For some brides-to-be, a long, lush, dark fringe of lashes means dispensing with mascara on their wedding day and not having to wear eye makeup at all while enjoying their honeymoon.

 

All it takes to get them is a couple of hours and between 75 and 300 bucks.

 

Eyelash extensions are becoming more and more popular for women with natural lashes that are short and fine.

 

"They give you the look of naturally defined eyes without the use of mascara," says Olena Kovalchuk, makeup artist and eyelash extension technician at Kirsch Cosmetic Studio in Toronto. "Extensions make lashes look longer and a little thicker."

 

The process involves having synthetic clusters or singles glued onto clean, natural lashes to deliver a longer, thicker dramatic effect. More common are single-lash extensions, in which one synthetic lash is glued onto a single natural lash (without touching the lid); the finish tends to be more realistic, albeit in a generously-endowed-by-nature way.


Proper care is important for extension longevity, and is usually outlined for each client during the appointment. Instructions include not touching the lashes once they're applied because the natural oils in skin reduce the effectiveness of the adhesive. Non-oily makeup remover is also best.


How long extensions last also seems to depend on the supplies each technician uses. According to Kovalchuk, the type of extensions and glue she uses (Misencils) can last up to nine months. To maintain lush results, however, the key is monthly fill-in appointments to replace lashes that fall off during the natural lash-shedding cycle.


Jennifer Ballance, who provides lash extension services at Buff Nail Lounge in downtown Toronto, uses materials supplied by a company called XtremeLashCanada and predicts a full two months of good-condition wear with a refill about halfway through.


Extensions eventully fall off by themselves, but the look can get scraggly as more lashes disengage. "See a professional who can remove them without damaging the natural lash," says Ballance.


Cost can depend on the number of extensions you have. At Buff, a half-set of about 30 synthetics per eye is $75, and a full set of about 70 per eye is $150. At Kirsch, however, the price is $300 -- rather than limit the number of extensions she uses, Kovalchuk applies as many as necessary for the fullest effect (it varies according to how many lashes the client has naturally), and sends the client home with a protective lash sealant and oil-free makeup remover.

Lash Extension Alternatives
For women with very sparse lashes, extensions may not be a solution because they can't add much fullness. You can add length to what is already there, but you can't attach synthetic lashes where natural lashes don't exist, Kovalchuk explains.


A temporary strip of falsies is better for achieving a significant overall volume boost. Shu Uemura's Farfallina lashes ($36, Holt Renfrew) offer a glamorous flourish. MAC LASH #31 ($15.50, maccosmetics.com) or Revlon's Fantasy Lengths #99500 ($7.99,Wal-Mart and Zellers) offer more realistic results.


Makeup artist Sylvie Mazerolle (sylviemazerolle.ca) prefers to use flirty lash clusters for a soft, feathery look. "I'm the naturalist when it comes to bridal," she says. "Bridal makeup should enhance your natural beauty -- you should look like a princess, not a drama queen."


For women who would rather stick with mascara, L'Oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes ($14.95 at drugstores) has a primer on one end and colour on the other for a dramatic increase in length. Fragile lashes may have a hero in Cargo LashActivator ($35 at Murale and Sephora), a mascara-like treatment that can be used in the months before the Big Day. It contains a blend of nourishing marine and botanical extracts to boost growth by improving micro-circulation of nutrients and reducing lash loss.