Like most women who dread the morning alarm but know they need to get up in time to make themselves presentable for work, I was looking for a solution to cut down on my beauty routine. One area that it seemed that might be possible was my eyelashes. Oh, to have been born with naturally-luscious lashes that were long and curled! But alas no, I had to spend time each morning faking it.

A few years back, I thought I had found the answer to giving myself beautiful, effort-free lashes - extensions! This was years before lash studios began popping up everywhere, and eyelash extensions were still a very specialized treatment. I wanted the best, and luckily for me I was recommended to an amazing technician. His name was Daniel Dinh, a Vietnamese eyelash artist with a high-end Beverly Hills studio frequented by the likes of Beyoncé and Oprah (and he’s not shy about telling you that). And, also luckily for me, he kept his original Westminster studio open which he graces with his presence once a week, to continue to serve the clients that supported him when he was building his business.

The Eyelash Extension Process

My first visit and every subsequent visit thereafter was relaxing and wonderful. I would be invited to a small private room and asked to sit in a comfortable chair which reclined as though I was about to get a facial. The room was a bit chilly, but I was layered with light blankets until I was comfortable. Next, he would ask me to close my eyes as he added a protective paper mask just below them. Strips of medical tape would go over these and on my eyelids, presumably to keep my eyes from opening during the treatment. It felt like my eyelids were being taped together until all that was exposed was my lash line.

After asking if I was comfortable, he would begin inserting the new lashes one by one onto my existing ones. The interesting (some would say daunting) thing about eyelash extensions is that you can never see the progress as the technician is working - you just have to sit back and trust that they are creating a beautiful set of lashes customized to your eye shape.

Towards the end of the session, I felt a breeze on my face - a miniature fan used to dry the glue. Daniel would hold this in place for about 3-5 minutes as he did one last check of my new lashes. Once satisfied that he'd made me look fabulous, the medical tape and masks came off. I was warned to open my eyes slowly as there might be some stinging, and oh boy did I feel it! But it quickly went away, and I was given a handheld mirror to see his masterpiece. The results were glorious: the beautifully long and full lashes of my dreams. I was so happy!

The process overall was a long one, but honestly I didn't notice... because I fell asleep! That's just how calming and comfortable the whole thing was (well, except for that stinging right at the end). You see, the reason I'll never get eyelash extensions again has nothing to do with the procedure itself. I actually loved that part, it was a great experience. But here is why I still can't recommend it...

Pros and Cons of Eyelash Extensions

The Problems With Eyelash Extensions

The Price

Eyelash extensions aren't a one-time thing. They require regular maintenance. Since Daniel was a higher-end eyelash artist, my initial treatment was $250 (still a bargain compared to what his Beverly Hills clients pay), and then fills were $90.

I've heard that most women need to get a top-up every 2 to 4 weeks. But Daniel worked his magic and somehow did my extensions in such a way that I could go 6 to 8 weeks between refills. Still, at $90 a pop, it added up. I had regular lash extensions for around 3 years and honestly, I've never added up the total cost, so let's give it a go now:

52 weeks per year + 8 weeks between fills = around 6 fills per year (and that's me being lucky and not needing them too often)

That's $540 per year on fills x 3 years + the initial $250 treatment = $1,870!

The lashes were indeed gorgeous, but were they that gorgeous? Just think of all the fabulous haircuts or facials I could have had instead.

The Long-Term Damage

The glue technicians use to apply eyelash extensions is semi-permanent. It's a very strong chemical, and you're applying it right along your lash line where it can impede the growth of hair follicles. I know this because it happened to me. Towards the end of those three years, I noticed that my extensions weren't holding on as long as they used to, and my natural lashes were falling out more easily. In essence, my eyelids were going bald thanks to the extensions. Not exactly the look I was going for.

If you take a 4-week break from extensions, you should see regrowth of your natural lash line. If you don't, it's been damaged and continuing with the extensions will only cause further damage. For me, it has now been years since my last eyelash extensions, and my natural lashes never fully recovered. They're less full now than in their pre-extension days.

The Time

If you remember, I got into this to shave a few minutes off of my morning makeup routine. In that sense, it worked. However, the added time of going to all those refill appointments more than cancelled out the moments I saved in front of the mirror.

In fact, I wound up spending longer on the rest of my eye makeup, because I had a difficult time angling my brushes to not hit my new lashes with every stroke. I also began to spend longer washing my face, taking extra special care not to get too much water or cleanser on my eyes, which might have weakened the glue securing the extensions.

The Inconvenience

It wasn't just the inconvenience of having to take the time out to go to my top-up appointments. I even had to get accustomed to sleeping in a different position, because the last thing you want is to have a crease in your lashes from sleeping on your face all night. And then there was the inevitable annoyance when your lashes were on their last two weeks before a fill, and went from full-of-volume to a few straggly strays resembling spider legs.

Eyelash Extensions Vs. Strip Lashes

All in all, I don’t recommend lash extensions to anyone anymore. I advocate strip lashes. Why? Mostly because strip lashes don’t damage your own eyelashes or your hair follicles. You are applying the strips to your skin above the lash line, saving the lashes themselves from all that glue and the constant weight of an added extension.

Also, if you practice you can get quite good at strip lashes and pop them on in about 30 seconds flat. Seriously, that’s how long it takes me to add my lashes every morning. Hardly something you need to set your alarm extra-early for, right?

This is why I created Mademoiselle Lash. As an everyday lash wearer, I wanted to create strip lashes that could be worn - and make the wearer feel gorgeous - on a daily basis. No huge expense, no time-consuming refills, no damage to your natural lashes. Same gorgeous results. This is just my humble opinion of course, but I recommend you save your eyelashes and go for strips. I've tried both ways and I'm never going back to extensions!

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