In the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in eyelash extensions. This beauty procedure enhances your natural lashes and allows you to say goodbye to mascara, growth serum and falsies. While some may be hesitant to try them out, it’s a great alternative if you’re looking for a little less daily maintenance. Whether you’re looking for a subtle or a dramatic look, here is a guide to the four main types of eyelash extensions available before you book your first appointment.
4 Types of Eyelash Extensions to Upgrade Your Natural Lashes
What Are Eyelash Extensions?
Eyelash extensions are semi-permanent lashes that are applied to your natural lashes using glue. They’re generally applied to the top lash line to make your lashes appear fuller and longer, while enhancing your eye shape. This service is usually done by a lash professional who can help determine the right extensions for you.
How to Choose the Right Eyelash Extension for You
“Most people don’t realize that applying lash extensions is an art. It’s not one size fits all,” Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in Miami and NYC, says. “Since everyone has a different face shape and bone structure it's important for women to understand that lash extensions are an enhancement of your own natural lashes. We customize each look for every client.”
Richardson suggests consulting with a lash specialist about what you’re willing to pay for eyelash extensions as a full set can run you between $90 to $350 (with refills every two to four weeks that cost between $50 to $150).
But before you proceed, let’s discuss the types of eyelash extensions that are available. These four types vary by price, material, comfort and style.
Synthetic lashes are a common choice for many lash fans—newbies and regulars alike. These extensions come in a variety of lengths and styles and are the most affordable of the bunch. While they aren’t the “most natural" pick of all the extension types, they are still known for being versatile.
2. Silk Fibers
FYI, they aren’t made with real silk. However, the material comes from silk fibers, which makes them lighter and more flexible than synthetic lashes. These extensions have a semi-matte finish and are darker in color to add a touch of boldness to your eyes. Silk lash extensions are a great option for those with weaker lashes. While still on the more affordable end of the spectrum like synthetic lashes, silk lashes will give you a fuller look.
For the closest thing to your natural lashes, check out mink. They generally last longer than silk and synthetic lashes and give you the most realistic look. The downside to mink lashes is that they can be quite expensive, ranging between $300 to $500. The fine and wispy material also requires constant curling (especially if your lashes get wet). The biggest turn off for some is that mink lashes are made from animal fur—specifically Siberian or Chinese Mink’s tail. So, if you’re vegan, allergic to fur or prefer cruelty-free options, they may not be the right fit for you.
4. Faux Mink
That said, faux mink lashes do exist. Faux mink lashes are a popular style that give a similar look to real mink lashes but have a glossier finish to them. The synthetic material also makes them more affordable, lower maintenance (aka they hold a stronger curl) and cruelty-free, while maintaining that striking finish. Plus, the poly-fiber formula makes faux lashes the most lightweight of the bunch, which is helpful for people with naturally thinner lashes.
A few things to consider:
So you've decided on the type of eyelash extensions you want, but that's just the first step. For a well-rounded look, you also have to consider the length, thickness and curl type you want. Thankfully, we made a handy guide to bring to your appointment.
1. Volume And Thickness
The volume and thickness of your extensions can turn a look from subtle to ultra-glam in seconds. The thicker the lashes, the more dramatic they’ll look. (Thicker lashes can also weigh down your natural lashes, which is something to consider if you have thin or weak lashes.) For reference, the average thickness of lash extensions range from .05mm to .25mm. Overall, it depends on your personal preference and what your lash specialist recommends. “It’s really dependent on each individual since everyone’s eye shape and lifestyle needs are different. Lash extensions are not like strip lashes. [Because the way they are applied], they are not one size fits all,” she adds.
When it comes to volume, it’s all about how the lashes are bundled together. The classic method involves attaching a single extension to each individual eyelash. To add more fullness, the individual lashes can be combined into a “fan” (or a “cluster”) for every eyelash. A number is paired with the letter D (which stands for dimension) to determine how many lashes are grouped together in each fan or cluster (i.e. 2D means there are two lashes per fan). If you want a more natural look, 2D to 4D is your best bet. If you want bolder lashes, try between 4D to 9D (anything beyond 5D will look very noticeable).
Like volume and thickness, length will vary depending on how dramatic you want your lashes to look. The longer the lash, the bolder the look. The key is to choose a length that’s not too long. If you go super long, there’s a higher chance you can damage your natural lashes, which can prevent them from growing or cause discomfort. Most lash experts suggest you go for a length that’s no more than 3mm to 5mm longer than your actual lashes.
3. Curl Types
The curl types are based on their shape—from most natural to curliest—and are given letters accordingly: J, B, C, D and L.
- J is the most natural looking of all the curl types. It offers volume and a slight curl without being too obvious. J curl is suitable for people with naturally straight lashes that point downward or straight ahead.
- Similar to J, but B is slightly more curved. If you want a subtle lift, try a B curl.
- C is a fan favorite that works well with any eye shape. This type gives a more open and fuller look.
- D stands for dramatic with a capital D. If you have naturally curly lashes, this might be the best pick for you.
- L gives the boldest curl of all. It provides a major lash lift that starts with a straight base and curls upwards as it extends to the tips. This type works best for monolids and hooded lids.
How do they last?
Lashes are constantly shedding and growing without you even realizing it. As a result, this natural cycle will affect how long the extensions will last. On average, a set can last up to four weeks, during which time you’ll start to see gaps form between your natural lashes and the extensions. It’s recommended that you get refills every two to three weeks to maintain their fullness. Put into further perspective, Richardson says that 50 to 80 percent of extensions stay attached but overgrown lashes are removed and replaced.
How do I care for my eyelash extensions?
The first 48 hours after your lash appointment are crucial. You need to allow the glue to fully dry and settle during this time. Richardson recommends avoiding water, sweat and steam and any oil-based makeup or makeup remover. You don’t want anything interfering with the adhesive and weakening the hold on your lashes. Also, avoid touching your extensions, rubbing your eyes or using a curler, which can damage them.
(Oh, and we’re not telling you to skip showering those first 48 hours. There are protective shields that can protect your lashes if you’re really concerned about not getting them wet. You’re welcome.)
How Do I Maintain The Look Of My Extensions?
A good spoolie brush can maintain the look and shape of your extensions. Use one to brush your lashes daily to keep them tangle-free and smooth.
To clean your lashes, invest in oil-free cleansers that are designed for eyelash extensions. These cleansers eliminate any bacteria around the eye area to prevent irritation or infections. The cleansers also reduce mites (which love to feed off the oils, dirt and debris in your lash line). These tiny hidden bugs can lead to redness, itchiness and even the loss of your natural lashes over time.
Richardson also suggests using conditioning serums (like the Luxuriating Lash Conditioner) in between appointments to keep the fullness, length and density of your extensions intact. Practicing this regular cleaning routine can keep your lashes looking and feeling healthy.
Be honest, do eyelash extensions damage your natural lashes?
Short answer: It depends. Under the care of a licensed professional, it’s a relatively safe process, but there’s always a chance of damaging your natural lashes. Some of this can be prevented by considering the weight of the extensions (heavier lashes can pull on your natural hairs) and keeping your hands away from them (so no absent-minded tugging or rubbing your eyes). “Rubbing your eyes is probably the worst thing you can do [because it] can rip the extensions out, causing baldness, which you definitely do not want to happen!” Richardson cautions.
Eyelash extensions offer a fully customizable way to enhance your lashes and can cut down on your daily makeup routine. Just remember to take into account their initial cost and upkeep (though you could always just try them out for a special occasion, too). And if you’re still on the fence, let Richardson persuade you with this last push: “Lash extensions are a form of art. [They're] able to transform someone's eye shape and enhance their natural beauty, so you [can] wake up looking and feeling beautiful.” And who wouldn’t want that?