From the covers of magazines to fashion runways, the “lashes for days” look continues to be all the rage among women and, in turn, eyelash extension services remain one of the fastest-growing segments in the beauty industry. “This is due to the fact that they are extremely addicting to wear,” says Haley Chipman, founder of Bella Lash. “It makes the client feel so beautiful without any other makeup. Semi-permanent eyelash extensions provide many benefits to women, such as enhancing their overall personal image and confidence.”
Unlike eyelash extensions of the past, there are many more options available today when it comes to the material, shape, thickness, and length of lashes. “One of the main differences is that in the past, the lash industry worked with loose lashes,” says Scott Hoonakker, CFO at PremierLash-Designer Lashes. “Today, we are organizing lashes in trays for the speed and convenience of the lash stylist. In doing so, we are using new technology and fibers to better replicate a natural lash.”
Eyelash extensions are made from either mink, silk, or synthetic fibers or a combination of these materials. Real mink lashes are actual hair that comes from a mink, so they are soft and natural looking. According to Chipman, mink lashes only come in one diameter, which is the natural diameter of that animal’s hair, and they can be anywhere from three-to-four times more expensive than synthetic lashes. They also are more prone to losing their curl shape. Meanwhile, silk lashes tend to be finer and more closely resemble human hair. They help add length, but not volume, to natural lashes.
Synthetic lash fibers, which are made from a material called polybutylene terephthalate (PBT), come in a wide range of thicknesses, lengths, and cross sections, and their softness depends on the manufacturer, diameter, and cross section of the lash. “A lot of people may not know, but if you use a diameter comparable to the natural thickness of the real mink lashes (0.12mm), the synthetic lashes can be softer than the mink lashes,” says Chipman. There are several advantages to using synthetic lashes, such as the fact that they hold their shape more easily. They are also hypoallergenic and significantly cheaper than mink lashes. Fortunately, there are many options available to suit the needs and desires of all clients. “You can create a really light and fluffy look or a light natural look with a thinner diameter lash or a very heavy and dramatic look with a thicker lash,” says Chipman. “You can do anything for which you have the imagination.”
In addition to material, lash extensions are available in various curl types, including the most popular J-Curl, which has a soft curve; B-Curl, which has a very slight curl at the end of the extension; C-Curl, in which the curl starts at the mid- to mid-end of the extension; and D-Curl, which is the curliest lash, leaving lashes looking like a lash curler was used on them. Lash extensions also feature thickness options, ranging from .05mm to .2mm. With such a wide variety of choices, it’s important for lash artists to fully understand each client’s needs and expectations prior to performing the service.
For people with strong natural lashes, celebrity makeup artist Elle Leary suggests a synthetic and silk blend, while the majority of people can benefit from a silk and mink blend. Mature clients, on the other hand, should just use mink lashes, because they are lighter and won’t cause damage to the natural lash if applied correctly. “I always suggest a lighter weight like .7 or .15 to really keep the integrity of the natural lash,” she says. “When lash artists use a heavy weighted synthetic lash like .20, it puts too much strain on the natural lash and can damage them. When applied correctly, it is possible to get a dramatic look without the weight.”
The hot trend in lashes today is the volume-lashing technique, which affects the desired volume and fullness. The lash artist can apply anywhere from two (2D) to six (6D) lash extensions to each natural lash. The technique involves using a very fine eyelash extension—approximately 0.05mm to 0.12mm—and adhering several of these extensions to one natural lash to give a beautiful and dramatic look. According to Chipman, volume lashes are beneficial, because they can fill in natural gaps that clients may have, they are more voluminous, they create more texture, and they leave lashes with a more intense, defined look. When applying volume lashes, the concentration is more on creating volume and shaping, rather than simply lengthening the lash like the classic lashing technique. “By adhering multiple extensions to one natural lash, we are also taking advantage of a few unforeseen forces of engineering,” says Chipman. “The first is that we are creating multiple new pockets of adhesive, which form mini beam-like shapes along the lashes. These shapes create more strength for the bond, and the more shapes we have, the stronger the bond. The second is that we have a much higher surface-bonding area. There are multiple surfaces surrounding the natural lash and extensions with adhesives on them now. Because of this, along with the lighter weight of the lashes and increased flexibility, we can actually see longer bond times than with classic lashing.”
In addition to leaving clients with va-va-voom lashes, the volume-lashing technique also benefits lash artists. According to Kate Zasowska, brand manager at JB Lashes, lash artists have more freedom to be creative with volume lashes, as there are various looks that can be achieved that are not possible with classic lashing. Spas and salons also benefit from them, because the service is around 50 percent more expensive than classic eyelash extension services.
That’s not the only eye-catching trend. Soo-Jin Yang, founder and CEO of Illumino, is seeing an increase in lash manufacturers creating lashes on one strip with a variety of lengths for a natural staggered effect, as well as a trend in colored lashes and lashes with highlights and lowlights. “Lash extensions are even available with a subtle ombré effect by starting with the base in black and going to dark blue to lighter, brighter blue,” she says. Hoonakker is seeing a trend in lash services becoming more personalized, with clients wanting to own their own lash trays and spas moving in a new direction from using unsuitable lash diameters to thinner strands. “Fullness comes from the number of lashes applied, not using diameters that are three-to-four times the thickness of a natural lash,” he says.
More alternatives to eyelash extensions have also been introduced for clients who do not want the commitment or expense of extensions. The Lash Lift from Largest Lashes, for example, is similar to a perm for natural lashes. It uses smooth silicone pads instead of traditional clunky perm rods. Lash Lift can be a stand-alone service, or it can be paired with a lash tint, lash enhancement serums, or semi-permanent mascara. “It provides an eyelash enhancement without the cost or commitment of extensions,” says Leslee Bouttu, owner of Largest Lashes. Similarly, Fibreluxe Lashes is a mascara that helps achieve the look of false lashes without actually applying individual or strip lashes. Fibreluxe’s main ingredient is a high-grade beeswax, which allows for a buildable mascara, and also acts as a moistening agent and helps coat lashes, protecting them from any damage. Some spas are also keeping false eyelashes in stock for makeup application services for clients who simply want a temporary lash enhancement.
When it comes to promoting eyelash extension services, it’s important to make sure clients are aware that the service is available. This can be done by keeping promotional materials in the waiting area for clients to read pre-service, running promotions, and using business cards that double as referral cards. For each new customer that you get by word of mouth, for example, give them a free product, discount, or a free fill, suggests Chipman. Yang recommends that lash artists offer fellow employees or colleagues either a work trade or discounted service in exchange for a referral whenever anyone compliments the lashes.
At Decorum Lash Bar & Spa (La Jolla, CA), owner Rachelle Faedi helps clients gain interest in new services by showing short demonstrations to existing clientele and offering complimentary add-on services for first-time clients. She also keeps the environment positive and friendly to entice clients to return.
When it comes to promoting eyelash extension services, Zasowska believes that improving customer service can significantly increase spa and salon profits, especially during the consultation stage. “You will need to know what type of lash style your client wants,” she says. “Once you are able to see your client’s natural lashes, you will be able to know what thickness and lengths will work best. It is important to explain that each person achieves a different look due to differences in their lash line, number of lashes, and their eye shape.”
Lash artists should also ask the client about the type of mascara she wears and how many coats she typically applies, which can indicate if she prefers more natural-looking or more glamorous lashes, and if the client wears glasses, which can help determine the length of lashes to use. For new clients, lash artists can benefit from showing photos of previous lash extension work and also providing advice to clients on the style that would work best with their eyes. For return clients, it’s important to ask if the client was happy with the last set and if there is anything they would like to change. Also, be sure to discuss pricing when scheduling the appointment to be sure the price is not a surprise at checkout time.
Pre-service, clients should be advised on how long the appointment will take, to not wear mascara, to remove contacts, and to keep lashes dry for approximately 24 hours. Clients should also receive and sign a consent form. “This form will ask for and provide important information on eyelash extensions, what to expect, and possible risks from having extensions applied,” says Zasowska. “Clients need to sign and date this form, agreeing to this information.”
To keep clients coming back, it’s important to try to schedule the client’s next appointment before they leave. Offer first-time clients a discount and existing clients a special discount at times. Also, give clients a referral fee, like $25 off the cost of a touchup for every client they refer, and collect clients’ information to send updates on specials, promotions, and discounts. Use emailing software from professional email blast companies to avoid spamming issues, says Zasowska.
To help clients get the best results and be completely satisfied with their lash services, it’s important to educate them on how to maintain the lashes at home with a proper regimen and products. According to Zasowska, clients should only use water-based and oil-free eye makeup and makeup remover, be gentle with the eye area and pat lashes dry, and use a longer-lasting lash sealer to protect and extend the life of lashes. Clients should also avoid using regular mascara; manual lash curlers, which can break extensions and natural lashes; and oil-based face cleansers. “We have done extensive work on this area, and our customers agree, the simpler the regimen, the more likely we can engage our customers,” says Hoonakker. “That includes a gentle makeup remover and eyelid cleanser. When cleaning, we have found that using a soft cleansing brush is far gentler then rolling the fingertips. Side-sleepers should use a lash sleep mask to prevent lashes from prematurely separating due to friction while asleep.”
With proper maintenance and homecare products, together with today’s advancements in eyelash extensions, it’s easier than ever for clients to achieve longer-lasting fabulous lashes. In addition to being revenue-enhancing for a spa, eyelash extensions are an appearance- and confidence-building service that is sure to continue to gain popularity among clients of all ages. “I always say to recommend lashes to clients that wear false lashes often, because extensions are less daily maintenance and look more lifelike,” says Leary. “Or if you have a client who doesn’t want to fuss with makeup every day, with lash extensions all they need is a little blush and lip balm, and they are on their way. It is the perfect no-makeup look.”
Extend your beauty services with these lash products to give your clients fuller, more dramatic lashes.
1. Ardell Chocolate Individual Lashes: For a natural look, a blend of black and brown fibers adds depth and dimension to lashes. www.ardelllashes.com
2. Bella Lash Lash Pod: This ergonomically designed wristband holds a removable adhesive cup and patented curved surface to keep extensions close at hand for an efficient service. www.bellalash.com
3. Borboleta Beauty Eyelash Palette: Stay organized with this convenient palette, which keeps an adhesive, a jade stone, and lashes within easy reach. www.borboletabeauty.com
4. Duo Individual Lash Adhesive: This latex-free formula keeps lashes securely in place for weeks and comes in clear (shown) or black to blend in the lash line. www.duoadhesives.com
5. Illumino Lashes Tweezer Collection: These lightweight stainless-steel tweezers are designed to fit in your hand comfortably while placing lashes. www.illuminolashes.com
6. JB Lashes Platinum Pro-Bonding Glue: This instant cling adhesive dries quickly to bond extensions seamlessly to natural lashes. www.jblashes.com
7. Largest Lashes Lash Lift Premium Pack: Individual sachets of permanent, setting, and nourishing lotions help to enhance natural lashes. www.largestlashes.com
8. Lash Be Long Professional Eyelash Extension Kit: This kit contains everything needed for lash extension services, including a training manual, client consultation cards, lashes, adhesives, and tweezers in a vinyl zip case. www.lashbelong.com
9. Minkys Groove Lash: Available in varying curls, diameters, and lengths, these extensions create a voluminous look without weighing down natural lashes thanks to a concave shape. www.minkys.com
10. Novalash Candied Lashes: Hand-dipped in colorful glitter, these lashes add a sparkle to eyes that lasts up to two weeks. www.novalash.com
11. PremierLash-Designer Lashes Inox Gold Tip Tweezers: Stainless steel tweezers feature a textured grip and a gold tip for precision application and durability. www.premierlash.com
12. Xtreme Lashes Silicone Under Eye Patches: Disposable, self-adhering patches fit securely under the eyes to eliminate skin irritation during lash services. www.xtremelashes.com