What's Better – Lash Extensions, A Lash Lift Or Mascara?

Illustrated by Olivia Santner
Dear Daniela,
My eyelashes really lack volume and general oomph. They’re not super long, and while I do have my favourite mascaras, I’d definitely consider something a bit more permanent if it was worth it. But what should I have – extensions or a lash lift? Or maybe I just haven’t found the right mascara yet? So many say they’re better than falsies – which I hate, by the way.
Lola, 31
I’m going to go on the record right now and say that I will never, ever be able to apply false eyelashes and I strongly suspect that anyone who can, and isn’t a makeup artist, is a witch. Honestly, the precision needed, getting the right amount of glue, choosing the right strip, cutting them to size... I would rather have a 45-minute conversation with someone who’s really into cryptocurrency. And by that I mean I am immensely jealous of anyone who can apply them.
Basically, I’m on your side here. When false lashes are off the table and mascara isn’t quite cutting it, you're looking at either a lash lift or lash extensions. I’ve had both and they both have their merits, but I decided to recruit Asma Docrat, founder of Boudoir Lashes, for her expert opinion.
"Personally, if I could only have one of the two for the rest of my life, it would be extensions, hands down," explained Asma. "Eyelash extensions are the ne plus ultra of making you look bright eyed and bushy tailed, even if you feel the total opposite. The length, thickness, curl and colour of eyelash extensions beats any mascara – and trust me, I have tried everything from YSL to Max Factor and nothing compares."
But how can you make them look natural? "We have a very thorough procedure at Boudoir Lashes to make sure you don’t walk away looking like a giraffe. We only ever extend your lashes by a third of your natural lash length. Any more, and they’ll be too heavy for you and look weird. Same goes for thickness – you don’t want to overload delicate lashes with really chunky extensions. It’s also quite helpful to bring some photos of the style you like and see if we can do something similar based on your lashes and overall eye shape."
I think that extensions get a bad rep for being the super dramatic option – and they certainly can bring the drama – but it’s possible to have them done in a really natural way, too. The best ones I’ve seen are when I have to keep looking at somebody’s eyes to guess if it’s just great mascara or subtle extensions – the right, lightweight ones really can give such a beautiful and delicate effect. The other benefit is how long they last. "You can always pop in for a top-up once every three to four weeks to keep your lashes looking amazing," added Asma. "They also mean that you wake up looking so much more 'done', which frees you to snooze in" (a powerful argument if I’ve ever heard one). When I’ve had them in the past, I’ve pretty much scrapped wearing any other eye makeup, save a bit of bronzer buffed in the crease – and I really love eyeliner. There’s just something naturally very glamorous about them.
Illustrated by Olivia Santner
That’s not to say a lash lift is off the cards. You’d be surprised how much more awake you look when your lashes are properly curled – it’s an effect that’s hard to achieve with a lash curler. Add a tint to pick up any blonde tips to your lashes, and you might want to skip mascara altogether. It’s certainly a more natural look than extensions, but it still packs a punch. "A lash lift will look great for about two to four weeks," added Asma. "When the new lashes start to grow through you’ll have a mixture of curled and straight lashes."
Personally, I’d say try extensions at least once. You won’t really know how you feel about them until you have it done, and from there, you can decide if you want to go for the subtle volume of a lash lift, or if you want to keep tweaking to find your perfect extension fit. As Asma told me: "Everyone has their own idea of what they consider to be cost-effective, I think it’s all relative to a person’s lifestyle choice. I’ve been doing both treatments for almost 10 years and I can safely say that as long as you follow the prep and aftercare you shouldn’t cause any damage to your lashes."
Good luck!
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