I have had many clients in the past 8+ years come into my treatment room and talk about how they never should have started wearing lash extensions because it destroyed their natural lashes. This always makes me so sad, because, not only is it unnecessary, but many times the damage is not completely reversible. It can usually be helped, but the lashes will probably not go back to the length and health they had before the damage occurred.
And this really doesn't have to be the case. If lash extensions are applied correctly, with professional products, and the technician understands the condition of the client's natural lashes, your natural lashes shouldn't be permanently damaged.
Lash extensions are never a one size fits all treatment. Everyone has different lash lengths, health, and density. All of these must be considered before deciding what size and type of lashes should be applied for you. Your technician should be talking to you about what kinds of looks you want and what expectations you can have from their work depending on all the conditions of your lashes.
If you have very short lashes and fine hair, and you tell your lash tech you want the longest volume lashes possible and they do it, you shouldn't be happy. Because damage doesn't occur with just one set. It occurs slowly over time. In about 6-12 months you're going to get frustrated with your tech. She used to put on so many more lashes, now there are gaps. She's being lazy! MMM, no. She's probably not. She's probably just working with a lot less natural lashes because yours are so damaged they won't grow right anymore.
And this is the damage that is exceptionally hard to reverse. This is the kind of damage that can require you to use a $250 lash serum morning and night every day for the rest of your life in order to have decent lashes.
I've compiled six tips to help you keep your lashes as long and strong as they can be while wearing extensions.
Take a hair, nail, & skin vitamin. These are very easy to find in any grocery or drug store. I take mine in gummy form, because who wants to swallow a pill when you can just eat a gummy strawberry each day? I don't have a specific brand I prefer, but I do highly recommend the ones with Biotin in them. These vitamins will give your hair strength and helps lengthen your body's hair cycle, letting your lashes grow longer. Bonus side benefit: these vitamins help the hair on your head, strengthen your nails, and keep your skin a little healthier too.
Make sure your technician is using proper adhesive. There are SO MANY adhesives on the market, literally hundreds. And lots of them are great. And lots of them are terrible. A red flag should be the cost of your appointment. Proper lash extension adhesive is expensive. It should never come off of Amazon.com. It should be stored at proper temperatures or it gets ruined. It has to be replaced every 30-60 days, no matter if you've used it all or not. It is strong and it works fast, like 2-5 seconds fast. The biggest red flag here? You should NEVER, EVER, EVER see adhesive on your lashes. Proper adhesive is very thin. It should never be goopy or have balled up areas. The synthetic lash is dipped into it then placed on your natural lash and your natural lash absorbs the adhesive immediately. If you can see adhesive on your set, either the adhesive is sub-par, not proper lash extension adhesive, or the technician is using far too much adhesive. All of which will damage your lashes.
Never wear tabbed lashes as lash extensions. With the advent of volume lashes came a rush of cheap alternatives. Volume lashes take more time, more skill, and come with a higher product cost. Enter technicians trying to cheat using tabbed lashes to create volume looks. I have never seen lashes destroyed so quickly. Tabbed lashes are those ones you see at Walmart or Sephora that look like a little fan with a ball at the end. These lashes were created to be used just like strip lashes. They are placed on the eyelid skin close to the lash line with temporary adhesives, such as the brand Duo. What happened (and is still happening) is some lash techs (surprisingly also located at your local Walmart and such) use lash extension adhesive and place them directly on your lashes. As you can imagine, these are so heavy they break lashes very quickly and damage follicles. You should never see a little ball at the end of your lash extensions. True volume lashes, even the premade kind, are only held together by adhesive or are heat treated to be bonded together. They are not lumpy or bumpy. They are beautiful little fan works of art that take time. This is another red flag. If you're in and out in 30 minutes for a lash set, something is not right. That is not enough time to properly place lashes.
Keep the proper length ratio. There is actual math to lash extensions. Lashes can only handle so much extra weight and length. The formula is an extra 2-4 millimeters beyond the natural lash for the typical set of classic lashes. That means that if your lashes are 6 millimeters long, which is about the average of the clients I see, at most, a 10 millimeter long lash is what I should place, and only if your hair is thick and strong. That also means that your lashes should never be the same length across, because your natural lashes aren't. They are shorter at the edges. If a technician places lashes that are too long or heavy for you, your lashes will start breaking, growing crooked, and eventually stop growing back at all because of the damage to your follicle. If you notice that a lot of your lashes are getting twisted up and growing crooked at all your fills, that's one of the first signs that your lashes are starting to show damage. You should be able to brush your lashes out and have them fall back in line.
Wash them. Your eyes constantly stay moist. They also constantly have bacteria and mites around them. When you have an overgrowth of bacteria and mites, you will experience an infection. If you do not wash your lashes regularly and have crusties build up, you are building a beautiful house full of lavish furnishings and a stocked fridge of food for bacteria and mites to live in. They will be so thankful and replicate to show appreciation. And your eyes will become itchy, red, inflamed. And if you continue to ignore it, you can experience problems with your vision and loose your lashes completely. Wash them daily with a gentle cleanser that is safe for adhesives.
Find a good technician and stick with them. Your lash technician is there to not just bring more attention to your eyes. They're there to protect the integrity of your lashes and the health of your eyes. Staying with the same technician allows them to keep a close eye on this, each and every visit. A new technician will not know if your lashes are changing in any way. They will think that what they have in front of them right now is how it has always been. Staying consistent will allow your technician to adjust and make recommendations based on what she sees going on.
Having lash extensions is serious maintenance and any technician that doesn't respect this isn't truly caring for your beauty and health. I hope that these tips help you have healthy lashes throughout the entire time you choose to have extensions!