Today I had a conversation with one of business friends, well more of an acquaintance. Naturally, we got on the topic of lash extensions and she mentioned how much she loved them but that she had to take a break because she was missing so many of her own natural lashes from the last time she got them done.
Her story of getting lash extensions only for them to fall out and cause her to have less natural lashes than she did before she came in was one that I had heard before, but not directly. It got me thinking…is that what people think? That natural lashes are damaged from getting individual lashes? A quick Google search and I found it…a trove of articles warning about the cost of lash extensions. Being an insider, I knew what was really going on.
To fully understand, you have to know that there’s no single way of doing lashes (tabbing, individuals, clusters, etc.) and also over a dozen widths, lengths, etc. There’s also 3 types of lashes on everyone (Telogen, Anagen, and Catagen) which require different extensions. No one salon/spa/studio does them exactly the same, and that is where we run into problems.
Basically, some of these “styles” or application types can cause damage to your lashes, and some cannot. Most casual customers don’t know the difference between the application process or the pros and cons of getting volume, clusters, etc. Let’s break down the pros and cons of each shall we?
Tabbing is an application process that’s very quick and very inexpensive but has some serious consequences. It’s very common at nail salons, multi-service hair salons, and independent lash stylists. If you see a place that says “$15 lashes” it’s guaranteed to be tabbing. Tabbing is somewhere between strips and real lash extensions. 3-5 synthetic lashes, attached to a tab, are placed along the skin at the base of the lash bed using a semi-permanent adhesive (sometimes even nail glue). These are lined up across the lash line creating a very dramatic look. Because they line the skin itself they only last about 4-5 days due to the oils from your skin and the cheap adhesive used. They also block the hair follicles blocking the natural growth of new lashes and stunting existing ones. Finally when they come off, they usually take a few natural ones with them because they are so heavy. They may also feel like they’re “pulling” on you which can be painful. Also painful can be the glue which is so close to your eye and can cause serious irritation since it’s actually touching your skin. While this may be okay once for an event, long term wear (or just a few applications) can really cost you your natural lashes.
PROS: Cheap, Affordable, Everywhere.
CONS: Only 4 day retention, cause lash fallout, will stunt your new lashes coming in, can be painful and seriously irritating to your eye, not waterproof or sweat proof.
Tabbing is definitely hurting the industry because most clients don’t know the difference and assume that the pros and cons are the same with all application types!
Stacking / Capping Lashes
Stacking is where a technician takes multiple full size lash extensions and literally stacks them on top of your lashes. This is not to be confused with Volume where multiple small volume lashes are adhered to the same regular size lash. This is NOT that. These lashes are usually large, full size, and causes severe weight and stress on your natural lashes. Also, to accomplish this requires much more glue/adhesive making it even more heavy. Most clients have no idea whether their lash stylists are stacking, but should ask.
PROS: Cheaper, gives a thick glamour look
CONS: Will damage your natural lashes, extra glue can cause “pulling” and eye irritation, retention time is less than half as long as individual lash extensions.
Individual EyeLash Extensions
The most natural and comfortable way to wear lashes but not without it’s issues with application. The process is simple. A light single synthetic lash fiber is attached to a single natural lash. It’s not too close to the base, so it won’t be anywhere near your skin. This cuts down on any irritation. Because the fiber is so light, it won’t weigh your lashes down. Most individual lash glues are permanent and so the extension stays on your lash and falls out when that lash naturally sheds. Sounds simple and great right?!?
Not so fast. The issue comes with the styling. As I mentioned above we have 3 types of lashes, each a different length (Anagen are baby lashes and are thin and short, Catagen are medium lashes, and Telogen are long thick lashes). If a lash client demands, or a lash technician creates, a style where you use the same length (usually a long length) or a wide lash extension (to give a thick mascara look) on every single lash that means you’re putting long and/or thick lashes on big lashes (telogen), medium lashes (Catagen), and even small baby lashes (anagen) that may not be able to support it! This weight difference can cause your lashes stress in that smaller lashes with much heavier extensions can pull or cause premature shedding. Basically the small lash just gives up.
When you see a business that has “Styles” they show you a look where the lashes may be long in the middle and shorter on the edges, or vice versa. The real issue with that is that in order to achieve such a look, you’d have to ignore what the customer’s natural lashes look like. You’d inevitably have to put long or thick lashes on short and thin natural lashes, or vice versa.
The best course of action is to ignore the “styles”. They’re a marketing gimmick anyway and can cause undesired consequences. Look for salons that do the 3-lash technique. This is where your eyelash technician uses 3 different sizes of lashes (short, medium, and long). They place the short extensions on YOUR short lashes, medium extensions on your medium natural lashes, and long extensions on your longer lashes. The “style” is now you! This technique gives you an enhanced version of yourself instead of a one-size-fits-all generic style. All of the extensions match your natural lashes but make them longer, more curly, darker, and denser.
PROS: Moderately priced, last as long as your natural lashes, little to no irritation, natural looking, no damage to natural lashes (if using the 3-lash technique), waterproof & sweat proof.
CONS: Takes 1.5 – 2 hours the first time, generic “styles” can cause stress on your natural lashes, technician experience varies greatly
While Volume is something different, I did want to address it as some of this may be confused with Classic Volume. Volume is where you take 3-5 thinner (small diameter) extensions and attach them to a single lash. This does not weigh the lashes down like stacking or tabbing as volume is done with .05mm-.07mm lashes (to put in perspective, a regular single lash fiber can be up to 5 times as large at .20mm) so these volume lashes are very very thin. But using several of them in place of one larger regular individual extension can create a very full and dramatic look without weighing your lashes down, with no issues with retention, etc. Volume is a great way to enhance an individual lash service.