Posted on October 19th, 2022
As a beauty editor, I thought I knew everything about caring for my eyelash extensions. However, despite following all the instructions my various lash technicians told me, my extensions never last more than a solid seven days before the dreaded fallout occurs.
My once fluffy, perfectly curled lashes quickly transform into a web of thin, spidery-looking lashes with random patches of what seems like almost pure baldness. Of course, I always blame it on my oily eyelids. But truth be told, my short-lived extensions have everything to do with what I am not doing and less to do with the amount of sebum sitting on my upper lids.
Recently, I had an extension application appointment with celebrity lash expert, Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes, which has locations in Manhattan and Miami. During the 90-minute appointment, Richardson and I got to chatting about what was causing my extensions to have an abbreviated lifespan, and I was shocked to learn that all my at-home care tactics were wrong — I was doing the opposite of what I should be doing.
Eyelash extensions are a godsend for those with thin lashes, lashes that won't hold curl, or desire that I-woke-up-like-this look without being a slave to mascara. Sure, mile-long wispy flutters may be worth every penny, but if you're not taking care of them at home, you may be cutting their retention rate down big time.
The rules of lash care are continually evolving, and some of the most-practiced habits — the ones many of us follow — do more harm than good. Want to stay up to speed on the right way to care for your extensions? This is what the experts have to say.
"There's no such thing as mascara that's safe for lash extensions," says Richardson. "Plus, mascara puts extra weight on the natural lashes and even more weight on lash extensions, causing premature shedding."
Layering mascara on top of extensions is likely to make lashes look clumpy. And removing mascara is a downright mess — a portion of the mascara will remain on the extension. "Lashes come in many different curls, so when getting lashes done, it is important that the stylist is knowledgeable on what curl is close to the natural lash so that you do not have to put mascara on lashes," says Richardson.
If you're one of the many extension wearers that gets your lashes either damp or soaking wet within the first 24 hours after application, stop. It's best to stretch those 24 hours to 48 since a lack of water and moisture is what allows the glue to cure properly.
The same goes for steam, humidity, and allowing your lashes to come into direct contact with water straight from the showerhead while in the shower. "Showerheads are aggressive — I advise against having direct contact between the lashes and the showerheads," Richardson says. "Having water beat on the lash can damage the natural lash as the extension falls," she adds.
Celebrity lash extension expert Dionne Phillips also recommends avoiding heat for the first two days after a new set of falsies. "The hot temperature will open up the glue and cause it to slide off," she explains.
Part of the reason for wearing lash extensions is so that you can sport an I-woke-up-like-this pulled-together look, even at the gym. However, Phillips says to be cautious of heavy forehead sweat when working out. "Either wipe it off or wear a cute headband to avoid sweat from dripping onto the lashes," she suggests. The salt (from sweat) can potentially break down the adhesive on the lashes.
Avoid using cleansers of any type on the lashes unless necessary. Richardson explains that with the rise of so many lash cleansers and shampoos, people try to incorporate them into their everyday routine. "However, lashes should not be fussed with, and any manipulation of the extensions can cause breakage and premature shedding," she says.
In the event of excessive buildup on the lashes and the adhesive, which is often due to hygiene and product usage and doesn't accumulate as quickly as most think it does, Richardson says it's safe to wash the lashes. She recommends using Envious Lashes Oil-Free Makeup Remover around the eyelid and then splashing water on the eyes when washing the face. "With the gentle splash, the cleanser will run down the lashes as opposed to causing friction and premature fallout."
Side sleeping creates friction between the lashes and pillowcase, forcing them to fall out fast and weakening the adhesive bond that holds the extensions in place. "The best pillowcases to sleep on for lash extensions are silk or soft silk material ones, and they're also the best for hair," says Phillips. Our pick: Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase.
Depositing remover directly onto the lash line with a cotton round to remove makeup can generate short-lived extensions. Phillips says the same goes for oils in makeup-removing wipes, which can cause the glue to break down and the lash to fall off. "You can use oil-free makeup remover wipes around the eyes, but be careful that the wipes or remover doesn't snag on the extensions," she adds.
Instead, Phillips recommends using a soft eyeshadow brush to remove eye makeup and to clean the lashes with water. "Use the brush to gently brush toward the lash line of the eye using a lash foam cleanser or lash wash like D'Lashes Lash Wash," she says.
Next, gently wipe or wash in a downward motion to clean away from the lash line. "Then, gently dab underneath the lashes to dry the excess water from the lashes and wait to dry before brushing." Brushing wet lashes can cause the extension to loosen and fall out.
Lash curlers are the number one reason for broken, patchy lashes. "Eyelash curlers are detrimental to lash extensions since they cut the lash extensions and break their bond," Phillips explains. Yet, as the natural lash begins to grow out, the extensions start to move further away from the lash root and can appear to lose their fluttery curl. So, although the extensions don't physically become straighter, they may look that way because the curl of the extension is buried in the mid-root of the natural lash.
When this happens, some extension wearers reach for the eyelash curler to try and lift the extension back up. If the loss of the curl is something you have to fix, use a heated curling iron, like Lash Star Heated Eyelash Curler, instead. "You can also use it with a dense sponge to get at the tip of your lash extensions, so you don't break the bond of the glue from the lash extensions," says Phillips. Alternatively, make it easy on yourself and book an appointment for a fill to get a new fluffy, perfectly curled set.
It's important to condition the lashes regularly when wearing extensions since density is more fundamental than natural length, but know what you're using. "Although I'm not against Latisse, when the lashes grow in, they grow wiry and longer," Richardson says. To achieve fuller lashes, she recommends Envious Lashes Lash Conditioning Serum, which contains natural ingredients and peptides to help create density and thicker hair follicles. "The stronger the base, the better the hold and the denser the lashes, the fuller the set," Richardson shares.