Lash extensions are something like hair extensions - on the smallest, most accurate and detailed scale. Tiny, individual false lashes made of polyester, silk or natural mink fur are glued on to your natural lashes one by one using fine-point tweezers, giving a totally seamless effect that adds length, volume and colour to the lashes.
Asma Docrat is a beauty therapist and lash-fanatic who has been practicing the fine art of lash extensions for some time, and has recently teamed up with Becca in South Kensington to offer her lashes as part of their range of treatments and services. She uses a mix of Jinny Lash and Novalash synthetic lashes.
A flick through Asma's impressive portfolio shows the dramatic effect lash extensions can create, opening up the eye area and making the eye colour seem more vivid. She has clients of all ages, many of whom come back time after time, hooked on the impressive results.
The process is quite painstaking, as you'd expect, and can take upwards of an hour and a half, depending on the number of lashes applied and how your natural lashes curl (very curly or very straight lashes take longer to apply, because the extension fibres are curly and apply more easily when glued onto natural lashes with a similar curl to them). The lashes come in different sizes and thicknesses, which can be blended together to get the right effect for each client.
Lash extensions can last from 2-4 weeks, depending on the natural growth cycle of your lashes (i.e. how often they drop out) and how well you care for them. To make them last, you need to...
- avoid oil-based eye makeup remover, and keep moisturiser and eye cream away from the extensions (as the oil breaks down the bonds in the glue)
- avoid using products with high concentrations of alcohol, urea or natural solvents on the lashes
- don't rub or pull on the lashes
- don't sleep on your side or front if possible, as lashes will rub on the pillow
- avoid getting shampoo on the lashes
- don't use waterproof mascara - if mascara is needed, use water-soluble types
- don't get the lashes wet or go into steamy environments for 24 hours after they're applied (including baths and showers!)
On arriving at Becca, I met Asma and we chatted about the lash extension process and the after-care my lashes would need. I signed a disclaimer and Asma looked at my eyes and decided what sort of lashes she would use. We were limited to shorter lashes because I wear glasses - she was careful to make sure that the extensions wouldn't rub against the insides of my glasses when completed. When all my questions were answered, I lay down on a massage table on my back so Asma could begin her work.
The first part of the process is to tape down the lower lashes out of the way, so there's no danger of the glue getting into them and gluing the top and bottom lashes together. Micropore tape is used. Once the lower lashes are taped down, the eyes are closed and a few minutes' wait allows the eyes to settle in position.
This was the only uncomfortable part of the process for me. My waterlines itched from the tape and it took around 5 minutes for the irritation to settle. Afterwards my eyes were a bit red. It wasn't unbearable or lasting, and is a normal part of the process, but it's worth mentioning in case you have particularly sensitive eyes.
With the tape in place, Asma began to work, lash by lash, applying the extensions with tweezers. Professional lash extension glue is latex-based and costs around £65 for 5ml. The higher the quality of the glue, the longer the extensions will stay on the lashes. The lashes are drawn through a small blob of glue before being laid on the natural lash, while the other lashes are held out of the way.
It took around an hour and a half for Asma to finish, but the time passed quite easily and I was surprised afterwards at how late it had become. It's quite relaxing lying back on the couch and Asma was great, putting me at ease and chatting with me to keep me entertained. She's planning to make the experience more treatment-like and luxurious, with candles, blankets and foot-masks for clients during the process.
So - here are the photos of my enhanced lashes, after 1 day of wear:
They feel very comfortable to wear, completely unlike strip lashes. The glue is applied to the lashes, not the skin, so there's no sensation of tightness or pulling when you move your eye. They are slightly stiff to the touch, but no more than natural lashes with mascara on them would be.
I'll report again on how long they last and how my lashes feel after they're removed in a few weeks.
Disclosure - lashes applied free for purposes of review