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By now, lots of us have mastered gel polish removal, waxing and cutting our own hair at home, as salons across certain parts of the country remain closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. But one of the trickiest treatments to master without a trained professional to do it for you is removing eyelash extensions.
If you're a lash extensions regular, you'll know just how intricate and time-consuming the process is, as each individual lash is primed and attached one by one. In fact, full sets often take up to three hours. Usually, lash extensions require a fresh set every six to eight weeks as lashes start to fall out naturally or droop down. Just like manicures and fringe trims, you'd be forgiven for attempting to remove extensions yourself but according to experts it can be tricky and potentially dangerous.
Lash expert Camilla Kirk-Reynolds of Camilla Lashes acknowledges that there is lots of false information out there, and one risky tip is using oils to speed up the removal process. "It is often said that oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or any other oils or creams could work as a potential option to remove your extensions," says Camilla. "But these products are not designed to remove your lash extensions. In fact, they could do more damage than not. The worst-case scenario with these home remedies is that you could end up frustrated and pull your own lashes out, which would be counterproductive. Pulling out your extensions while attached to natural lashes can damage the natural lash hair follicle."
While lash experts always recommend visiting an expert for removal, that obviously isn't an option at the moment. Instead, Camilla suggests investing in professional yet gentle at-home lash extension removers and rates Nouveau Lashes Lash Extension Remover, approx. $18.50. "Sweep the product on to the lashes with the eye open, using the same technique that you would when applying mascara," says Camilla. Take extra caution not to get the solution in your eye and let it sit on the lashes for up to five minutes.
By now, your extensions should be loose. "Gently slide the extensions away from the natural lashes with a tissue," says Camilla. She suggests avoiding using applicators such as cotton buds or cotton wool rounds. "Fibres from the cotton could catch on the extensions and pull them out along with your natural lashes prematurely," adds Camilla. "The best things to use are lint-free applicators and cosmetic sponges or a simple tissue."
Camilla continues: "If your lash extensions do not all come off in one go the first time you try, then repeat this process until they do, but be sure you do not pull your extensions so hard that your natural lashes come out with them. The extensions should slide off with ease and without pain."
The next couple of steps are crucial to ensure the safety of your lashes, eyes and delicate skin around the eye area. "Once the lashes have been removed safely, do not soak or drench your eyes with water or eye makeup remover as the extension remover will still be on your lashes and may seep into your eyes, causing pain or discomfort," says Camilla. "Instead, use a small amount (just enough to make a cotton pad or tissue damp) and remove the final residue from your lashes."
Try something gentle like Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water, $18, Simple Kind to Eyes Eye Make Up Remover, $4, or Garnier Micellar Water Sensitive Skin, $7. "Once the product is fully removed, rinse your face, eyes and lashes with lukewarm water to soothe and cleanse the lashes." Try not to rub your eyes with a towel or a facecloth.
Another thing Camilla warns against is buying professional-grade treatments online. In untrained hands, they could cause more harm than good. "There is a risk of causing yourself significant pain if the solution goes into your eyes," adds Camilla. "In the worst case, it could cause blindness and should be taken very seriously. Before purchasing products, please be very careful and wary of companies selling removers unless specifically stated that they are for 'at-home' use."
Lastly, Camilla mentions that extensions which have been applied correctly, with the correct weight and length for each individual natural lash, should grow out easily. "They should not hurt, cause irritation or twist. If you want to remove your lashes because you are experiencing any of those issues, it's time to change your lash extension expert."