In this busy day and age, we’re all looking for ways to save time and look our best. Because of this, eyelash treatments have taken the world by storm, and there is no sign of it slowing down. In fact, it’s projected that the lash artist industry will be worth a whopping $1.5 billion by 2023!
From the client’s perspective, lash treatments are an amazing time saver and beauty enhancer. From the beauty professional’s perspective, lashing is a great industry to break into. Especially when you could be taking home your part of $1.5 billion! Because of this, lash artists are anything but few and far between—Amazing Lash Studio alone opened over 170 new locations between 2016 and 2017 to meet the demand.
With this huge rise in popularity, is it okay to go to just any lash artist? Are all lash techs created equal? It can be confusing to know who to trust with your eyes when so many different people offer so many different prices, techniques, and even experiences. So I want to give some advice on what to look for in a lash artist.
Throughout this article, I will be using the terms “lash artist” and “lash technician” interchangeably. They are essentially synonymous and it’s just to break up the monotony. Let’s go!
Before diving in, let’s talk about the process of eyelash extension application. Synthetic or natural (usually mink) faux lashes are glued to the individual natural lashes of the client. Professional eyelash extension adhesives are meant to hold for anywhere from 3-6 weeks. However, the regular shedding cycle of hair growth takes place every 18-45 days. This means that each lash goes through three phases of hair growth: the anagen, or active growth stage; the catagen, or transition stage when the hair stops growing; and the telogen stage when the lash becomes dormant and eventually sheds before it falls out and is replaced with new growth. When a natural lash falls out, the attached extension goes with it. Regular touch-up appointments called “fills” or “in-fills” should take place every 2-3 weeks to maintain the desired thickness and appearance.
In order to place these extensions, the lash artist uses medical tape or under-eye pads to cover the lower lashes. He or she then uses two sets of tweezers (one to isolate each natural lash and the other to pick up the single extension or group of extensions, called a “fan”, and dip it in the adhesive) to apply the extensions. During this time the client’s eyes must remain shut to avoid irritation or injury. A full set of lash extensions takes anywhere from 1-3 hours, and a fill may take 45 minutes to 1.5 hours, depending on the desired style and fullness.
Now that you have an understanding of how the treatment works, let’s talk about what to look for in a lash artist! The first thing is licensing and/or certification.
Some states require lash artists to be licensed estheticians or cosmetologists, meaning they went to school to learn how to apply lashes in a safe, professional way. On top of the state-issued license, they need to have completed and passed a lash extension (or lash lifting!) course. Many beauty schools and lash extension supply companies provide these courses. This lets you know the technician went through certified training and didn’t just watch YouTube videos to learn techniques.
If your state does not require the lash artist to be licensed, at the very minimum you want to find someone who has a reputable course certification. I still recommend finding an esthetician or cosmetologist simply because of their advanced training in sanitation, anatomy, and more.
Next, look at where they are performing lash services. Is it in a full salon? A private studio? Their kitchen? If they are working out of a salon or salon studio, they are required by the state to have a business license. They’re also required to pass health inspections and be insured before they can start servicing clients.
Home salons/spas have these same requirements, but because they are in the privacy of someone’s home, unfortunately, these steps aren’t always taken. In fact, approximately 26% of lash artists don’t carry active liability insurance, which puts themselves and their clients at risk. Ask to see your technician’s credentials, including business license and health inspection certificate. It’s your right to know your artist is following state guidelines and regulations to ensure your safety and health.
Regardless, if you walk into a workspace and don’t feel it meets your standard of cleanliness, it’s okay to leave. I’ve heard of massage tables being set up in living rooms with the TV blaring in the background, children running around, and even dogs barking and walking up to the client during the treatment. Not only is it unsanitary and unsafe to have animals in the treatment area, it’s extremely unsettling because the client’s eyes must remain shut. Loud noises, pets, family members present and other distractions should not be a part of the treatment package.
Another important thing to look for is Client In-Take Forms. Unfortunately, I don’t hear of lash artists having their clients fill out paperwork enough. This is absolutely shocking to me! It’s the responsibility of the technician to know if the client has any allergies or sensitivities, if they’ve had lashes before, if there were adverse reactions, what the client’s lifestyle is, how it will affect the lashes and more.
Paperwork is also a time for the technician to explain any risks that could occur with lash extensions. All of this information needs to be acknowledged in writing. This keeps both the client and the technician safe. If you are a lash technician who doesn’t have proper In-Take forms, you can find them here.
For example, suppose you are allergic to hydroquinone but the technician never asked if you have allergies. Several lash adhesives have hydroquinone and you will probably
experience a reaction. This could have been avoided and your money saved had the technician used the appropriate forms and asked the proper questions ahead of time.
I also recommend finding out what type of lash extensions the artist uses. Do they apply individual/classic extensions? Pre-made fans/clusters? Or volume lash fans that are made out of individual extensions during the treatment?
Classic and volume extensions are applied to one individual lash. They should never be placed on top of multiple lashes, gluing them together. This is because each lash is on its own hair growth cycle. If a lash that’s ready to shed is glued to a lash that’s still rooted, the shedding lash may pull out the other one with it. This can lead to irritation, pain, and alopecia which is a slowed or even permanent loss of hair growth.
Cluster lashes have a base that is too wide for just one lash. They are applied to the top of many lashes, which glues them all together. Some people are drawn to clusters because they are fast and cheap, but they are not good. I’ve never seen more damaged lashes than on clients who used to wear clusters. Avoid these at all costs!
If you’re thinking about booking an appointment, research your lash artist! Although there’s no way to 100% guarantee you won’t experience an adverse reaction to a treatment, you can greatly minimize the risk by taking time to research lash artists. Visit their websites, social media pages, and look up reviews. Find before and after pictures of their work. Call and ask for license verification ahead of time. Your health, safety, and the chance for the gorgeous, voluminous lashes you dream of are worth a little extra effort!