Are eyelash extensions or eyelash lifts better?
So, you’ve been tossing up between lash extensions and a lash lift? What is the difference? Which is going to be better? Is there a clear winner? Turns out, it’s complicated – and here we want to give you all the info so you can make the best decision for which treatment will work perfectly for you.
First thing to know, is that these two are very, very different treatments.
Lash extensions involving adding something to enhance your natural lashes (synthetic fibres of a silk or mink finish – no animal products here) which generally make your eyelashes look as though they are longer and more curled than they are. This means that even if you have super fine, super sparse, short little lashes (like me…. probably what made me start this business actually – was my lash-envy of my long-lashed friends!) we can make them look pretty amazing. Although we never want to overload them, we have some unreal techniques using volume lashes and different curls and styling that you can improve your lashy look vastly.
Lash lifts on the other hand, relies on the natural lashes, which, using a chemical process, have their shape altered, then infused with keratin, to give them a lifted/curled look. The result of this is almost entirely dependent on what your natural lashes are like to start with. It can be combined with a tint for added impact, which we recommend most of the time (unless your lashes are jet black). Even those with dark lashes normally find that the last couple of mm are naturally paler, so a tint can give the illusion of longer lashes.
If you have long, reasonably full lashes, a lift will generally give you amazing results! However, if your lashes are shorter, finer, or maybe you just don’t naturally have that many, the results can be a little underwhelming. Yes, they will be more curled, and darker if you have a tint, but if you don’t have a lot in the way of natural lashes, it might not be the right treatment for you.
So effect-wise, lash extensions can be far more dramatic/dark than lifts (if that’s the look you’re after) and special effects like staggered/Kim k, doll eye, cat eye etc can be done. With lifts, you’re limited in that we can only do so much with your natural lashes – basically curl them upwards and make them darker with a tint. Sometimes, we have people ask for ‘cat eye effect’ with lash lift which is simply not possible – we can’t make your natural lashes ‘longer’ on the ends without extensions. The lift involves curling them upwards, onto a rod, and whilst we can customise the angle of curl (usually done based on the length of your lashes) we can’t actually specifically shape/style your lashes with a lift.
Maintenance wise, lifts are easier – it lasts a bit longer than extensions (you can expect a lift to look good for around 5/6 weeks, extensions about 3 before infills are needed) and you don’t have to be as careful with makeup and oily things. You can get a lift and (once you’ve waited 24 hours for it to set properly) put whatever you want on them – oily makeup remover, sticky pot eyeliner, mascara etc – and take it off with vigour. With lash extensions, you need to avoid oily makeup or remover, anything sticker (gel pot eyeliner is a big no!) and if you have volume lashes on, mascara is also not a good idea at all. So, if you love to load on the eye makeup, a lift is probably a better option. Most people that love lash extensions (i.e. most people that get them once!) don’t mind the maintenance – it’s a nice way to relax and have a little nap whilst getting beautified – but for others, having to do it every few weeks is too much bother.
Now for some people, lash extensions (the adhesive generally) can cause an allergic reaction. This is rare, but not that rare – maybe 1 in a thousand, going by what we see here. In this case, lash extensions are a no go, and lift would be better. A patch test is always recommended, especially if you’ve had a reaction to lash extensions, or any tints, dyes, or eye makeup products.
Then it comes down to lash health – personally, I think lash extensions – when applied properly by a professional, are a better choice than a lash lift overall. Lash extensions sit atop your natural lash, therefore the hair itself is not actually altered/changed by any chemical process. When we remove lash extensions from our clients even after YEARS of wear, there is normally no noticeable difference in their natural lashes. Furthermore, if you decide you don’t want the look of lash extensions anymore, it’s super simple – we can remove them easily in usually a 15-30 min appointment. Lash lifts are more permanent – you kind of need to let them grow out, which can take a couple of months, and there’s usually a stage around week 5-6 where they look a little less then lovely, as some will be lifted, and others (new lashes that have grown in) will not be. It’s not that noticeable, but if lash perfection is your goal, this stage may annoy you a little!
However, if your lashes are very fine/weak, or you’re having lifts done all the time, it can dry out your natural lashes and make them brittle/more prone to breakage.
This is because each time they are lifted, the structure of the hair is changed.
If you ARE having lifts done all the time, please ensure you’re using a quality aftercare product like Eleeplex, which infuses the lashes with keratin and biotin and other nutrients, to help keep them healthy. In the same way as if you are having your hair bleached, or permed, you need to look after lashes that are having lifts regularly. Lifts done every 8+ weeks on healthy, normal lashes, that have aftercare, generally also have no damage and are left in great condition.
If you have a tendency to pick at things and won’t be able to resist pulling and tugging at your lashes and need to give your eyes a good old rub quite a bit, eyelash extensions are probably not your friend. You really need to just not touch them (besides washing them with an approved foam cleanser – we recommend LashGame Foaming Cleanser)
Lastly, do these treatments both work for everyone? Not always, no. We find that in around 1% of our clientele, lifts just do not work (even with a repeat attempt). It’s unusual, and our suppliers put this down to hormone fluctuations affecting the hair structure and its ability to absorb the solutions. Some medications, such as Accutane mean that a lift cannot be done – it will cause the eyelashes to frizzle often, as this medication compromises the hair and skin integrity. Thyroid medications can be a cause of lash lift not working properly. In these cases, extensions would be better.
Same with eyelash extensions, in about 1% of clients, they will fall off quickly – we believe this has to do with oil levels in the hair, that repel the adhesive from bonding properly. People with very oily skin often don’t retain lash extensions as well as others. Usually, with regular washing of extensions, this can be counteracted, but in some cases, a lift will be a better option.
And lastly, here’s some handy pro-con tables which might help you decide which is best for you!