The non-surgical, non-pharmaceutical way to actually lengthen eyelashes is with eyelash extensions (there is a very serious surgical procedure that medical professionals call “eyelash transplants”). Much like hair extensions, eyelash extensions involve adhering an extension to a natural lash to make it physically longer. It is a practice that is very popular among celebrities and growing in the makeup and spa industries – but there is still a lot of room for growth, and you can be the first in your area to offer this amazing service to your clients.
One of the greatest things about offering eyelash extensions is that it gives you a brand new stream of income and it is one of the few treatments with an immediate Wow factor. What a terrific boost to your client retention and referral!
The Origin of Eyelash Extensions
The technology of eyelash extensions started in Asia over 20 years ago. Asian lashes tend to be shorter and straighter, so the technology was created to give a longer, curved lash, adding definition to the eye. Gradually, this practice crossed over to the U.S. and Canada and is growing rapidly.
However, not all lash extensions are created equal. There are techniques that do not offer the quality of true lash extensions. Some manufacturers sell extensions that are flared or grouped – three to four lashes per grouping. You can buy these flared lashes in the drug store and do it yourself. They tend to last only one to two weeks, cost less, require a fraction of the time to apply and do not look as natural as true lash extensions which must be applied by a trained professional.
Professional lash extensions are applied on a lash per lash basis. A single lash extension is literally attached to a single natural eyelash. Doing lash extensions well requires training on both the procedures and the materials available. A technician who wants to become an extension expert will have to learn how to prep the eyes, how to choose the right lashes to extend, and how to choose the extensions which will achieve the best look for the client.
There are companies who provide training, certification and even kits to get you started and you will want to allow yourself a considerable amount of practice time before offering this as a regular service in your spa. You will also want to check with your state licensing/regulating board to be sure you know the licensing requirements for this procedure in your state.
Aging and Eyelashes
While many women (and men) have naturally thin, short, or inconsistent eyelashes, as we age we lose density and length; we no longer have the lashes we had when we were younger. So, your mature client is looking for a method to hold back the aging process and keep her youthful, sexy, expressive eyes. In addition, clients in there 20s and 30s are all about great looking eyes and have become a huge market for this service.
Adding eyelash extensions to your menu can make your spa unique among those in your area, as well as provide you with a service which requires maintenance and, therefore, provides repeat business. Once your client has extensions done, she will feel so beautiful she will want to keep the look going – so appealing is the appearance of these long, natural, luxurious lashes.
The Basic Procedure for Eyelash Extensions
There really is only one proper procedure for doing extensions, although you might see some variations in tools and materials by some technicians. Prior to doing the treatment, you should discuss with the client the desired look, be it sophisticated, natural, length or density, et cetera. Take photos and set up a file for your client to help you keep the look consistent over time.
In brief the procedure is as follows: Set up your workstation with good lighting.
- Lay client down, make them comfortable
- Cleanse the eye area with oil-free makeup remover and cleanser
- Apply eye patches under lower lid trying to capture lower lashes
- Apply half inch medical paper tape on the lower lashes so they are held out of the way
- Add tape to the upper lid when closed to keep eyes shut
- Lay out the extensions by length and diameter
- Set out your glue and your curved and straight tweezers
- Find middle-stage growth lashes, what we call “teenage” lashes, it is best to put extensions on these because they are stronger than “baby” lashes and will last longer than the mature or adult lashes
- Start at the outer corner of the eye and go back and forth from eye to eye to keep a balanced and symmetrical appearance
- Lay in varying lengths and diameters as you move along the eye line, graduating the lengths
- Check to make sure nothing is adhered to the lower tape or lash line
- Finally, dry, comb, curl, and remove the tape and eye patches
*Additional Tip: store your adhesive in the refrigerator for longevity and remove one to two hours prior to a service.
It is critical to work in an efficient yet precautious manner using the utmost care to protect the eyes so adhesive does not get into the eyes. Your choice of glue and materials also affects the safety and quality of the procedure. It is worth the money to buy quality products. Avoid fumes with glues containing formaldehyde. Buy quality lash extensions; extensions can vary greatly in comfort and appearance. Comfort and adherence are the keys to your repeat business!
You will want to recommend a good oil-free cleanser to your client to wash off eye makeup and mascara, although most clients do not feel they need to apply mascara once they have had extensions. I usually give a small sample of cleanser to new clients along with a disposable mascara wand to brush through the lashes every morning. There are also sealers that will extend the life of lashes, provide a glossy finish, and clear mascara gel which can help to separate and disguise gaps where lashes have fallen out.
Your client should not use any mascara that is silicone based; typically a beeswax base works best. They should not use a crimping lash curler, and depending upon the adhesive, I recommend two to 48 hours of not purposefully getting the lashes wet to allow the bond to cure.
What Type of Spa Professional is Best Suited to Perform Extensions?
The best eyelash extension technician will like detail work, be patient, and have a creative flare. An artistic person can find this kind of work enjoyable and very rewarding. It is a beautifying treatment that is extremely effective and instant. As soon as the client opens their eyes the Wow factor has emerged!
Hands on training is helpful where you can become a technician. Certification will allow you to purchase products from a particular brand. This helps a lash company boost sales and maintain control over training and product placement. Also keep in mind that many states require licensing to do eyelash extensions, so make checking with your state board your first step in case any additional training is required for a license.
You can also learn the intricacies of the practice from instructional video training, although it must be a very thorough video to supply you with all the knowledge and support you need to get started. Plus, practice is the key. This allows you to have the freedom to source your own materials and often at a fraction of the cost, and to know how to judge the quality of your materials. Believe me, if you use inferior materials, you will surely lose clients, and fast.
How to Get Started in Your Spa
Your spa can either hire an eyelash extension specialist (again, make sure they are licensed if necessary) to come in a couple of days a week on a subcontract basis or you can have your aestheticians trained. You want to be sure that you and your technicians are very confident in their skills and abilities before offering the service. As with most treatments, do not perform this procedure on clients without liability insurance and inform your insurance provider that you have added eyelash extensions to your spa menu. You would also be well advised to follow the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines for both sanitation and working around the eyes.
As I mentioned, this is a service that requires maintenance, which makes it perfect for the day spa or medical spa. Typically clients return for touchups every four to six weeks. Retouches usually take about 30 to 60 minutes, and it is more economical for the client to keep the touchups frequent because as the lashes grow out, touchups can take longer. A typical charge can start at $25 per 15 minutes for fills or touch ups.
Your investment in materials and inventory will run from $450 to $1200 for a kit depending on the brand. Once you purchase your initial supply kit your overall cost per client is quite low. It is the adhesive that will have the highest price tag but remember, besides a comfy lash, it is a great adhesive that is your key to success!
Obviously you will want to get out and market the service, just as you would any new treatment. In this case, before and after photos will go a long way in drawing new clients. Get the photos on your website, encourage referrals, and network with other of professionals in your area including doctors who offer other types of beauty services such as laser treatments or botox.
Eyelash extension services continue to grow in the global spa market. Get in on the ground floor and you can become the go-to specialist when it comes to this beauty enhancing and profitable service.
Leslie Graham is an award-winning Makeup Artist, a certified eyelash technician and trainer. She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and the Westmore Academy. Graham is a professional makeup artist with many film and television credits. She also has produced educational DVDs on eyelash extensions. Graham may be contacted by calling 800-414-2434.