Lash extensions—individual lashes glued onto your real ones in order to add length and fullness—are everywhere right now, and for good reason! We answer all your questions about this beauty service.
If you ask most women what their desert-island cosmetics would be, chances are high they’d say mascara. And for good reason: A well-designed mascara wand—and formula—can bestow eyelashes with length and fullness and darken the fringe, which helps make eyes look larger, brighter and overall more noticeable. The major drawback? It’s temporary.
Like Cinderella, when the clock strikes 12—or, in my case, 10:30 p.m.—reality takes shape. Yes, cleansing the day away is an essential skin-care step, but it also strips my wicked long, inky lashes. What’s left? In my case, light-brown lashes with blond tips—pretty much invisible.
That is, until a recent visit to the Visage Yorkville beauty spa for a set of eyelash extensions. Thanks to an Xtreme Lashes service, expertly applied by the location’s owner and master lash stylist, Kyla Garritano, my lashes were transformed into a full, dark and fluttering fringe that wouldn’t wash off at bedtime. I don’t mean to brag, but my lash game has never been stronger; the proof is in my before-and-after shots (above). I think I drank the lash-extension Kool-Aid.
Not sure what eyelash extensions are? It’s a semipermanent beauty service that enhances the length, colour, thickness and fullness of your natural eyelashes by adhering individual synthetic lashes to your individual natural lashes. It gives the appearance of wearing mascara without the messy clumps and smudging.
With a vacation on the horizon and a wedding—where I’m in the bridal party—coming up, now was the perfect time to try Xtreme Lashes, the Rolls-Royce of lash extensions. The brand has more than 15,000 lash stylists in the U.S. and Canada, and every Caryl Baker Visage “lash expert” goes through vigorous training in order to obtain certification. Another point of difference is the selection: Choose from more than 600 individual styles in an assortment of lengths (6 to 17 millimetres), colours, curvatures and dimensions. Meaning, whatever kind of lash look you crave, it can be achieved.
After a methodical consultation with Garritano, which took about 20 minutes, I reclined in a comfy spa chair while she applied hydrating undereye gel patches to isolate my bottom lashes. From there, I had to keep my eyes closed and stay still for about two hours—naturally, I took advantage of the downtime and got the inside scoop on eyelash extensions.
What makes a good lash-extension candidate?
“With all the options and techniques we offer, anyone can be a candidate,” says Garritano. For example, if you have extremely sparse lashes, there’s a service called “Voluminous,” which is designed for women with bald spots or thinning lashes. That said, they’re not miracle workers. “We can only work with what we have to work with. If your lashes are short and thin, we can’t go beyond a certain length and diameter because the extension won’t adhere well.”
How should you prepare for your appointment?
If your lashes are light brown, blond or red, Garritano suggests coming in for a lash tint 72 hours before your appointment. This helps give the service more impact and also deposits a dark hue on the bottom lashes, which aids in balancing out the look post-extensions. The tint lasts for six weeks, so if you’re maintaining the extensions, Garritano recommends getting a tint every second refill.
What shouldn’t you do before your appointment?
Don’t grab a coffee or tea. “The caffeine can cause some clients to have fluttering eyelids, which makes it difficult to properly adhere the extension to the lash,” says Garritano.
Garritano recommends that clients come back every two to three weeks, but she notes everyone is different. “Lifestyle dictates how long you can go between appointments. If you’re a swimmer or training for a triathlon, your wear is going to be shorter than average.”
How much does it cost?
Depending on the style, the service can range from $150 to $300 for a full set. Refills start at $50, but the price comes down to how long you’re in the chair. It costs about $50 for every 30 minutes.
"Getting eyelash extensions right before my wedding was such a great idea," says Canadian Living fashion and beauty contributor Alexandra Donaldson. It meant that I could have full, dark lashes, without worrying about ruining my mascara when the inevitable waterworks started. Alexandra's short lashes benefited from length and definition, and the before and after images speak for themselves. The best part? "Having eyelash extensions also allowed me to go pretty much makeup free for our post-wedding weekend away too," says Alexandra. "Which meant that I got the best of both worlds—a glammed up full-makeup experience for my wedding, but a fresh-faced look for my (almost) back-to-reality days too."
Garritano’s care tips
1. Don’t get your lashes wet for the first three hours, however this is only true if you’re using Xtreme Lashes. “Our adhesive bonds within three hours, however other adhesives on the market take 72 hours.”
2. Don’t be afraid to touch your lashes or cleanse in the morning and the evening. Just be sure to use oil-free products, as oil can loosen the bonds.
3. Cleanse your lashes using a foam-tipped applicator rather then a cotton pad or swab. The cotton can wrap around lashes, pulling them out.
4. A lash fortifier, such as RapidLash or Xtreme Lashes Amplifeye Lash & Brow Fortifier, applied twice a day will strengthen and condition your natural lashes while promoting growth.
5. Post-shower, don’t comb your lashes to untangle them, instead use your blow-dryer. Set it to low—and cool—and have it far away from your face. This will leave them fluffy and dry.
6. If you’re getting close to needing a refill and craving a few swipes of mascara, steer clear of waterproof formulas. They’re too stubborn to remove and can cause lashes to fall out during cleansing.
7. Using a spoolie brush or a product-free mascara wand, brush dry lashes to keep them from tangling.
How to get fuller eyebrows with eyebrow extensions
Everything you need to know about hair extensions
How to apply eyeliner for your eye shape