What's The Difference Between Lash Extensions & A Lash Lift?

Illustrated by Olivia Santner.
False eyelashes should be a worthwhile option for those in pursuit of major lashes without going the more permanent route, but for the average person (who doesn't do makeup for a living), being able to apply them accurately, with a steady hand, is straight-up witchcraft. Between the necessary precision, getting the right amount of glue, choosing the right strip, cutting them to size... we'd almost prefer having a tedious 45-minute conversation with someone who's really into cryptocurrency.
So when false lashes are off the table, and mascara isn't quite giving you the lash intensity you so desperately dream of, you're looking at either a lash lift or extensions. Both choices have their merits, but they are different — and Asma Docrat, founder of Boudoir Lashes in London, says that, at the end of the day, one does have an advantage.
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"Personally, if I could only have one of the two for the rest of my life, it would be extensions, hands down," Docrat says. "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 color of eyelash extensions beats any mascara — and trust me, I have tried everything from high-end to drugstore and nothing compares."
But how can you make them look natural? Docrat says that her studio has a very thorough, stringent procedure to make sure nobody walks away looking like a giraffe. "We only ever extend your lashes by a third of your natural length," she explains. "Any more, and they'll be too heavy for you and look weird." The same goes for thickness: You don't want to overload your delicate lashes with chunky, heavy 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 natural lashes and overall eye shape."
Extensions might get a bit of a bad rap as being a super-dramatic option, but it's possible to have them done in a really natural way, too. The other benefit is how long they last. "You can always pop in for a top-up every three to four weeks to keep your lashes looking amazing," Docrat says. "They also mean that you wake up looking so much more 'done,' which frees you up to hit snooze a couple more times."
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That’s not to say you shouldn't rule out a lash lift — it's certainly a more natural look than extensions, but it still packs a punch, and you'd be surprised by how much more awake you look when your lashes are properly curled or even tinted. "A lash lift will look great for about two to four weeks," Docrat says. "When the new lashes start to grow through, though, you'll have a mixture of curled and straight lashes."
The overall verdict? Well, it does come down to personal preference. You can't know how you feel about extensions until you've done them, and from there, you can decide if you want to trade in for the subtle volume of a lash lift or if you want to keep tweaking to find your perfect extension fit. "Everyone has their own idea of what they consider to be cost-effective — I think it’s all relative to a person’s lifestyle choices," Docrat says. "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." So, with that out of the way, why not spring for those extensions you can't stop thinking about?
This story was originally published on Refinery29 UK.
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