On the grounds that the world isn’t fair, some of us are more well endowed in eyelash terms than others. Many men have the kind of doe-eyed, luscious eyelashes that many women would give their right arm for (see Zac Efron, Zayn Malik, Enrique Iglesias, Ryan Gosling, the list wearily goes on…) and the great dames of Hollywood are typically blessed with a thicket of lashes. Elizabeth Taylor even had a double set owing to a genetic mutation, essentially removing the need to wear mascara, but of course she did anyway because... Elizabeth Taylor.
Just because you weren’t anointed with sweeping lashes at birth, however, doesn’t mean that you too can’t skip mascara, wake up to instant definition and seduce men/ women/ the camera/ anyone you wish to coerce with the bat of an eyelid, but for there are caveats involving expense, holding fire on the hot showers and even changing the type of cleanser you use. Here are your options for doing up the curtains of the the windows of your soul, from high to low maintenance treatments and everything in between.
Full Set of Semi-Permanent Lash Extensions
What are they? Our tester got hers applied at the Lash Perfect bar in central London. The eyelash extensions involve the application of individual synthetic eyelashes to your own natural lashes, using medical-grade adhesive; you can pick your length and even whether to go for a curled style or a more natural-looking straight set.
How does it work? With your lower lashes taped down with under-eye pads (which are available either with active ingredients to cool the eyes or without, for sensitive skin) and eyes closed, a trained therapist will apply the lashes one by one - but you won’t feel a thing. If you’re blonde, it may be a good idea to have a tint first, and a patch test is often required 24 hours beforehand to ensure that you don’t have any adverse reactions to lash glue.
What’s the effect? The final effect is impressive, enhanced, yet subtle if you do go for the half set option. The extensions are attached a little way up from the root - they don’t touch the skin, and they only fall out as and when your natural lashes drop (as they do, regularly). Maintenance appointments for fill-ins are recommended every couple of weeks to make them last longer, otherwise you can enjoy the set for up to four weeks.
Any downtime? Don’t get them wet for 24 hours, and no hot showers or sudden opening of dishwashers either - the steam can affect the glue for 2 days after.
How about upkeep? We've talked through how to deal with makeup for lash extensions over here . The only real rule is to avoid any oil-based eye products or cleansers, and to be careful not to let your moisturiser touch the lashes. Liquid eyeliner is not recommended, so be warned if you’re a fan of a the feline flick - pencil eyeliner is best for optimum results, though so long as your liquid liner of choice is oil-free and removed carefully (use a cotton bud or cloth - not cotton wool - with your oil-free cleanser ) you should be able to keep up your signature look. Lash Perfect stocks its own brand of eyeliner, mascara and makeup remover if you’re not sure about your own kit’s ingredients. The lashes can also get a little tangled, but you’ll be given a brush to comb them through and keep them in check. NEVER under any circumstances pick at them with your fingers. You’ll not only risk pulling your extensions out, but your natural eyelashes too, which will make the sparsity problem worse. If they’re falling out in an uneven way, visit your lash aesthetician for either full removal or infill if appropriate.
Final verdict: The bottom line, in our tester’s opinion, is that if your own lashes are lacklustre and you prefer a natural makeup look, or you’re heading on holiday and the idea of applying and removing mascara on a daily basis is somewhat of a chore, these are a great solution. They look beautiful without any added mascara and can be passed off as your own, only better; however, the restriction with makeup products could be an issue if you’re a makeup junkie. Know your formulas well, however, or stick to powder and pencil products, and your lashes should last well enough to warrant the price tag.
What’s the damage? Expect to pay between £130-£150 for a full set and £70-£80 for a half set. Removal comes in at approximately £20, and infills vary according to how many lashes you need.
What are they? Fine, soft and lightweight lashes applied to each natural eyelash- between three and six is applied depending on the effect you’re after, and of course your budget. They’re occasionally referred to as 3D or 6D lashes, and are especially effective if you’re main concern is a lack of volume.
How does it work? Very similar to classic extensions, except that more lashes are applied to each individual eyelash. As a result it takes longer- expect your treatment to last around two hours.
What’s the effect? A thicker, fuller fringe of lashes with more longevity than traditional extensions- you should get a full eight weeks wear and not need to return for a maintenance appointment for at least a month. If you’d like volume at a more subtle level, Lash Perfect’s Tahitian Feathering service is similar to Russian lashes, but lashes of different lengths are applied to create a more delicate final look.
Any downtime? Pretty much the same ground rules as regular extensions. Beware saunas, steam rooms and showers. Goggles while you wash might seem silly at first but you shelled out for these babies so well worth considering. Also give it some thought if you’re hayfever prone - rubbing your eyes will cause lashes to fall prematurely at best, and take your own lashes with them at worst. Given the cost, you’ll want to have an anti-itch plan in place.
How about upkeep? As above, you should be able to hang onto these for longer, but you’ll need to return for maintenance appointments to keep them looking fresh and thick.
Final verdict: Precisely tailored to the effect you want, whether that’s to look more wide eyed, bushy lashed (in a good way) or naturally feline. Also, if you crave drama, this is ‘the one’. Just wait for the compliments to roll on in.
What’s the damage? Substantial- from £180 to £325 for a full, bespoke set at London lash legend Daxita’s bars at the new Harvey Nichols Beauty Lounge and Atherton Cox . Maintenance with Daxita is £140. Tahitian Feathering at Lash Perfect will set you back £180 for a full set, and £95 for half. A quick infill is £55, and more thorough going over is £90.
Two Week ‘Cluster’ Lashes
What are they? Eyelash extensions applied in groups of three to your natural lashes.
How does it work? You can choose exactly where you want to enhance your lashes, be it in the outer corners or centre, and concentrate your lash appeal where it’s needed, without having to invest in a full set.
What’s the effect? Again, clusters are very customisable, and the effect depends on the shape of your face, eye shape and impact you’d like. As subtle enhancement goes, however, these are a brilliant option, but best suited to special occasions rather than long term wear, as they’re not as long lasting as full extensions.
Any downtime? Go by the lash extension guidelines above- no oily makeup or cleansers around the eye area and skip the steam room.
How about upkeep? Given that they only last a fortnight, they won’t be flaking out extensively or noticeably, but you will need to have them removed by a professional to protect your natural lashes.
Final verdict: Fullness without the financial burden, and a great fix if you’ve not got the time or patience for the real deal.
What’s the damage? £60 for a ‘classic’ finish, £30 for enhancement just at the outer corners (makes a big difference!) at blink brow bars nationwide . Combine with a tint for more sultry lashes at a lower combined price point.
What is it? LVL stands for ‘length, volume and lift’, and involves lifting and straightening your natural eyelashes from the root, so that they look thicker and fuller. A perming lotion takes care of curl, while a tint adds instant definition and a moisturising serum keeps lashes in good condition.
How does it work? First things first, you’ll need to go along to your chosen salon, bar or clinic (I went to the very polished Blush+Blow in London’s Parson’s Green) for a patch test around 48 hours before your treatment to ensure that the perming lotion, tint and serum used don’t cause you any problems. If you can't make it to South West London, pioneers of LVL Nouveau Lashes has a handy salon finder to seek one out closer to home. The treatment itself takes less than an hour; simply chill out on a cushy bed as your therapist gets to work on giving you naturally incredible eyelashes using painless shields to protect lower lashes and provide a canvas to work on for the upper lashes. The perming lotion smells pretty pungent, but that’s about as uncomfortable as it gets. In terms of the process, there’s some setting time involved (about ten minutes for the perming lotion), and the therapist will perm, tint and condition in that order.