Dilemma of the Week: What Are Eye Lash Extensions? Are they safe?

My lashes are so sparse and light that the idea of lash extensions sounds incredibly appealing, but are they safe? What are they exactly?

The concept is great: Think of them like false lashes taken to the next level. They aren't permanent, but they last longer than lashes you apply yourself — from two to six weeks. But you need to have a professional apply the lashes because they are affixed with medical bonding glue. Also, it's not a bad idea to take advantage of the artistic eye of an expert to help you decide if you want a few lashes spread out or several bunched in a cluster. I spoke with Monika Crouch, the lash expert at Pierre Michel Salon in New York City  who explained the process.

 

Here's what to expect:

  • You'll be asked to lay prone on a special bed or reclining chair; the expert will be seated behind you. It's best if you look down or close your eyes completely.
  • In preparation for the lash extensions, your natural lashes will be cleaned and dried to remove any residual makeup , moisture or oil.
  • The expert will grasp a synthetic lash with a sterile fine-tipped tweezer, dip the base of the lash into surgical glue (which should be made of 100 percent U.S. pharmaceutical-grade ingredients that do not contain fumes or formaldehyde — it can irritate eyes) and place it against your lash line. The expert will hold the lash there until it adheres, which takes about 30 to 40 seconds.
  • The duration of the application depends on how many lashes are being applied and how well you can sit still. (Fidgety clients take longer.) Generally, you can expect to spend at least half an hour to 90 minutes with the lash expert.
  • Once the lashes are applied, they may be trimmed to create a more aesthetic or customized shape.
  • The more careful you are with your lashes, the longer they will last. If you rub your eyes,apply moisturizer too close to your eyes or sleep on your face, your lashes will fall out faster. Sweating and active swimming can also give long-lasting lashes a shorter life span.

 

How to Prevent Bad Lash Extensions

It's important to go to a makeup artist who has plenty of experience applying long-lasting lashes, says Los Angeles-based makeup and brow expert Robert Bolanos. "I have seen women come into the salon with badly done lash extensions and the repercussions can be bad," he says. His three main concerns are:

 

False lashes made of horse hair

If you're allergic to horse hair you'll be allergic to the lashes and could possibly have a reaction such as bumps along your lash line which can be extremely irritating. Ask for synthetic lashes just in case.

 

Use of the wrong adhesive

The glue used in lash extensions must be surgical adhesive — the kind used by plastic surgeons — and it needs to be high quality. Bolanos says some people use industrial glue which is used to glue plywood! If that solution gets into your eyes it can cause serious damage.

 

Overuse of glue

Overuse of the glue is another area of concern. If the makeup artist or technician applies too much to the lashes, it can cause natural lashes to break or fall out.

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