Eyes Wide Open: False Eyelashes

When you want something extra to enhance your look, consider false eyelashes or extensions.



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Glam. Pop. Drama. These are words used by fans of false eyelashes and lash extensions to describe their beauty obsession.

“When I don’t have them on, I feel droopy, tired and sleepy,” says Jillian Caro, a makeup artist in Orlando. Caro, who applies traditional strip false eyelashes to brides and prom-goers who want to look glamorous for their big occasions, prefers extensions for her own eyes. “They really open up your eyes and bring more attention to your face,” she says.

Typically made of synthetic material, extensions can take two to three hours to apply as a licensed cosmetologist or esthetician glues one hair at a time to the base of your real lashes. Initial sets of extensions cost from $150 to $300, depending on the salon, the material and the number of extensions. Lash extensions will shed along with the natural growth cycle of your real lashes, so fill-ins are needed every three to four weeks and cost $40 to $90, based on the type and number of extensions.

Lash aficionados attribute the fascination with eyelash enhancement to beauty bloggers’ social media makeup tutorials and to the influence of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé, Katy Perry and the Kardashians, who sport fringes that inspire emulation.

Jaimz Dillman of Orlando loves her inexpensive false eyelashes. A florist by day and actor by night, Dillman carries a tube of adhesive in her purse and eyelashes in her credit card case because “you never know when you’re going to need drama.”

“They’ve become more mainstream than they used to be,” she says. “It’s a new beauty standard that’s becoming acceptable. People like a little bit of glamour.”

False eyelash strips are available at drugstores, supermarkets and online. They can cost anywhere from $6 to $20, come in a variety of styles, lengths and thicknesses and can be trimmed to look more natural. They don’t require the commitment of extensions,  but should be either thrown away or cleaned after each use with alcohol or warm water and soap. Otherwise, wearers risk the possibility of infections such as pink eye.

Although the Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions states that “properly applied eyelash extensions are not dangerous,” some studies have cast doubt on their safety.

Consumer Reports says that extensions have been reported to cause irritation to the conjunctiva and cornea. 

“Women are also learning that eyelash extensions can cause hair loss resulting in eyelashes so thin that women feel they have no choice but to continue the cycle,” the magazine’s website notes. 

Women who have inexpertly yanked off their strip eyelashes know that their natural lashes can come off with the fakes. In addition, false lashes and extensions, because of their length, can trap dirt and bacteria, creating irritation and infection. Another source of irritation can be the glue used with either type of lash.

Dillman, who has developed styes, or infected oil glands, from wearing fake eyelashes, has also considered extensions. But the busy mother of two is sticking with her strips.

Extensions are “not something I could fit in my schedule right now,” she says. “I need to glue and go!”


The Pros and Cons on False Eyelashes and Extensions

Eyelash Extensions:

  • Make sure your technician is a licensed professional
  • Check reviews of the salon
  • Make sure to use an adhesive that does not contain formaldehyde
  • Be prepared to lie still for 2-3 hours, with your eyes closed, for the application of your initial set
  • Avoid water, steam, sweating and heat for 24-48 hours after the initial application
  • Wash your lashes daily with a cleanser specially formulated for extensions

Pros:

  • Lashes are there 24/7
  • Adhesive doesn’t touch skin

Cons:

  • Expensive to apply and maintain
  • They require a significant time commitment

False Eyelash Strips:

  • Use latex-free glue to avoid a possible allergic reaction
  • Remove lashes after each use and use a mild cleanser to clean them

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Widely available

Cons:

  • They can feel heavy on your eyelids
  • They can fall off easily if the adhesive loosens
  • Strips are glued to lashes and eyelid skin, so adhesive may irritate your skin; hair follicles may get blocked, inhibiting new lash growth
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