Introduced in 1916, eyelash extensions have only grown in popularity and sophistication. It should come as no surprise then to learn that lash studios are flourishing. “Lash extensions are no longer a niche beauty service,” says Edward Le, cofounder and president of Amazing Lash Studio. “From magazines to billboards, long and luscious eyelashes are being seen on women everywhere, motivating others to do the same. It has become one of the fastest growing areas in the beauty industry, accounting for $1 billion a year in a $40 billion-a-year industry, with $45 million a year grossed in eyelash extensions alone.” At the forefront of this emerging industry, Amazing Lash Studio has 30 locations nationwide and plans to open 35 additional studios this year.
Claria Nieves, owner of Lash Maxx (Dallas), realized early on the potential of opening a studio dedicated to lash extensions. “As an esthetician, former makeup artist, and longtime member of the beauty industry, it’s my job to stay ahead of the trends and on the forefront of innovation,” says Nieves. “I first encountered lash extensions in 2006 on a job and immediately recognized their power. They were going to be the next big thing, and I wanted to be a part of it.” According to her, studios specializing in them were scarce. As a result, she acted quickly to fill the void by opening Lash Maxx in 2007. “As an early adopter of the service, I have had the pleasure of watching America’s obsession with lash extensions sweep the nation for the last eight years,” says Nieves.
Wanting to create a high-end lash studio that put guests at ease, owner Shellyann Bainlardi opened The Lash Loft (New York City) in 2013. “The New York woman is very busy, as she has to take care of her children, work, husband, home, and more,” says salon manager Janelys Matos. “She is always looking for services and ways to cut her ‘getting ready’ time in the morning, and eyelash extensions do just that.”
The Power to Transform
The popularity of lash extensions and the studios that specialize in them can be attributed, in part, to the visual impact extensions create. “They really change the way clients look, which in turn changes the way they think about themselves,” says Nieves. “We find that the average woman doesn’t want to spend a lot of time getting ready in the morning, so we consider lash extensions not only a beauty solution but also a functional solution. With lash extensions, clients can wake up every morning with perfect lashes that look and feel fabulous.” According to Matos, women suffering from hair loss, either as a result of genetics or chemotherapy, can also benefit from a boost in self-esteem with a simple eyelash enhancement.
Helping to drive the trend, celebs such as Beyoncé, Kim Kardashian, and Katy Perry have all made lush lashes a part of their everyday style. Fortunately, women needn’t go to great lengths to achieve their own eye-catching look. Today’s extensions come in a variety of lengths, colors, materials, and more. “Most clients want faux mink lashes,” says Matos. “These lashes are essentially synthetic mink eyelashes that get coated to give the thicker mascara-look illusion. Also, most clients look for natural thicknesses and lengths but a lot of volume.” Whatever the desired look—dramatic, flirty, or natural—extensions can provide the transformation clients covet.
The Perfect Pairing
While the ability to specialize in the application of extensions is a major draw for clients interested in finding a skilled practitioner, there is also the allure of finding complementary services, such as brow-related offerings. In addition to lash extensions, Lash Maxx also offers customized brow services, including shaping and tinting. The Lash Loft also lists full body waxing, lash tinting, and permanent makeup among its offerings. LashDip, an innovative cosmetic application, is available at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique (New York City). Each lash is coated with black gel and then cold cured into place by a certified LashDip artist. The service can replicate any desired mascara style and can be individually tailored. The boutique also offers permanent makeup services. For guests who like to multitask, manicures and pedicures are available while clients are getting their lashes done. Blushington Makeup and Beauty Lounge (multiple locations) was created as a convenient one-stop-shop for all beauty needs, including eyebrow, lip, and chin waxing, brow and lash tinting, and brow maintenance. “Lash extensions are a growing trend and still continue to dominate the beauty industry,” says founder and CEO Stephi Maron. “We are actually going to start providing brow extension services soon in all three locations. It’s the new and hottest trend right now.”
The Art of Promotion
Special occasions, such as weddings or other big events, can often motivate clients to seek out lash extension services. Fortunately, once clients see the dramatic transformation extensions provide, it doesn’t take much prodding to keep them coming back for more. Like manicures and pedicures, lash extensions require return visits, as touch-ups every three to four weeks are necessary to maintain the look.
To attract new clients, many lash lounges focus on social media. “This year, we recognized the importance of social media in our brand marketing,” says Nieves. “Instagram has become an invaluable tool for us, as we’ve encountered a large influx of new clients based on social sharing. We like to post before-and-after shots of our clients, and, of course, truly appreciate when they share their own photos of our work with their followers.” This eye-catching trend is here to stay, as spa-goers discover a growing number of specialty lash boutiques near them.
Enhance the look of clients’ lashes with products from the following companies.—Jessica Morrobel
1. AngelEye Lashes Lash Prep: Designed to prep lashes for extensions, this primer cleans debris, dust, and mascara while promoting a fast and long-lasting adhesion. www.angeleyelashes.com
2. Bella Lash Extensions Crystal Drop Sealant: Created to seal and protect extension adhesives, this sealant provides shine and increases the bonding strength of lash extensions. www.bellalashextensions.com
3. Eylure London Texture Pre-Glued Lashes: These loosely woven, reusable, and latex-free lashes contain a pre-glued band for easy application, adding volume and length. www.eylure.com
4. Largest Lashes Lash Lift Premium Pack: Featuring individual sachets of permanent, setting, and nourish- ing lotions, this kit is available in a convenient carrying case with instructions and tips to create lush, glamorous lashes. www.largestlashes.com
5. Lash BeLong Lash Extension Mini Kit: Containing lashes, adhesive, moisturizing gel pads, tweezers, lash brushes, and aftercare instructions, this kit allows for a variety of application techniques and methods. www.lashbelong.com
6. LashDip The LashPaints: Available in a variety of colors, including black, blue, green, teal, and purple, these water-based mascaras are designed for use over professional lash applications for a pop of color. www.lashdipshop.com
7. Minkys Volume Upgrade Eyelash Extensions: These thin, lightweight strands can be applied with the Volume Upgrade Adhesive and Silicone Adhesive Palette (shown) using a variety of techniques to achieve a custom voluminous look. www.minkys.com
8. M.S. Apothecary by Mary Schook Cherry Blooms Fiber Mascara: This kit contains a mascara gel and a tube of dry nylon black fibers to create the instant effect of eyelash extensions. www.msapothecary.com
9. NovaLash Curly Curl Lash Extensions: These curly lash extensions are available in lengths from 8mm to 14mm and in thicknesses of .15mm, .20mm, and .25mm to accentuate eyes. www.novalash.com
10. PremierLash-Designer Lashes Faux Mink Swarovski Strip Lash: Ideal for stage performances, these faux mink strip lashes are accented with Swarovski crystals and can be worn multiple times with proper care. www.premierlash.com
11. Stella Lash C Curl Single Length Trays: Available in lengths from 7mm to 14mm, these trays contain 16 lines of black lashes labeled with curl size. www.skinlashstudio.com
12. Xtreme Lashes FlexFusion Adhesive with Rapid Cure Technology: This hypoallergenic extension adhesive dries quickly and delivers flexibility for a seamless and long-lasting attachment. www.xtremelashes.com