices are mink, sable and fox. Sound like a dreamy fur coat for your eyes? That’s right, honey.

Mink Lash Extensions

Mink lashes come from the tail fur of Siberian minks and Chinese minks. Siberian minks produce the most premium fur, which is, you guessed it, also the most desirable. If you’re a newbie to eyelash extensions, and you want a natural look, mink might be what you’re looking for. It most closely mimics the look and luster of your own lashes. Mink is lightweight and fluffy. The downsides? If you have an allergy or sensitivity to animal fur, you should not consider mink lashes. Likewise, if you have ethical concerns about the treatment of minks, or using their fur, you may decide against it. Mink is also expensive.

Sable Lash Extensions

Sable is even more fine and fluffy than mink. It’s the lightest possible material available for extensions. Lash stylists really only recommend it for those with the finest natural lashes. It’s also not as readily available as mink, so you won’t find it at all salons. The downsides of mink are the same for sable: Don’t choose sable lashes if you have an allergy to animal fur.

Fox Lash Extensions

Fox fur lash extensions are on-trend right now. In their natural state, fox fur lashes are a soft, reddish tone. You can also find them with black tips, or dyed in an ombré style. If fox extensions interest you, be sure to check around. Not all salons have them.

While animal fur lash extensions are lightweight and natural looking, they must be permed to give them a curl. This means they’ll involve some upkeep for you. You’ll need to perm them yourself to maintain the curl. If looking beautiful is all in a day’s work, fur lashes might be for you. On the other hand, if you hate to iron, like I do, and you want to save some money, there are several man-made choices, too.

Man-Made Eyelash Extensions

Want to know the biggest benefit of man-made lash extensions? CURL, baby. Unlike real animal fur lashes, you won’t need to perm them.

Faux-Mink and Faux-Fox Lash Extensions

Yes, you can get the look of mink or fox, but without the hefty price tag. Extension manufacturers have gotten very innovative, and they’re making some feather-weight, fluttery lash extensions that won’t set you back like the real thing.

Silk Lash Extensions

These lashes are called “silk,” but they’re not made of genuine silk, like you would find in a blouse or a scarf. Silk lashes are mid-weight, and for most people, they’re heavier and not as comfortable as the faux-mink or faux-fox options. They’re best for a special occasion look, and not every-day wear.

Synthetic Lash Extensions

Synthetic lashes are the heaviest and least natural looking on your eyes. They have a sheen to them, rather than a soft luster that you would see in human or animal fur lashes. Some people find them to be too heavy for their eyelids.

Volume Lash Extensions, also known as Russian, or XD Lash Extensions

One of the latest trends is volume lashes. With this type of extension, your lash artist will apply 2-6 ultra lightweight lashes to each of your own natural lashes. You can choose either 2D, 3D, 4D, 5D or 6D lash options. Hello, gorgeous. Volume lashes are generally made of silk or mink. A different application method is used than your more traditional eyelash extensions, and so you should expect volume lashes to take longer to apply, and to cost more.

Choosing a Length and Curl Type in Your Eyelash Extensions

Lash extensions come in a range of lengths, and most salons will carry 9 mm to 15 mm. The length you and your stylist select will depend on the thickness or fineness of your own lashes. If you have naturally long, thick lashes, you can wear a longer extension. Those with sparse or shorter lashes might opt for extensions on the shorter end of the spectrum. Most people will land somewhere in the middle – unless you’re all about the drama!

Are You a “J” Curl or a “C” Curl?

Once you’ve decided on a length, you’ll need to choose a curl type. The “J” curl is the most naturalistic style. A “C” is for the girl who wants all the drama she can get. Of course, it’s possible to combine your curls, and get a more dramatic “C” curl just on the outer edges of your eyes.

Asian women typically have straighter natural lashes, and the curl of lash extensions is where you can see a big change in your look and really have some fun.

Did I Mention Color?

Not only are there a ton of choices in the lash extension material, volume, length and curl available, you also have a range of color choices. There’s beautiful black, which never goes out of style. Want to be daring? Go for a full set of colored lashes. Or choose just a few colored extensions to intersperse with a more natural color. You’ll get just a little pop of color here and there, like highlights in your hair.

Most people have between 100-150 lashes on their upper eyelids. That many individual lashes offer stylists infinite ways to customize your look.

A Word on Salons

As you would with your hair stylist, nail artist or other cosmetic professional, make sure that you thoroughly vet your lash salon. It’s no fun when your pedicure smudges or doesn’t last as long as you had hoped, but losing your eyelashes from a bad application? That can seriously mess with your day. Talk to your friends, read reviews, do your homework.

Maintaining Healthy Eyelashes

Lastly, know that long-term use of extensions can damage the hair follicles of your eyelashes. Because the application of extensions involves some tugging and tension, it can weaken or break your lashes. You may want to consider taking periodic breaks from extensions to maintain healthy lashes. You can also use a serum like BeautyGARDE’s damage control lash & brow fortifier.

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