While mascara and false eyelashes are powerful tools for achieving long, full lashes, you might prefer something a little more natural, something that lets your natural lashes shine on their own. This is where a lash lift can be helpful. It's a semi-permanent chemical treatment that gives straight lashes a boost at the roots that lasts up to six weeks.
"A lash lift is designed to curl or lift the natural lashes upwards," says Clementina Richardson, a licensed cosmetologist and founder of Envious Lashes. "If your natural lashes grow downward, it tends to make the eyes appear smaller, so a lash lift makes the lashes visible from the front, which frames the eyes."
Whether you're considering this treatment for the first time or just want to know how long a lash lift lasts, we've got you covered below.
How Long Does a Lash Lift Last?
Because a lash lift is a permanent treatment, it will last as long as it takes for your lashes to grow out. "A lash lift will last the growth cycle of the natural lashes, which is four to six weeks," says Richardson. "The faster the hair in your head or body grows, the faster the lash lift will grow out."
What Happens During a Lash Lift?
"First, the lash artist will asses the natural lash to see how much lift is required to achieve the perfect look," says Richardson. "Some of my clients request a cat-eye look; some clients request a more lifted, opened-eye look."
During this time, you'll also determine if you want a tint, which is like permanent mascara — it will leave your lashes darker. "Tinting the bottom lashes can also be added to create balance," says Richardson. "This is advised especially for those clients with lighter lashes."
Dr. Hilal-Campo, who is also the founder of twenty/twenty beauty, adds that it's also a great time for a patch test, where a small amount of the chemicals are tested on your skin "to make sure you are not sensitive or allergic."
Next, your lashes are prepped for the treatment. They'll be cleansed to remove dirt, makeup, and dead skin buildup and then dried. Then, pads will be applied to protect the under-eye skin and "a curved silicone form is adhered to the upper lid skin as close to the lash line as possible, and the lashes are combed up onto adhesive on the top of the silicone form," says Dr. Hilal-Campo.
3. Softening and Curling
This is when the exciting stuff starts — your lashes are curled on to a rod that guides the shape with the help of two chemicals. "A perming solution that breaks down the keratin of the lashes is used to soften them and allow them to curl, and then, a chemical setting solution is used to fix the lashes into place," says Dr. Hilal-Campo.
4. Optional Tinting
Once the perming solution is removed, if you also want your lashes tinted, this is when the dye is applied to make them darker.
After the tint is removed, your lashes will get a nourishing coating, including ingredients like keratin, aloe vera, grapeseed oil, or glycerin.
Why is it important to get a lash lift from a licensed professional?
A lash lift involves the use of strong chemicals near your eyes — and the last thing you want is for something to go wrong.
"Lash lifts can have serious adverse effects and should only be applied by an experienced licensed technician," says Diane Hilal-Campo, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist. "The most serious complication is chemical burns of the cornea or conjunctiva, which can cause scarring and vision loss if the solution enters the eye. Allergic reactions are also possible, presenting with skin irritation, itchiness, blisters, rash, redness, inflammation, or eye-watering.
Beyond compromising eye health, improper lash lifts can also cause the lashes to get brittle and break. "A lash lift should not cause damage to the natural lashes if done correctly," says Richardson. "Damage to natural lashes can only occur if they are over-processed. The technician must be aware of how much time is needed for a lash lift based on the type of hair follicle the client has."
All of the above can be easily avoided when you go to someone who knows what they're doing. "You should always go to a licensed — not just certified — professional when dealing with chemicals and your eyes," says Richardson.
Lash Lift vs. Lash Extensions
"Whether you get a lash lift or lash extensions is all based on personal preference," says Richardson. "Lash extensions will add volume, length, curl, and density. A lash lift and tint will just curl your natural lashes up and is best for those that have strong course healthy."
Lash Lift Aftercare
As we were all taught by Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, you want to keep your lashes dry for at least a day following the perm. "You should not get lashes wet or apply anything to them for 24 to 48 hours after the treatment," says Dr. Hilal-Campo. In addition to skipping makeup, cleansing the eye area, and putting on products with oil in them, you'll also want to avoid the sauna, the gym, and swimming during that time. "After the 24-to-48-hour period, care for your lashes by applying a serum or conditioner to keep lashes hydrated," she says.
For extra nourishment, Richardson recommends the Lash Conditioning Serum ($75) from her line. "Start using this serum two days after your lash lift, and your follow-up lash lift will be even better," says Richardson. "Along with keeping the lashes moisturized, it promotes density and length to the natural lashes."
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