You can’t really miss the Kim-Kardarshian-style eyelashes that have taken over your Insta feeds the last few years. But before you try eyelash extensions — where individual lashes made of silk, mink, or nylon are glued to your own lashes — here are some things you should know.
First, they are definitely one of those beauty services where you get what you pay for. It takes a long time to learn to do lashes properly, and a long time to actually apply them (1.5-3 hours, depending on what type of look you want.) If someone says they can do a full set in an hour for $60, you should take your fine ass out the door, stat. Especially because there are actually zero regulations in Canada around eyelash extensions or the technicians who are coming at your eyeballs with glue and super sharp tweezers. (The Canadian Association of Optometrists and the Ontario Association of Optometrists, have posted warnings about extension-related damage like contact dermatitis, eye infections, and even permanent loss of lashes now that anybody can hang out a shingle calling themselves a lash artist.)
Other red flags: if you feel burning throughout the application process, if your lashes stick together, or they use pre-made cluster lashes. These pre-glued fake-lash bouquets are heavy and damaging to your own lashes — a skilled technician will always hand-make fans by attaching a number of extremely thin, lightweight lashes to each of your natural lashes one-by-one for that fluffy look.
The good news? If you treat those babies right — keep them dry for the first 12 hours, wash them daily with a lash cleanser, only use oil-free products around your eyes, don’t wear mascara and don’t rub your eyes — your lashes can last about three weeks.
To minimize your chances of lashes gone wrong, here are some of our go-to lash extension spots in Toronto. We tried them all because science (and also, damn — we looked good).
This low-frills Koreatown spot is a Toronto institution. One of the OG lash bars in town (it celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2019) owner Linh Nguyen was one of the first to win an award from NEESA, which is basically the Oscars of eyelash extensions. She’s spent many years since judging competitions and training the next generation of lash techs. First timers at Beyond Beauty get a cute welcome kit that includes a complimentary bottle of lash cleanser. FYI Beyond Beauty only provides volume sets — where many lighter, fluffier lashes are attached to each of your own lashes (customers just weren’t asking for the more natural-looking classics — where only one extension is attached to each lash — anymore). Sets from $185-$445 at Beyond Beauty
This pretty spot — think chandeliers, white walls, and spa music — is the go-to salon for all the Lululemon-wearing Leaside ladies. Flutters has a windowsill full of lash awards and trophies, and here’s a hot tip: they have different prices depending on if you’re getting lashed by a junior, senior, or the master herself, owner Stephy Le, who has eight years of lash experience. If you’re not in a rush, try booking with a junior artist — they take longer but they’re more affordable. Sets from $180-$380 Flirtyflutters
You might not expect to find a high-quality lash spot hiding in a meh medical building in Don Mills, but owner Naoko Ito has been in the eyelash game for 10 years — longtime customers log major kilometres to visit her and her team (there’s free parking, too). Each lash set is fully customizable, but if you’re stumped you can choose from handy style cheat sheets. Options include a Feline Flick (a cat eye that gets longer by the outer edge) a Dolly Lift (long in the middle, shorter on the edges so you look like that haunted porcelain doll who appears behind you when you gaze into a dusty Victorian mirror) or Natural Sweep (longer in the middle and towards the edge). Sets from $150-$350, Divine Lashes
A go-to spot for beauty industry peeps, Veronica Tran’s mini-eye empire (there’s also a Markham location) has been around since 2005. Tran is an esthetician and was one of the first people to start offering eyelash and permanent makeup services in Toronto. Her four-chair, two-room studio is small, but mighty (she employs four lash artists) and Tran is regularly featured as an eyelash and micro-blading expert in fashion mags and on respected fashion and beauty sites like yours truly. Sets from $93-$325, Pretty in the City