TikTokers everywhere are raving about the dark, fluttery lashes they've acquired without the need for mascara. Promising long-lasting results, zero smudging and perfectly curled, ready-to-go lashes for weeks, it's pretty easy to see the appeal. As lash lifts continue to surge in popularity, a new trend is taking shape on beauty's favourite app.
Enter: Lower LVL.
An extension of the ever popular LVL lash lift, which adds curl and length to your natural lashes, lower LVL aims to make eyes look even brighter, wider and more awake by lengthening your lower lashes. If the TikTok and Instagram clips are anything to go by, it really works. So as a perennially tired, lazy-with-mascara beauty editor (and incidentally, a lash lift novice), I decided it was time to give this new trend a go.
What are LVL lashes?
Before getting into the nitty-gritty about lower LVL, it pays to know exactly how an original lash lift works. Created by Nouveau Lashes, LVL stands for length, volume and lift. "I call LVL the manicure within the lash industry," said Deborah Law, international lash trainer at Nouveau Lashes, as I arrived for my appointment. "It's for clients who want to enhance their own natural lashes."
LVL lashes works by straightening your natural lashes at the root, then curling each lash upwards. The best part is that there is no adhesive or infills involved, which makes it kinder on your lashes compared to eyelash extensions or falsies. Better yet, unlike plenty of mascaras that tug and pull at delicate lashes, the LVL lash treatment features lash-loving ingredients like collagen and oats to boost lash health and minimise damage both during and after treatment. A typical LVL treatment will cost around £45 and the session can last up to an hour.
How does the lower LVL lash treatment work?
Lower LVL lashes are simply an extension of the standard LVL lash treatment where the same four-step process is applied to your lower lashes. It usually costs around £10 for the additional treatment. LVL and lower LVL use the same technique: a solution is applied, which breaks the bonds of your lashes to help reform their shape. "The results of lower LVL are amazing," said Deborah. "It really adds length to the lashes and opens up the eyes."
Interestingly, the trend you're seeing on TikTok actually came about by accident when Deborah decided to try the treatment on a client whose lower lashes crossed over. "I thought, Why not do the same for the lower lashes? before realising that all kinds of lashes could benefit from the treatment." Deborah explained that lower LVL in particular is ideal for people with lower lashes that appear tangled or which lie very close to the skin — often a tell-tale reason why your mascara might transfer and smudge under your eyes. Besides curling the lower lashes, this technique is also thought to help balance out the top lashes, enhancing the shape and brightness of eyes.
What happens during a lower LVL treatment?
Since my natural eyelashes are light and straight, I was intrigued to see how the treatment would work on me. My lower lashes tend to have a life of their own, often making mascara application a little messy. I was also keen to see whether the length and curl I'd spotted all over TikTok might mean I could forgo mascara for a few weeks.
As with all beauty treatments, research is key. Countless TikTok videos taught me that you can't get the area wet for 48 hours afterwards so I arrived smugly at my treatment with just-washed hair. I also had to do a patch test 48 hours prior to the appointment to ensure my skin (which is highly sensitive) didn't react during the treatment.
Deborah made me feel calm and confident during the one-hour appointment and I actually started to feel quite relaxed while lying down with my eyes closed. To start the reshaping process, she added a shape shield to my eyelids, then applied a bonding gel and lifting balm to my lashes, followed by a blue-black lash tint to darken the lower and upper lashes. Finally, Deborah applied the Moisturising Serum to help care for my lashes.
Post-treatment, Deborah told me it was important to take extra care, which meant no pulling at my lashes during the first couple of days. I was also advised to sleep on my back rather than my side, not to wear an eye mask to bed and to avoid any steam rooms or swimming, given that it takes around 48 hours for the perm to set.
I will admit that I was a little nervous before the treatment. With the exception of a couple of lash serums, this is the first time I've tried any kind of professional lash treatment. I was worried the result might look too dramatic or doll-like and that my lashes would appear fake. I even worried I might damage my natural lashes. I can't actually believe how much I love the final result.
My top lashes are now perfectly separated and curled, which is something I can never quite nail with a mascara, and adding the lower LVL lash lift has made my whole face look more awake. The lashes appear more fanned out and the treatment has given them a small lift away from the skin — another result I could never achieve with mascara. I'm pretty low maintenance with my makeup anyway so it's great to be able to walk out of the door with minimal makeup and wearing no mascara whatsoever. Anything that promises to make me look more bright-eyed and awake during the dark and gloomy mornings gets my vote, too.
So, yes — the millions of TikTokers and lower LVL advocates are entirely right. I will 100% be booking in for another treatment in six weeks' time.