We’ve all seen BAD eyelash extensions before.
Those incredibly thick, clumpy, heavy-looking black caterpillars perched atop the struggling eyelids of a fellow female who just wanted her eyelashes to stand out a little more.
And I as a professional lash technician have seen the aftermath of those extensions, and it’s not pretty. Everything from clumps of glue, right through to women whose natural lashes have been ripped out thanks to bad lash application.
I’ve put together a list of what you should try and avoid if you’re looking to get eyelash extensions:
- Too Much Glue
Far too much glue used because in the name of getting as many clients through the door it’s quicker to slap on dollops of glue and drop lashes on top.
Not only does it look bad, but it causes lashes to stick together with eventually creates tension between lashes and pulls out your natural lashes prematurely. It means your extensions won’t last as long, and you’ll lose natural lashes. The only bonus is for the salon who saved a bit of time on your appointment!
- Lashes Too Thick or Long
There’s a time and a place for everything, but most of my clients want eyelashes that accentuate the eye and don’t look obviously fake – simply an extension of your natural lashes. BUT for some reason, many salons believe the best look is that ‘extreme’ lash – the kind you’d expect to see as part of a costume or going down a catwalk.
The problem here is that they use super thick single lashes as well as super-long lashes. It gives an extreme look but at the same time looks incredibly unnatural.
I regularly do eyelash removals from other salons who used lashes that were over 10 times the thickness of the lashes I use. This basically allows them to add fewer total extensions to give a very full look, meaning they do more clients in less time. It also means more surface area for the glue, so they can just drop it on there.
The real downside to this monster lashes is that they HURT! If you sleep on your side then you know that one of your eyes will get pressed a little by your pillow – with these lashes being so thick and stiff they tend to dig into your eyelid and eye which definitely doesn’t end in the greatest night sleep.
- Poor Equipment and Lash Quality
It’s difficult to do a fantastic job with cheap equipment or low-quality lashes. Everything from the tweezers to the lash tape can make a huge difference in the outcome.
Then there’s the glue. Skimping on the glue quality can mean poor lash adhesion so they fall out quicker, or don’t stick from day one. And even worse, the cheap glues can have harsh chemicals inside that can affect your eye and skin even if the glue doesn’t touch anything but your lash because the vapour can be so strong that it causes the bad reaction. Anything from redness, to swelling, all the way to stinging eyes.
I use the highest quality glues available, but if you’re super sensitive to chemicals then I still suggest coming in to see me and I’ll put a small test patch on your arm so we can see if you have a reaction within 24 hours. If nothing happens then that gives you the green light to get your extensions 🙂
- Uncontrolled Temperature and Humidity
This isn’t common knowledge for lash clients but the environment is extremely important to ensure the glue works properly.
Both temperature and humidity have to be within a specific range or the glue simply won’t work well and the lashes will fall out prematurely.
The glue I use requires a room humidity between 50 and 70%, and if you’re from the Gold Coast then you know that there can be some super dry days, with humidity levels often plummeting to below 30%, and on the other hand, it can get super humid to the point that it’s uncomfortable (and the lashes won’t stick!). If you’re from even more northern parts of Australia then you’ll know that the humidity can often hit 100%!
The point is that it needs to be controlled.
I use an automated system so that when my room humidity drops below 55% a professional-grade humidifier kicks in and pushes it back up to 65%, then it turns back off again. This keeps the humidity right in that sweet spot so the glue works exactly as it should and your lashes last longer.
- Questionable Hygiene
It’s a HUGE problem. Your eyes are so fragile and so incredibly susceptible to infection from bacteria.
You’ve heard stories of people getting eye infections like conjunctivitis after getting eyelash extensions, and the reason is obvious – The salon wasn’t using sterile tools!
Imagine if the client before you came in with conjunctivitis, got their lashes done and then those tools were used on you. You’d basically be guaranteed to get it! And once you’ve got it, it’s too late – better get the Chlorsig drops and postpone any human contact for half the week!
Everything that goes near your eyes should be completely sterilised. My personal process includes boiling all my tools AND running them through a sterilisation machine – some would say that doing both isn’t necessary, but I feel more comfortable knowing that there’s no chance of infection from stray bacteria.
- Not ‘Prepping’ the Lashes
The way extensions work is pretty self-explanatory – the new lashes are glued on to your natural lashes. Pretty simple, right?
But a big problem occurs when there is anything left on your natural lashes such as old mascara, cleanser or any type of oil (natural or not). Most lash salons will simply remind you to give you lashes a scrub with some cleanser before your appointment and not to wear mascara that day…
Yet I guarantee you won’t be able to get it all off with a simple scrub.
Before each set of lashes, I do a super deep clean with a saline solution and small fine bristle brush. I keep cleaning until I can wipe it on a tissue and not see any discolouring at all. You’d be surprised at how much old mascara can be on your lashes when they look and feel clean.
When salons don’t take this step it puts a barrier between your natural lash and the glue, meaning that the extensions won’t stick properly and will fall out earlier. Exactly the opposite of what you want.
- Inexperienced Lash Technicians
The dark secret of eyelash extensions is that there’s no formal qualifications or certification required to start work. As I write this, in Australia you don’t need to be a beautician or even have gone through any training at all.
And it’s an obvious fact that everyone has to start somewhere. So what usually happens is that people just getting into the lash extension business will find work at a salon that offers cheaper extensions but they also don’t pay their staff well.
It’s a real gamble because you often don’t know how much experience (if any) your lash technician has had…
You know when you go to a hair salon it’s usually a hairdressing trainee who washes your hair. The salon is upfront about it, and if they’ve got some experience and are a few years into their degree the salon might ask if you’d mind if the trainee helped with your hair. Maybe they’d add a few foils, or do the blow-dry at the end – but the salon is always upfront and you know that it’s a person just learning who doesn’t have a lot of experience yet.
As I said – everyone starts somewhere, and there’s usually nothing wrong with that.
The problem is that in the lash extension industry there are not the same requirements of experience that you could literally be someones first set of lashes and not know it! You could be their test subject.
I myself did complete formal lash extension training and did dozens of sets of lashes before taking on my first real client. Since then I’ve worked with thousands of clients and of course, I’m biased, but I believe I’ve mastered the craft – not from any particular skill (other than actually caring about what the client wants) but because I’ve simply got a lot of experience.
So what’s the Result Of All This Bad ‘Stuff’?
All this adds up to lashes that look pretty bad, and it makes hunting around for the best prices almost impossible since at the cheaper places chance are that you’ll encounter at least some of the bad stuff listed above.
That’s because from a business perspective it makes sense. There are more profits to be made if the business can pay the staff less, while getting them to do more clients, using cheaper tools and materials. The business owner wins and the clients often unknowingly leave with pretty crummy lashes.
And bad lash extensions can cause a lot of problems.
The most common I see is too much glue which makes multiple lashes stick to a single extension – this puts a lot of strain on the natural lash and eventually tears the natural lashes out.
In the short term that means thin, sparse, gappy natural lashes, making it difficult to add new extensions because I only like to add extensions to strong healthy lashes.
In the long term if your natural lashes keep getting ripped out by bad lash extensions your eyelid can actually start to build up a layer of scar tissue which prohibits your natural lashes from growing in that area. So over time, you’ll notice fewer and fewer natural lashes coming out.
This can be the real danger of bad lash extensions. It’s kind of like hair removal for your natural eyelashes – definitely not something you’d want!
So How Can You Get The Best Eyelash Extensions?
Here’s my list of a few of the hallmarks of a good lash salon or lash technician:
- Check that they’re well-reviewed
I recommend checking their Google page for reviews. It’s hard to get fake reviews on Google because the reviewer needs to have a google account and Google has a lot of clever ways of ensuring that anything fake gets deleted. Plus most of us can get a feeling when a business has a bunch of fake reviews – so go with your gut.
It also helps if the individual lash tech is mentioned. It’s not super helpful if the reviews just say “salon ABC is amazing”, because as mentioned earlier you could end up seeing someone at that salon who is inexperienced. If you see a certain name mentioned a lot, try to book with that person.
- Ask if the salon humidity is controlled
All glue has an optimal humidity that it works best at. You might sound a little crazy asking this question, but a good salon will understand, and you can immediately rule out the ones that don’t know what you’re talking about because they either don’t know what they’re doing, or they simply don’t care.
- Check their Before and After photos
Being able to browse a list of before and after photos allows you to know exactly how you want your lashes to look, and it shows you the quality of the work that salon can do.
The last thing you want is to arrive for your appointment at a salon and get asked to lay down immediately. Instead, they should have a process for figuring out what look you want, and advising on what lash style would look best for your type of eye, and your face shape.
Here’s some of my before and afters to give you an idea.
- Make Sure They’re a Specialist
A general rule is that it’s better to go to a specialist than a generalist. If the salon only does eyelash extensions, then you know that’s what they’re best at. It’s all they do all day everyday – so you know they’ll be good.
If you go to a salon that does hairdressing, spray tans, waxing, injectables, lash perms, makeup, massages and your bookkeeping then they’re probably not spectacular at any of those things.
That one’s more of an opinion, but it’s served me well in life so far!
- Check for Photos of the Salon
I’ve been to some bad salons in my time – but you may not mind certain things that I simply hate, so this is just a matter of finding a salon that suits your preference.
Years ago I went to a home salon and the lady was actually great – she always did a perfect job. The problem was that instead of laying on a proper lash table I was laying on a couch with my head on the armrest, and she would have the TV on and be semi watching it while she did my lashes – and the craziest part was that her cat would often come and lay on my stomach!
That’s a extreme example and it’s funny to think back about, but it happened to me so my tip to you would be to check out at least a few photos of the salon first. That might be on their website or their Google of Facebook page.
In my own home salon, I try to create the atmosphere of a spa – that’s how I chose the name ‘The Lash Spa’. I’ve decorated the room to be very cosy, inviting and a little girly. I have the scent of lemongrass wafting through the air, and relaxing music gently playing in the background. I keep it warm in winter and cool in summer so you’re always comfortable and I put a cushion under your head and knees as you lay on the super comfy lash table.
All this creates an atmosphere of peacefulness that has at least half of my clients falling asleep during their appointment.
So now it’s up to you to go out there and choose where you’ll get your eyelash extensions!
In writing this article I gave my opinions that I’ve formed as a client of many lash salons over the years, and as a professional lash technician who’s been in the industry since 2011 when extensions were first becoming popular in Australia…
Although it definitely seems like I was recommending my own business in many parts of the article I was simply explaining the methods and procedures I use as a lash tech – You can use these as a benchmark in your search for a lash salon near you.
And if you have any questions about lashes or salons then please let me know. I’d love to help you find the perfect set of lashes for you 🙂
Finally, a small request. If this article has helped you in any way I’d love it if you could share it by clicking the buttons below. It really helps my small business grow. Thanks so much, lovely lady!