NakedPoppy

Everything You Need to Know About Lash Extensions

by Riley Rant

We’ve noticed a lot more lash lately.

And we’re not talking about the spider lashes that come from multiple coats of mascara. Or the drugstore falsies that weigh down your lids. Or the Latisse lashes that take a  few months to grow.

We’re talking about long, delicate lashes that show up overnight. Perfect princess lashes that make you look wide-eyed and well-rested even after a poor night’s sleep. Smear-free lashes, where you look done up before, during, and after a sweaty workout – without any smudging, running, or raccoon eyes in sight. 

We’re talking lash extensions – which can be strips, clusters, or single strands of semi-permanent false eyelashes individually attached to your natural eyelashes, one lash at a time.

We at NakedPoppy had a few questions about the benefits, cost, and health risks associated with this beauty trend. So we reached out to Nicole Acevedo, PhD, a scientific expert in ‘clean beauty’ and founder of Elavo Mundi Solutions, LLC to find out everything we need to know about lash extensions. Below, you’ll find all the answers to our burning questions. 

Lash extensions look amazing, but what exactly are they made of?

There are three major types of lash extensions: real mink and real human hair lashes, faux silk and faux mink lashes, and synthetic/acrylic lashes. Each has slightly different benefits.

Mink and Human Lashes: Mink lashes are derived from – you guessed it – real minks. But no animals are harmed in the process. When minks get their coats brushed, their hair naturally falls out. These hairs are then sterilized and turned into single, soft lash extensions. Human lashes are made from real human hair, providing comfort, quality, and the pliability you’re used to. Both mink and human lashes are the most natural-looking, and also the most expensive.  

Faux Silk and Faux Mink Lashes: Silk eyelash extensions aren't actually made from silk fibers; they're made from a synthetic material, while faux mink lashes come from man-made poly-fiber materials.  Dark black and shiny, both of these lashes are comfortable against your face, keep their curl, and are the most popular type of lash extensions.

Synthetic Acrylic Lashes: Synthetic Polybutylene Terephthalate plastic (PBT) lashes are the boldest, most curled, and most dramatic of the bunch. They’re a bit heavier than human, mink, or silk lashes, and don’t last quite as long. But they also don’t cost a fortune.  

Let’s talk time and money. How long do lash extensions last? And how much do they cost?

Stronger single strand eyelash extension adhesives can last up to 45 days, which is the approximate life cycle of natural lashes [1].  

To keep the extensions looking full and fresh, however, many people schedule touch-ups every two to four weeks. A full set of individually applied lashes could take up to two hours to apply on your first visit. And depending on the salon, you can expect to pay between $125 and $250 – with mink lashes reaching up to $500 for the first visit. Touch-up appointments take between an hour and 90 minutes and on average cost between $55-$100 each visit.

If I splurge on lash extensions, are there any activities or products I should avoid? 

It’s best not to get your extensions wet for at least 24-48 hours after application. During that time, use facial wipes to cleanse.

Also, it’s important to make sure that you don’t have any oil-based products on or near your eyes when applying the lash extensions. Oil will prevent full adhesion onto your natural lash. Try to avoid using oil-based skin products around the eyes after application as well to ensure that the glue adhesiveness lasts longer. When you’re spending this kind of money, you want to make sure your lashes last as long as possible.

Are there any side effects from lash extensions?

Side effects are rare. But they do exist, so here’s what you should know if you want to go into getting lash extensions with eyes wide open.

The skin on your eyelid is extremely delicate. Gluing false eyelashes onto the lash line may produce some skin sensitivities or allergies that can lead you to rub your eyes, and cause eyelashes to fall out [2].

Longer eyelashes can also increase airflow around the eye, causing them to dry out more easily, and leaving the eye more exposed to dirt and opportunistic pathogens [3].

The extra weight of the false lashes and/or glue may cause the natural lash to break, causing temporary damage to your natural lash line. Britain’s College of Optometrists cautions the risk of  ‘traction alopecia,’ “where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft. As a result, this can damage the hair follicle which can slow down and even cease production of hair” [4].

Again, these aren’t side effects most people face.

How about lash adhesive glue? What are the ingredients and are they safe?

The most common adhesives used to hold artificial lashes in place are cyanoacrylates (think super glue) or methacrylate-based adhesives.

These synthetic glues are volatile, which means they evaporate and dry quickly when exposed to air to create a quick and firm hold. This results in the release of chemical fumes that can contain formaldehyde, a known carcinogen that can also cause skin and eye irritation. Formaldehyde can be released as cyanoacrylate polymers form or ‘cure’ when exposed to air – leading to both skin allergic reactions, as well as respiratory effects if chronically exposed [5].

In Canada, cyanoacrylate-based adhesives for eyelash extensions are restricted and can only be sold for professional use [6].

Use of lash extensions can, in rare cases, lead to eye infections because the glue can trap bacteria.  

Is there a clean glue alternative for lash extensions?

There’s a company based out of Canada (True Glue) that markets an “all-natural’ lash glue that uses pullulan, a film-forming compound derived from fungi, to help create the adhesive. But it also contains an undisclosed synthetic polymer that works as the true adhesive.

In short, this is likely a better although not 100% clean option.

Do you have more advice or recommendations about lash extensions?

There are some companies that are selling magnetic false lashes, so you can have the ‘look’ without dealing with the harmful chemicals. Unless you happen to have a nickel allergy, this can be a great alternative.

This article has been scientifically reviewed by Tim McCraw, PhD chemist and CEO of Skin Science Advisors.

References:

[1] Stronger single strand eyelash extension adhesives can last up to 45 days, which is the approximate life cycle of natural lashes: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1888429618300487

[2] Gluing false eyelashes onto the lash line may produce some skin sensitivities or allergies that can lead you to rub your eyes, and cause eyelashes to fall out: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22134404

[3] Longer eyelashes can increase airflow around the eye, causing them to dry out more easily, and leaving the eye more exposed to dirt and opportunistic pathogens:
http://rsif.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/12/105/20141294?hc_location=ufi

[4] Extensions can damage the hair follicle which can slow down and even cease production of hair: https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/2013/05/eyelash-extensions-can-pose-health-risks/index.htm

[5] Formaldehyde can be released as cyanoacrylate polymers form or ‘cure’ when exposed to air – leading to both skin allergic reactions, as well as respiratory effects if chronically exposed: https://jhu.pure.elsevier.com/en/publications/the-degradation-of-cyanoacrylate-tissue-adhesive-i-3

[6] In Canada, cyanoacrylate-based adhesives for eyelash extensions are restricted and can only be sold for professional use: https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/consumer-product-safety/cosmetics/cosmetic-ingredient-hotlist-prohibited-restricted-ingredients/hotlist.html#tbl2

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