Read this article before you get lash extensions!

eye∙lash ex∙ten∙sions  noun  \ī-lash ik-‘sten(t)-shәns\ 1)  single fiber polyester thread-like materials are applied to individual eyelashes to create a fuller, longer,  glamorous appearance  2) a common addiction in the 21st century Lashes, lashes, lashes!    They are everywhere.  When you see someone with “movie-star” lashes, these most likely are not the lashes they were born with.  Instead, these are probably the most popular beauty addiction of 2012—eyelash extensions.  This is a quick solution to give you those long, thick lashes that you’ve always dreamed of.  But, as with every addiction, there is always a downside.  If you are interested in this quick-fix  highly addicting service, you will find that there are some important things you should know before you trust just anyone to apply your lashes.

1)Brand/Ingredients: When deciding which spa, salon, or lash stylist to use, make sure you inquire about what brand of eyelash extensions and products they use.  The products you should ask about include the adhesive, primers, eye makeup remover, under eye gel patches, and the actual lashes themselves.  Are the products made in the United States?  What brand are they?  Do they have a list of ingredients in the products?  If the receptionist can’t answer these questions, find another place to do your lashes with a reputable brand.   Because of the popularity of lash extensions, many salons are now importing the cheapest products from foreign countries.  These inexpensive products do not have their ingredients listed and tend to have potent fumes which can cause an uncomfortable stinging sensation during and after application.  One example of a brand that has a complete list of ingredients and is made in the United States is  called “Xtreme Lashes”, the global leader in the eyelash extensions world.  Their quality products are effective and developed by a nurse. They come with a complete list of ingredients and are safe and non-irritating to your eyes.

2) Proper Sanitization Practices: It is important for any spa to be clean, but when you have someone working around your eyes, it is imperative that the workstation, the stylist’s hands, and the utensils have been properly sanitized.  Notice how the spa has been taken care of.  It is clean?  Ask the stylist how they sanitize their eyelash extensions implements.   Do they use acetone or another proper sanitizing agent to clean the tweezers before every client?  Is there hand sanitizer at the workstation to ensure that the stylist is properly sanitizing their hands before working around your eyes?

3) Training : You may have noticed that there are many “lash spas” or “lash lounges” popping up on every corner.  The state of Washington requires that the lash stylist either be a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist.  Beyond that, there are no other regulations for applying eyelash extensions.  This means that any esthetician or cosmetologist can attempt to do this procedure without any training whatsoever.    Be sure to ask about the stylists’ training.  Did they get trained and by whom?  How long was the training program and was it a “hands-on” program or did they learn by viewing a video?   There are many salons out there that are offering their own “lash training” to other estheticians in order to make more money.  The problem is that these people have never been properly trained in the first place.  Xtreme lashes offers an intensive hands-on training program where the stylists are required to pass their level one class, in order to purchase and use the Xtreme products.  Some Xtreme stylists are “Directory Certified” meaning that they have completed an advanced two day training course in addition to their level one training program.   To be safe, look for a spa/salon with Xtreme stylists who are “Directory Certified”.

4) Experience: In order to do eyelash extensions properly, the stylist must have a great deal of practice before charging for their service.   How many full sets has the stylist completed?  How many years has the spa/salon been in business?  As was stated earlier, any cosmetologist or esthetician can perform this service.  You want to make sure the person you trust has experience before they work around your eyes.

5) Service Time: While many lash places tend to boast that they can do the service more quickly than others, this is NOT a good sign.  The process of applying a full set of lash extensions should take between 2 and 2.5 hours.  The process of doing a quality lash fill should be at least 1.25 hours.  When the stylist has been trained in the proper technique, they isolate each individual natural lash while they meticulously apply an extension.  At this point, the stylist must maintain the isolation for enough time for the adhesive to dry and for the lash to not stick to the neighboring lash.  When stylists go too fast, the lashes tend to stick together and look messy and clumpy with adhesive.

6) Cost: Be careful of places offering very low priced lash extensions.  If it’s very cheap, then most likely you are getting what you paid for—cheap, messy, extensions that will end up damaging your natural lashes.  Reputable and quality brands, such as Xtreme lashes, are costly and this is why spas that use their products must charge more.  As stated earlier, many places are getting their products at low prices and then rushing through the application to save time and money.  This is why they can charge next to nothing for their service.  Look for a good deal, but some things ARE too good to be true.

7) Liability Insurance and a Valid Business License: Do you want someone to work around your eyes who doesn’t carry liability insurance?  Make sure that the lash stylist carries their own insurance, or that they are employed by a spa that has adequate insurance coverage.  In addition, most insurance claims are invalid if the stylist isn’t working with a valid business license (in the State of Washington, this would be a “Cosmetology Shop License”).

8 ) After care products and instructions: When you leave the spa with your new, gorgeous extensions, it is important that you properly take care of them.  This will help you get the most of your lashes so you can go longer between eyelash fills.  Does the spa carry after-care products that you can purchase to take care of your lashes?  These products would include oil-free eye makeup remover and lint free swabs so you can properly clean your lashes and your eyes, which is very important for your eye health.  Some spas even carry special eyeliner and mascara that is compatible with the extensions.  Xtreme lashes has formulated its own liner and mascara which is perfectly safe to use with the extensions.   It is also important for you to be instructed to not get your lashes wet for 48 hours after the initial application.  Some spas will give you a complimentary disposable lash wand so you can properly groom your lashes.

9) Good reviews: Check out the spa’s reviews!  While there are some fake reviews on the internet, you can get a good idea of a spa by the number of Yelp and City Search reviews.  Look for trends in all of the reviews, rather than a just paying attention to a single positive or negative review.

10) Individual lashes on individual lashes: How are your lashes applied? Many spas are getting a very thick look quickly, by adhering more than one lash on each one of your individual lashes.  This creates too much weight on your natural lash, will cause your natural lash to fall out, and will eventually cause permanent damage to your hair follicle.  The other problem with this is that since there is not an individual lash on each lash, it is impossible to properly do a fill.  The only thing that the stylist can do at this point is to simply stack more lashes on the mess, creating more of a mess.  Because of this improper and damaging application, some spas are requiring a complete removal every other fill and then they start “fresh” with a new set.  If you are going to a spa that “stacks” your lashes, you will eventually permanently damage your own lashes.

11) Choosing the proper length and diameter of lash: While it would be wonderful if everyone could choose exactly what length and thickness they desired, it is simply not a healthy choice for your natural lashes.  Because lash extensions are applied to each individual one of your natural lashes, the stylist should only apply an appropriate length and diameter lash to your lash.  For example, if you have very short, thin lashes, it would not be good for your lashes to apply a very long and super-thick, heavy lash.  Your real lashes simply cannot support the length or the weight of that type of extension, and this may cause the clients’ own natural lash to be pulled out prematurely.    You may walk out looking fine, but will notice that over the next couple of days, your lash extension will droop, twist, and probably fall out….sometimes taking your real lash along with it.   On the other hand, if you have long, strong and thick natural lashes…..the stylist can put long and thick extensions on without any problem at all.

12) Style and Design: When the lash stylist is trained with a reputable lash training program, they are instructed to design the lash extensions in a way to enhance the clients’ natural beauty.  These training courses spend a good deal of time training the stylists on how to deal with various shaped eyes and what will look the best.  For example, in the Xtreme course, the stylists are trained to use at least three to four different lengths of lash extensions for each client.   A client should never have the same length used all the way from the inner to outer corner of the eye, as this doesn’t look flattering to the natural eye shape.

13) 100% Guarantee: When calling around and trying to find a good lash place, ask about their policies.   Be sure to find a spa that will stand behind their work, one that really wants you to be happy, and truly care that you are satisfied in the long run.    What hours are they available?  If you have a “lash emergency” will there be someone who can fix your lashes?  Do they offer a guarantee on their lash work?

In conclusion, you can see that there are many questions to ask before entrusting a lash stylist to apply extensions.  Do your research!  You will find that eyelash extensions can be beautiful AND safe when applied by a well-trained lash stylist.
Welcome to your new addiction…….