Posted by: Michelle Mitton | October 27, 2008

Novalash Eye Lash Extensions

Novalash Eye Lash ExtensionOne of the great things about having a big family is that there’s always someone who’s an expert on something. We’ve got people who can fix your house, people who can write your will, people who can drill your cavities, people who can cut your hair . . . in fact we’ve joked that all we need is to get a mechanic and an orthodontist and we’d be set.

My cousin Emily is a beautician who, besides doing a fabulous job styling my hair, decided that she needed to branch out into up-and-coming trends so she took classes to learn how to put on eye lash extensions.

Eye lash extensions?? When I heard her news I did a double take. I’ve heard about hair extensions but eye lashes? Basically it’s where individual hairs are glued onto your own individual eye lashes making your natural lashes longer than they’d ever be with plain old makeup or nature working for them. Emily went to a special series of classes put on by Novalash, the premier company making the products for eye lash extensions, to learn how to install . . . er . . . I mean put them on.

As with any fancy beauty procedure the cost can be hefty–getting a full set of extensions can easily run $200-300 and though they are tough enough to be unaffected by showers, swimming pools or rubbing your eyes they do fall out as your natural eye lashes are shed and need to be replaced regularly if you want to maintain your new chic look.

Think of it as you would acrylic nails. You pay to have a set put on your fingernails but then you have to go in regularly–maybe once every one or two weeks–to get the acrylic filled in so that things won’t look funny as your fingernails grow out. According to Emily once you have a full set of eye lash extensions applied you need to go back every 4-6 weeks to have them filled in where old lashes have been shed and new lashes are beginning to grow.

I need hardly say that I found the whole thing extremely intriguing and once I found out about this amazing trick I started noticing a couple people around me who had such long and amazing lashes that they had to be extensions–at last I knew their secret. Seems like you can get pretty much anything installed on your body to improve its appearance and the news that I could now fix my pathetically sparse and short lashes and be able to walk around fanning people with my luxurious lids was pretty darn exciting.

While $200-300 was completely out of my range Emily only charges $100 for the service and I decided last July that I wanted to try it out for myself as a treat. I think I justified it by saying that it would make a pretty good blog post and could probably be written off as a tax expense going toward research. Something like that.

Anyway, she works out of her home and because we’re cousins it was completely comfortable to relax across her bed while she sat in a chair at my head for two hours working her magic. Normally when I get my hair done I find it a pain to take time out of my day and sit there with a wet head while someone snips away but Emily had relaxing music playing and the window was open with a nice summer breeze blowing in and her bed was so soft and comfy that I pretty much dozed in and out of consciousness as she glued single lashes onto my existing stumps.

She placed a piece of fabric or paper or something across my cheek between my upper and lower lashes so that the glue wouldn’t accidentally stick my eye lid together. That would be bad. Then she had this tool that helped her spread the lash wide enough to allow her to see each hair and one by one she applied the hairs.

I think she said the quickest she’d ever been able to do a full set was an hour and forty-five minutes and it took about that long for me–not quite two hours–probably because my eye lashes are short and thin. You typically only get extensions on your upper eye lashes so if you were getting a set on your lower lids as well you can imagine how much longer it would take.

When she was finished I could hardly wait to see in the mirror, wondering if I’d suddenly look like Catherine Zeta Jones (I was hoping for Andrew’s sake that it could happen). Or would it be like the time I got my hair highlighted in high school and I was so worried it would look so dramatically different and “unnatural” that I told her to go easy and it ended up being so light as to be unnoticeable? What a waste of $70.

But one glance was enough–you could tell. Long, curling gorgeous lashes that fluttered like butterfly wings over my cheek. It may not have been quite Catherine Zeta-Jones but they were darn pretty.

I was worried about them standing up under the pressure of every day wear and tear but after the initial 24-hour “don’t get them wet if you can at all help it” period was over those suckers were so solid they might as well have been genetically grafted in place. I could rub them, sleep on them, brush them, they weren’t going anywhere.

A couple things I noticed:

First, my lashes were so long that I could see them. It was kind of like having a built-in awning where I could see the dark hairs overhead all the time. That wasn’t entirely bad, in fact it felt downright sultry, but it got me thinking: So this is what it feels like to actually have eye lashes!

Second, my lashes were so long that they could be a little crazy. If I didn’t brush them immediately after getting out of the shower then they’d dry pointing out at these crazy angles, clumping together and curling in ways that were not particularly attractive. Of course the solution was to groom them with a little eye brow brush before they dried and they’d be good for the whole day but that was a first. Brushing my eye lashes. Who would have thought it possible?

Finally, I loved feeling like I was always “made up.” You don’t need to wear mascara on extensions. I suppose you could but there’s no reason to, they look so natural and beautiful that you’d just run the risk of making them look fake by adding goop to them. Great for those of us blonds born without eye lashes though the downside was that I kind of tended to forget that I needed to wear make up. They looked great but just because I felt like I had make up on doesn’t mean that I had make up on and it was easy to forget to kind of finish the job.

After getting a set of extensions so inexpensively (relatively speaking) Emily said she charged $45 for fill-ins. This didn’t sound too exorbitant so I went into the whole thing thinking that if I liked the results that I’d go ahead and keep it up, going in every 4-6 weeks for refills.

But it quickly became apparent that my lashes would need touch ups more frequently than every 4-6 weeks. After about 2 weeks the extensions started looking a little thin. This could be because my lashes are naturally sparse and maybe if I’d had a set of thick lovely beauties that you wouldn’t be able to see the gaps as easily but regardless, after a fairly short time it seemed that I would benefit from a fill-in.

Then on top of that remember how I said it felt as if I had make up on all the time? Under certain conditions that’s a benefit but there are sometimes when you don’t want to feel like you’re wearing make up, you know? You want to be able to rub your eyes when you’re heading to bed and not feel like you’re rubbing the cat. I don’t know, I loved how they looked but the whole thing just got a little tiring to have them on all the time. Maybe if they’d stayed thick and beautiful for longer but after three weeks I was ready to forget about it and go back to my natural sad-but-real lashes and my good old fashioned Mabeylline mascara.

After five weeks they were looking funny and spindly enough that one night I’d finally had enough and ended up pulling off the last couple hangers-on that refused to die. I hadn’t thought it a wise thing to do intially because somehow I don’t recall plucking one’s eye lashes to be the hottest beauty tip but I was getting a tad desperate to have my old lashes back so I just did it.

So what’s the final verdict? If you’ve got some kind of special event–say a high school reunion or fancy company party during the holidays you want to drop ’em dead at then you might look around your area and see what they’re charging. Ask friends and see if they know anyone who does it out of their home that might be offering a good deal.

If you’re in the Anchorage area and you want to give Emily a try I’d highly recommend her (and not only for eye lashes but for hair styling as well) drop me an email and I’ll send you right to her. Two hundred is too steep for me but one hundred isn’t a bad deal for a one-time treat. And who knows, if you like the effect you might find it worth it to go back every month and get touch ups.

I have to say, they really do look dramatic and beautiful and you’ll never get that kind of a natural look with the traditional glue-on fakes.

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