Lash Lift vs Lash Extensions: Which Is Best for You?

No matter how many eye creams you slather on, nothing brightens up your look like big, full lashes. But while the very (lucky) few are born with naturally fluttery ones, there are so many ways to fake fuller, longer fringe. Two of the most popular treatments that are available are lash lifts and lash extensions. So, which one is right for you? In the great lash extensions vs. lash lifts showdown, we turned to a pro to learn more about each—and help you determine your best fit.

“If you’re looking for a lash treatment to enhance what mother nature gifted you with, a lash lift will be more up your alley,” says Debbie Law, an international lash trainer at Nouveau Lashes. On the other hand, if you’re looking for “fuller, thicker-looking lashes with added volume,” you may want to consider lash extensions.

Let’s take a closer look at what goes into each treatment together.

Meet the Experts:

eyelash lift

What Is a Lash Lift?

A lash lift is basically a push-up bra (or more accurately, a perm) for your natural eyelashes. The semi-permanent treatment gives your natural lashes extra length and curl, boosting the effects of your mascara, should you choose to still wear it.

What’s the process?

A skilled technician applies a series of creams and specially shaped silicone shields to give semi-permanent lift to your natural eyelashes for up to eight weeks. The procedure isn’t entirely new (it’s been around since the ’80s), but the old-school version used hard-to-control liquid solutions rather than non-running creams. A lash lift often also includes a tint, so you look like you’re wearing mascara from the moment you wake up. And it only takes about an hour from start to finish. 

What’s the upkeep?

Lash lifts are super low-maintenance and require virtually no upkeep for six to eight weeks. Just wait 24 hours before getting them wet so the curl has time to set. Afterward, you can shower, wash your face and watch sappy rom-coms without any issues. You can wear mascara (if you even need to), and lash serums or castor oil are encouraged to condition and hydrate them in-between.

Pros and Cons of a Lash Lift:

First, the pros: “Lash lifts are a great way to enhance what you already have, whether your lashes are long, short or stubborn. This treatment will make your eyes appear more open and youthful, as well as save time in your morning routine,” says Law. The results typically last about two months.

Now, the cons: Though it is very unlikely that a lash lift will damage your natural lashes, Law cautions that if they’re done incorrectly, it “could cause some lash loss or irritation,” before adding that “you should always visit a professional lash technician for this treatment and avoid any online uncertified DIY lash lift kits.” (There's also the 24-hour wait before getting them wet to consider.)

eyelash extensions

What Are Eyelash Extensions?

They’re semi-permanent falsies, which are hand-glued to the top of your actual lashes. "With classic extensions, individual lashes are applied 1-on-1 to your natural lashes to add depth and length," explains Law. "You can also go for hybrid lashes, which involve applying multiple extensions to a single lash to create the illusion of more lashes in that area," she adds.

What’s the process?

First, you’ll choose your shape, curl and length for your desired effect. The longer and more curled, the more dramatic they’ll appear. Your first appointment could take anywhere between an hour and a half to two hours, depending upon the look you’re going for. You’ll lie down on a table with your eyes closed and a technician will apply silicone patches underneath each eye to keep bottom lashes out of the way. They’ll then fuse each of the extensions to the base of your own hairs, one by one.

What’s the upkeep?

You’ll have to go back in for a fill every two to four weeks, depending on how skilled your technician is and how careful you are with your eyes. To make them last, avoid steam or water for the first 24 hours and keep any oil-based makeup (and skincare products) off your lids and lash line, which could break down the adhesive and cause them to fall off faster.

Pros and Cons of Eyelash Extensions:

First, the pros: “Whether prefer a more natural look or like to go all-out glam, extensions can really elevate your lashes and put your eyes center stage,” shares Law. Similar to lash lifts, extensions can save time when you’re getting ready and can last up to a month when cared for properly.

Now, the cons: On that note, lash extensions do typically require more maintenance than lash lifts. To keep them at their fullest, most people get fresh infills every 2 to 3 weeks, so be prepared for more frequent trips to the salon.

How to Choose the Right Treatment for You

What’s your end goal? If you already have decent lashes and just want a little tint and curl, lash lifts are the way to go. If you have naturally short or sparse lashes and are looking for more length and volume, you may want to try lash extensions.

And if you need more help deciding, it’s worth noting that of the two options, lash lifts are lower maintenance and cost less to upkeep. The cost of a lash lift varies depending on where you live and your technician's qualifications, but you can generally expect to pay anywhere from $75 to $150.

For lash extensions, you can expect a higher starting cost of around $120 and up to $300 or more for your first appointment; subsequent fills typically run between $90 and $150.

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