Lashing out: The hottest beauty trend and its benefits

eyelash extensions

New York women have fine-tuned their beauty regimes to maximize every moment. They know how to preserve a blowout beyond its expiration date (blow dry the hair line and dry shampoo!); they use multitasking makeup that works on eyes, lips, and cheeks; and they’ve have even figured out how to look done-up without doing a thing. Their latest trick for mastering this? Eyelash extensions.

More women are turning to this niche beauty trick that used to reside in the exclusive milieu of Hollywood, brides, drag queens, and Kim Kardashian. It’s especially true in New York, where time-savers are sacred, and in the fitness world, where sweat makes eye makeup an aesthetic liability.

“There’s this aspect of 24-7 beauty,” says Shay Hampton of Fracassi Lashes, a Rochester-based salon that just opened an NYC location based on increased demand. “You can basically throw on some foundation and lip gloss and go, and your eyes are popping all day.”

Barry’s Bootcamp instructor Geneva Simms agrees. She got a set of eyelash extensions for her wedding and then fell in love, as she opened the studio at 5:00 a.m. and trained for a marathon. “Lash extensions make a fit lifestyle and career much easier because you’re not worrying about mascara streaming down your face,” she says. Intrigued? Here’s what you need to know:

1. The types. Extensions come in many flavors and a skilled stylist will be able to help you choose which will achieve the look you’re going for. (The final length of your extensions also depends on the length of your natural lashes.)

When I showed up at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in Soho, I was terrified of leaving looking like a Real Housewife of New Jersey, but my stylist, Ellen, erred on the side of a more natural appearance, using some synthetic lashes (which are usually silk-based and have a dark, curled look) and some natural (which are made from mink hair and look soft and long).

Novalash is the “gold standard” when it comes to extensions and stylist training, and both both Courtney Akai and Eyelash Fairies (Geneva Simms’ spot) are “Advanced Trained” Novalash centers.

eyelash extensions
A before and after shot from Courtney Akai Lash Boutique.

2. The process.  A full-set of extensions can take about two hours to apply, since stylists carefully attach each extension to an individual lash with tweezers. After your first full-set, you’ll only need touch-ups, which don’t take nearly as long. They’re attached using medical-grade glue (at quality salons), and while I didn’t smell or feel a thing, it’s still glue. (Novalash verifies that their glue is formaldehyde free, but that when the bottle is opened to air, a “small amount” may be produced. Yuck.) Fracassi also offers lashes that are applied in “clusters,” which only take 20-30 minutes to apply. The lashes start to fall out around the two week mark, but you won’t need to go back until about four or six.

3. The cost. There’s a huge range when it comes to cost, but overall, they’re expensive, especially if you want to go top-of-the-line. At Fracassi, you can get a full-set for $120; Eyelash Fairies and Courtney Akai will both charge you $350 or more. The problem is, once you get them, you may glance at yourself in the mirror and book your next appointment without even batting an eye. —Lisa Elaine Held

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