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I Got Lash Extensions for the FIRST Time! Here’s What to Expect

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Before a big date recently, I decided to get lash extensions—something I’ve been wanting to do for YEARS but have been too scared to try.

I’m so glad I did it! Now I’m hooked! I’ve gotten two lash fills since then, and below, I’ll describe what to expect for your first eyelash extension appointment.

How to prepare for your first lash extension appointment

Avoid drinking coffee before your appointment

Yep, believe it or not, consuming caffeine can complicate your lash appointment because caffeine tends to make people’s eyelids flutter, making it harder for your lash tech to attach the extensions.

Talk to your lash tech about it. Some are adamant about it, while others are more lax. My lash tech, for instance, is used to having to work on fluttery eyelids. I didn’t drink caffeine the first two appointments with her, but by the third one, I was curious (and I was craving my morning coffee!). So I drank coffee before my third appointment (my second lash fill), and I DID notice a difference. My eyelids were definitely more fluttery, and even though she didn’t mention it, my lash tech messed up on some of the extensions. There was leftover glue, and she had missed a lash…so, it’s best not to risk it if you can help it.

Consider bringing earphones and listening to music or a podcast

You’re going to be lying down with your eyes closed for more than TWO HOURS with probably no to minimal talking. Find a way to stay entertained, or you can take a nap. Load up your favorite music or podcasts and listen to them with earphones while your lash tech works on you.

Use the bathroom beforehand!

Again, you’ll be there for more than two hours if it’s a full lash extension appointment (as opposed to a lash fill appointment). You CANNOT get up mid-appointment to use the bathroom because your lash tech cannot remove the gelpads and tape and everything, so you’d have to keep your eyes closed while going to the bathroom (obviously, not ideal).

So be sure to take a potty break BEFORE the lash appointment begins.

Bring inspiration pics for lash extensions you like

Your lash artist will take the time to consult with you about the look you’d like to achieve. It can help to peruse Google Images or Pinterest and show these inspiration photos to your lash artist.

Just be aware that everyone’s eyes are different; they’re different sizes and shapes. So just because you saw a certain lash type look great one one girl does not mean it’ll look good on you. Be open to your lash artist’s advice on this.

Know the different types of lash extensions: Classic, Hybrid, Volume

Classic

This is the most basic and natural level of eyelash extensions. Each eyelash will have ONE lash extension attached to it.

Hybrid

Step it up a level with hybrid, which will attach one eyelash extension per eyelash AND fill in some gaps with fans (which are multiple lash extensions stuck together that fan out).

Volume

This is your thickest, most dramatic lash extension. Multiple extensions are applied to a single eyelash to create a fanned-out look.

Know the different lash extension shapes: Doll Eye, Cat Eye, Natural Eye

Natural Eye

This follows the shaping of your natural lashes.

Doll Eye

With the Doll Eye shape, the middle of your eyelid will have longer extensions than the outer corners of your eyes. This gives a nice, open-eyed look. There IS another shape called Open Eye, which is even more dramatic, with even longer lashes in the center.

Cat Eye

Speaks for itself. Lashes get longer from the inner corner to the outer corner, for a winged edge look that’s like a cat eye.

What to Expect at Your First Lash Extension Appointment

The lash artist will ask you what you want.

For a first-timer, your lash artist will do a quick consultation before she gets started. She’ll ask to see inspiration photos, and she’ll ask you what you’d like to achieve.

Things she might ask you:

  • Do you have any inspiration photos that show what look you’d like to achieve?
  • Do you want Classic, Hybrid, or Volume lash extensions?
  • Do you want Natural, Open, Doll, or Cat Eye shapes?
  • Do you need to use the bathroom before we get started?

You’ll lie down on a bed and close your eyes.

Next, you’ll relax on the bed and close your eyes. Your lash artist might readjust your neck or head to ensure she can work properly on your lashes.

The lash artist will clean your lashes with gentle soap and water.

Then, your lash artist will take a look at your natural lashes to see what she’s working with. She’ll then apply a gentle cleanser to your lashes and then tilt your head to the left and right as she gently pours water to wash the cleanser away.

The lash artist will apply gel undereye pads and tape.

To isolate your lashes, she will place gel pads beneath your eye and place your eyelashes on top of the gel pads. She might also use a sort of masking tape to reposition your skin so she can access your lashes better. This does NOT hurt. It feels very gentle.

You must keep your eyes closed the ENTIRE process until the lash extensions are complete.

Do NOT open your eyes at any point until she tells you. That’s because the eyelash extension adhesive has fumes that can cause a burning and stinging sensation.

It’s best NOT to talk, but ask your lash artist because she might be okay with it.

Talking is tricky because it causes your eyelids to move, which can make it harder for your lash artist to apply the extensions. It’s best not to talk, but some lash artists might be okay with it. Ask your lash artist what she prefers.

You will feel like someone is gently tickling your lashes.

Young woman undergoing eyelash extension procedure, closeup

Getting lash extensions should NEVER hurt. The primary thing you’ll feel is it’s like someone is gently tickling your lashes. The lash tech should never actually poke your eye or anything. What she is doing is using special tools to separate each individual lash and apply the adhesive and extension to it. The extensions do NOT glue to the base of your lash. Again, it shouldn’t actually touch your skin. It’ll just feel like a light tickling feeling because you’ll feel your lashes moving.

IF you feel burning, it’s the fumes of the adhesive getting into your eyes. Tell your lash artist, and she will fix it.

When the lash artist is done applying extensions, she will blow a gentle fan over them to cure the adhesive.

When the lash artist says it’s time to do so, open your eyes.

You might feel slight burning from the adhesive curing or some lashes might stick. Tell your lash artist.

Eyelash Extension aftercare

Your lash tech SHOULD explain lash extension aftercare to you. She will give you spoolies (like mascara wands) to brush your extensions twice a day. You also will want to purchase lash extension cleaner from her while you’re there if you don’t already have some. DO NOT use regular soap or facial cleanser on your lash extensions!

  • Clean your lash extensions morning and night with lash extension cleanser.
  • Brush your lash extensions morning and night with a spoolie brush.
  • Do NOT apply oils, regular soap, face cleanser, setting spray, or mascara to your lash extensions.
  • Try not to sleep on your side or on your face and thus crush your lash extensions. I sleep on my back and wear a sleep mask that has a concavity so it doesn’t crush my eyes.

First-Time Lash Extensions: FAQs

How long does an eyelash extension appointment take?

If it’s your first appointment, or you’re coming in with NO lash extensions currently on your eye, the appointment will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes. If it’s a lash FILL appointment (which is the approximately two-week followup you do to fill in gaps and maintain your lash extensions), it’ll take about 1 hour.

I know, I know 2+ hours seems excessive, right? But keep in mind that you lash artist is isolating each individual eyelash and carefully gluing an extension to it. It’s meticulous work!

How much do eyelash extensions cost?

My eyelash extensions (full set) cost $225. Each 60-minute lash fill appointment after that was $95. That does not include tax or tips.

What if I have an allergic reaction to the glue?

An allergic reaction or irritation was my BIGGEST fear that stopped me from trying lash extensions for YEARS.

First, allergic reactions to lash extensions, though possible, are RARE. Second, an allergic reaction is different from irritation.

Also, your reaction to the lash extensions could be delayed. You might feel fine the first hour after, but the next day, your eyes might swell.

Here are some precautions you can take to minimize the risk of puffy, swollen, or irritated eyes from lash extensions:

  • Ask your lash artist for a patch test to see how you react to the glue before going all-in with a full set of lashes.
  • Book your full set appointment FAR in advance of the big event. You do NOT want to try lash extensions for the first time EVER before, say, your wedding. Because IF you do have a reaction, there won’t be enough time to calm down your eyes before you walk down the aisle.
  • Ask your lash artist if she can use a glue for sensitive eyes. YES, there are special types of lash extension adhesives that are formulated for sensitive eyes. Instead of using
  • Go to a REPUTABLE lash artist. I cannot stress this enough: Don’t try to save money by DIYing lash extensions or going to someone who isn’t a trained, licensed professional (licensing depends on each state, but in most states, one is required). It’s worth it to spend the extra money to go to a professional who has the required training and lots of good reviews!

Can you get lash extensions wet?

YES! Your lash extensions can get wet, such as in swimming in a pool or the ocean. BUT, you need to make sure to clean them every morning and night with lash extension cleaner. That’s because the gunk from the ocean, for example, can mess with the adhesive.

How long must you wait before getting lash extensions wet?

Shocker: You probably DON’T need to wait. The old advice was to wait 24 hours before getting lash extensions wet, but adhesive has advanced since then. My lash artist told me I didn’t need to wait at all because the adhesive is cured (dried) by the time I leave my appointment. I got my lashes wet in the shower that night with no problem.

Can you put mascara on lash extensions?

NO! Do not put mascara on your lash extensions. Lash extensions replace your need for mascara.

My Verdict on Lash Extensions

I LOVE having lash extensions. I no longer have to put on eye makeup, and I LOVE not having raccoon eyes at the end of the day from the mascara flaking.

BUT, they are pricey. To maintain a schedule of getting a lash fill every two weeks, I end up spending at least $190 a month, not including the time it takes to commute to the salon and lie down for an hour. It’s pricey.

On top of that, you do have to brush and clean your lash extensions TWICE a day. So there is upkeep involved.

I’ve done three appointments at this point, but I might just get them professionally removed because I can’t afford to keep getting fills. I think I’d just do lash extensions for big occasions or vacations at this point.

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Advice for Millennials shares real-life advice from real-life millennials about all the things they wish they'd known—from finance to health to careers.

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