We’ll try anything that promises to get us out the door faster every morning—so with the prospect of not having to apply mascara (or any kind of daytime eye makeup at all), eyelash extensions naturally piqued our interest. Completely perplexed by the practice? Hear us out: It’s really just like any other beauty service that requires a salon visit or routine maintenance, and it promises results that last for weeks. We tapped one of LA’s premier lash artists, Arianna Montazem, to give us the rundown on extensions. If you’re wary of having semipermanent falsies, allow this to be your guide to deciding whether they’re right for you. (As for us, we’re big fans!)
How Do I Decide What Kind Of Lashes To Get?
Arianna prefers to leave the styling up to the client—bring inspiration pictures to help contextualize your end goal—but will make suggestions if asked. "The most commonly requested look is a cat eye, which means shorter on the inner corner and longer towards the outer edge. But everyone's eye shape is different, so some people may look better with a cat eye while others may prefer a blend of different lengths throughout the lash line. In terms of lash varieties, there are many different types of extensions—synthetic, mink, silk, synthetic mink and even human hair. I have used all kinds but prefer a synthetic mink material."
How Long Do Extensions Usually Last?
"Lash extensions should last from four to six weeks; however, this depends on your artist, how they are applied and how well the client takes care of them."
Before and after extensions at my appointment with Arianna.
What Actually Happens When Lashes Are Applied?
"I use two forceps to apply the lashes, one straight and one curved. I use the straight one to pick up the extension from the tray and dip in adhesive then apply to the natural lash. I use the curved one to isolate each individual natural lash—it's a one by one process. The key to keeping the natural lashes healthy is isolation! I go back and forth between the eyes to make sure they are a mirrored image of each other, while brushing with a spooly in between applying—brushing also helps with isolation."
How Do I Take Care Of My Extensions?
"The best way to care for lashes is to properly brush them with a spooly once or twice per day after you wash your face and use the products your artists suggests. Most artists should be offering an aftercare product for their clients."
How Do The Extensions Come Off? Does It Hurt?
"Your eyelashes normally shed out every four to six weeks. Each natural lash is on its own shed cycle, hence why isolation during application is so important. Shedding out of natural lashes is painless, so it should be equally as painless with extensions."
Do I Have To Get A Full Set Of Lashes Each Time?
"Not if you're consistent with upkeep—I offer two-, three- and four-week fills (meaning x amount of weeks since your last appointment). However, a visit after four weeks or with less than 40 percent of your previous extensions would be considered a full set."
Does Any Irritation Occur During The Process?
"The eyes may sting for a minute after the application. I always suggest using eye drops to help with that, especially if the client wears contact lenses. As far as being itchy, that could be a sign of an allergic reaction and you should see your artist to assess the situation immediately."
Editor's note: I experienced irritation on the bottom portion of my eye, and Arianna explained that sometimes the pads used over the lower lash line can swell during application if the eyes water. This went away after several days with the help of eye drops.
Can I Wear Mascara With Extensions?
"You can; however, you don't want to wear a waterproof formula or cake it on. Most clients don't wear it at all because the extensions are already black, thick and curled. If you do decide to wear mascara, be careful how you remove it—you don't want to use anything with loose cotton fibers, such as cotton pads or cotton balls. You can dip a clean mascara wand into oil-free eye-makeup remover, use a makeup wipe or even your normal face wash to gently remove. Most lash artists should be offering a makeup remover specifically safe for lash extensions."
Who Should Avoid Getting Extensions?
"I wouldn't suggest for anyone with a latex or acrylic allergy to get lash extensions—they will absolutely have a reaction to the adhesive. Another thing to keep in mind is how many natural lashes you have. If you have gaps in your natural lash line or they are extremely short and fine, then lash extensions will not be the best for you. It's always best to have a consultation, whether it be in person or over the phone, if you are unsure."
How Can I Find A Trusted Lash Artist?
The ultimate lash-spiration: Goldie Hawn in the '70s. Photo: Getty Images
"I always suggest to first find someone who is a licensed cosmetologist or aesthetician. Also, see if they are certified to do lash extensions. A lot of the big brands who certify licensed professionals offer an online database where you can search for a certified artist by city or state. Whatever you do, don't try to take the cheap way out. Remember, it is your eyes, so it's better to be safe than sorry!"