When it comes to a bride's big day (or the holiday party circuit, for that matter), few makeup tricks can rival the allure of long, luscious lashes. After all, with the right lashes a woman can go from doe-eyed beauty to glam vixen in a heartbeat. Strip lashes and lash extensions are usually the way to go if you want to achieve high drama and maximum impact. And thanks to some new ultra-luxurious lash services in Vancouver, I recently had a chance to further explore the pros and cons of each method.
Now, before I go any further, I should label this post with a big disclaimer for the beauty junkies out there. This post is intended for lash aficionados and novices. I was initially going to launch right into talking about the new Vancouver-based lash services I've test-driven lately. But after a coworker asked me what lash extensions are, I thought it'd be worthwhile to thoroughly explain both options for the uninitiated.
What they are: The lashes are attached a thin, flexible strip which you glue to your lash line as closely as possible. Different materials (from plastics and synthetics to mink and other types of animal hair) and adhesives (from the cheaper varieties to higher end formulas free of toluene and formaldehyde) explain the price differences.
Pros: Temporary, affordable, apply-it-yourself fun that you can execute in the comfort of your own home.
Cons: If applied improperly, lashes can fall off, create a droopy-eyed look, or obstruct your vision because they're slanting downward. For novices, the idea of applying strip lashes can create a lot of anxiety.
The trick to applying them: According to Lash Lab co-founder Judy Anderson, the easiest way to apply strip lashes is with long-nosed eyelash tweezers. Unlike fingers (which can be clumsy and view-obstructing), the long-nosed lash tweezers let you gently nudge and press the lash into position and don't block your view in the mirror.
Taking them off: Make sure you peel off your lashes carefully at the end of the night, and remove any dried on adhesive, so you can re-use them later. Put them back in the case in a curved horseshoe shape like originally packaged. A pair of strip lashes from Lash Lab's luxe line can last up to 25 uses if cared for properly.
Where to go: If you don't know the first thing about strip lashes, start by making an appointment at Lash Lab Vancouver, located upstairs at BeautyMark (1268 Pacific Boulevard). A lash artist will advise you on the best length (short, mid, or long), shape (neutral, doe, or cat), and setting (whether the lashes look like a stick-straight I, crisscross X, or fanned-out V across the band) to flatter your eye shape. You can try the Lash Lab-pioneered FitStiks against your eye to find the pair you like best. Once you decide, the lash artist trims the lashes to the perfect length and gives you a lesson in application.
Cost: The lashes are $32, which is spendier than the drugstore alternative. But considering the superior quality and complimentary tutorial, it's a bargain—especially if you re-use your lashes multiple times. Lash aficionados will appreciate the finer details that set Lash Lab apart: luxe materials like synthetic mink and real animal hair; non-toxic, fume-free adhesive; a black cotton band—not clear plastic—that looks like eyeliner and feels like nothing once the lashes are applied. For lash newbies, Lash Lab might very well spoil them for drugstore alternatives for life.
You can also buy the high-performance non-toxic glue ($10) and lash tweezers ($14) separately.
What they are: An esthetician trained in lash extensions glues individual fibres to your natural lashes for a lengthening and volumizing effect. Price varies depending on the style, complexity, and quality of the extensions and adhesive.
Pros: Once applied, lash extensions can last anywhere from 2-8 blissful, mascara-free weeks. Devotees adore them for how they streamline morning makeup routines, and they make it easy to look polished while on vacation.
Cons: They're pricier than strip lashes, and if you want to maintain a nice full look, you'll have to pay for a fill around the 3-4 week mark.
Caring for your extensions: Noir Lash Lounge has an extensive how-to guide on the subject, but the basics are, well, pretty basic. Don't get them wet during the first 24 hours. Don't sleep with your head crushed into the pillow or put your face right under a running shower. Use pointy Q-Tips and oil-free eye makeup remover. You can also use Noir's in-house Lash Potion No. 9 ($36.75), which helps seal the adhesive and condition lashes when pressed into the lashline.
Cost: At Noir, lash extensions start at $40 with Le Fling (lashes placed on the outer corners of the eyes) and go up to $250 for their newest service, Viva La Volume.
And speaking of Viva La Volume... Viva La Volume is Noir's newest service and derives from Russian Volume, a type of lash extension that originated in Russia and is gaining popularity here. Multiple ultra-thin, synthetic mink lashes are glued onto a single natural lash for maximum volume. The process can take 2+ hours and requires a highly trained technician; otherwise, serious damage can occur to natural lashes.
I was recently invited to try Viva La Volume at Noir's Yaletown location, and while I like the extensions, it took 1-3 days for the initial shock of seeing myself with Texas-sized lashes to wear off. 3+ weeks later, the majority of the extensions have fallen out because of my lashes' natural growth cycle, but they still look like I'm using a spectacular mascara just because they were so thick when I started out. Maintenance for Viva La Volume has been more or less the same as that of normal extensions.
The only drawback to Viva La Volume is I haven't been able to wear my glasses, which I kind of miss when I work in front of the computer for long periods of time. The extensions are so long they keep hitting the lenses when I blink. I may have the lashes of an oligarch's wife, but alas, I do not have the lady-of-leisure lifestyle.