Living in New York City, it’s safe to say that at least every other girl I meet currently has or has previously had eyelash extensions. In one of the most stylish cities in the world, there are women everywhere you look with polished nails, freshly blown out hair, and, yes, perfect lashes. Blowouts are one thing I always make time for (they instantly make me feel more 'me'); nails I’ve given up on; and false lashes are something I’ve always wanted to try.
So, when I was assigned an article about what it's like to get lash extensions for the first time, I took it as a sign that it was time to give the faux fringe I'd long admired a try. Just in time for the holidays, I took a seat at the BBB London outpost at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to get glam, and here's my honest take on the eyelash extension process.
The Allergy Test
Before the actual lash extension appointment, BBB London requires clients to come in for a quick patch test (at least 48 hours beforehand) to ensure that you’re not allergic to the lash glue that is used to secure the falsies. No appointment is required for the drop-in session, which involves the lash technician applying a small drop of black-colored glue behind one ear.
No exaggeration, the whole process took less than a minute. My technician told me that it’s natural to feel itchiness for a few minutes (which I did!) as the glue dries and pulls the skin. An allergic reaction, meanwhile, would be characterized by more intense itchiness, redness, and bumps. If none of that happens, you’re free to peel the glue off after an hour and move forward with your appointment. Since my itchiness quickly subsided, I was good to go.
Choosing a Treatment
A week after my patch test, I returned to BBB London for the application. I was told to block off one to two hours for the appointment and to arrive, ideally, makeup free. Once I got there, it was time to decide which lash treatment I wanted, as there is more than one type of lashes to choose from.
BBB London offers semi-permanent lash (SPL) treatments that last up to six weeks (with infills) and cluster lash treatments that provide a more temporary two-week boost. They also have lash curl and lift services that can tint and curl natural lashes. I opted for SPL, and, from there, my lash technician explained the different looks available. There is a “flirty” option where the lash stylist only applies individual lashes to the corners of the eyes to create the appearance of a cat eye. For a bit more impact, there is an option to do a half set of eyelashes (image below), which amounts to about 40 lashes per eye.
The most dramatic offering is a full set of lashes (image below) that involves anywhere from 80 to 200 eyelashes per eye. The more lashes you add, the greater the effect. Since it was my first time getting eyelash extensions, I knew I wanted a natural look. The lash technician recommended applying a full set of 80 individual, synthetic mink lashes to each eye. We skipped the bottom lashes because they don’t tend to last as long.
The Application Process
With my decision made, it was time to lay down in the reclining chair. While the lashes were being applied, I took a nap, but you could listen to music or a podcast.
To start, the lash artist applied surgical tape along my bottom lash line to ensure the glue wouldn't get on them. Since the tape is applied very close to the eyes, I found this to be the most uncomfortable part of the appointment. Once the tape was in place, she applied a silicone eyepatch for comfort (and to give her a place to wipe any excess lash glue as she was working!). She instructed me to keep my eyes closed at all times while she applied the fake lashes. She placed all the individual lashes on my right eye before moving onto the left.
With my new faux fringe in place, she used a spoolie to separate them and make sure they didn’t stick together or clump. As a final step, she used a small pump to blow air that helped the glue dry. Aside from the surgical tape, the only discomfort I felt was a bit of itchiness in the inner corners of my eyes, which I was told is common.
All told, I was in the chair for about an hour. After giving the glue time to dry, my technician removed the surgical tape and silicone patch, as I eagerly waited to see the final product. I prayed my lashes were going to be full and long while still looking natural — and I am happy to say they did!
When I first looked in the mirror I was amazed at how much the lashes made my eyes pop. They looked like they do when I apply mascara or fake eyelashes, but, because the lashes are applied individually, the result was much more natural than falsies.
Before I left, the lash stylist outlined the maintenance protocol and what I should expect. First and foremost, I couldn't get the eyelashes wet for the first 24 hours. After that, it's fine to get them wet, and it's actually recommended that you gently cleanse them regularly.
She also informed me that it’s normal for a couple of eyelashes to fall out the first day, and, in the process, she debunked a popular myth I was curious about: Do lash extensions cause your natural eyelashes to fall out? The short answer is no, however, there are some conditions in which they might shed or not grow back right away. For instance, aggressively rubbing your eyes can pull out both fake and natural eyelashes. Additionally, getting back-to-back sessions may cause a build up of glue that can block the hair follicle and, in turn, prevent new lashes from growing.
With my mind at ease, there was one key rule I would need to follow: Avoiding eye makeup — especially mascara and eyeliner — as much as possible. Makeup remover should not be used on the false lashes.
As much as I love my new lashes, I’m not sure how well they fit it into my everyday life. With bad seasonal allergies, I couldn’t resist rubbing my eyes. As a result, my lashes lasted about a month. At the three-week mark, I probably could have benefited from 'infills' (a.k.a. touch ups), which BBB London offers at its various locations.
Between the initial application and upkeep, eyelash extensions are undoubtedly a time commitment, but I would definitely get lashes again for special occasions — like my upcoming wedding or honeymoon! And, for anyone considering lash extensions for a specific event, the brand recommends coming in for a trial session to ensure your eyes feel comfortable and you're happy with the look.
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