Are Keratin Lash Lifts The Secret To "Woke Up Like This" Lashes?

Photographed by Caroline Tompkins.
Hairstylists and makeup artists aren't the only pros getting the tagging creds on Instagram anymore: These days, more and more women are giving social-media shoutouts to their lash stylists. Eyelash tinting, extensions, and lash lifts are all on the rise, and it's no wonder why. Who doesn't want to roll out of bed with fluttery lashes before they've even brushed their teeth?
New lash salons seem to set up shop daily, and one particular service has been garnering attention for its ability to enhance your natural lashes all on their own, without adding any faux hairs. Keratin lash lifts are growing in popularity for their ability to give you a look that's like your lashes, but better — and by "better," we mean curlier and more defined.
As the name implies, a keratin lash lift "lifts" the lashes to new heights, but how does it actually work, and how is it different from all the other services? We turned to Envious Lashes founder Clementina Richardson, who sees 7 to 10 clients for keratin lifts daily, to answer all our questions about the buzzy treatment.

How does a keratin lash lift work?

The "lifting" part of the name comes from the fact that the keratin treatment works to lift your lash from base to tip, as a mascara wand would, so that you're able to see its full length. But instead of a wand, the effect is achieved using a silicone rod covered in a keratin formula. In the same way that keratin serves as a building block to healthy hair for the strands on your head, this protein works to smooth out and strengthen your lashes while giving them semi-permanent shape.
Your eyes remain closed throughout the entire process, which involves setting your lashes by curling them upwards on the silicone rods, then coating the strands with the keratin solution. At 45 minutes to an hour, the service requires a lot less time than eyelash extensions, which usually take two or more hours. Also good to know: The size of the silicone rod makes all the difference. "There are different types of rods that are used depending on the desired styling and the amount of curl you would like to achieve," says Richardson. "The larger the rod, the softer the curl."

Are keratin lash lifts and other lash lifts the same thing?

No, not all lash lift services are keratin-based — and a keratin lash lift isn't a lash perm, either. "A lash perm is a very different process because it's curling the lash using an alkaline solution vs. lifting it," says Richardson. "Keratin must be present in the formulation in order for it to be considered a keratin lash lift.” That's why Richardson advises making sure that you do your research and work with licensed and certified professionals, who can differentiate the services.

Who is a keratin lash lift for?

For those who find the volume or upkeep of extensions to be too much, then keratin lash lifts might be a better alternative — they create more of a natural look and don't require frequent touchups. "For the client who wants a natural 'woke up like this' appearance, the service alone is perfect," says Richardson. But if you're looking for drama or the same type of finish you'd get from layers of mascara, it may not be enough for you. "In some cases, lifting doesn’t give off the mascara effect that extensions do, especially for those with naturally very fine and light lashes," she says.
Certain lash lifts also work great as a pre-service to extensions if you're looking for a fuller, more dramatic look. The lifting treatment can be done a couple of weeks prior to the extension application for added lift and volume, which will also reduce the contrast of your natural lashes against the extensions.

How much does a keratin lash lift cost?

Prices vary depending on location and lash stylist; at Richardson's salon, the starting price is $175 and can go up if done in addition to packages. She advises doing your research before the appointment, and being clear about what you're looking for by going over styles offered, showing pictures (preferably from the stylist's own Instagram), and discussing needs or concerns.

How long does a keratin lash lift last?

Keratin-based lash lifts last for about four to 6 weeks, but in order to make them last that long, it's crucial to follow the rules for post-lift care. Aside from not getting your lashes wet for the first 48 hours, you should treat your eye area like a safety hazard zone, also paying attention to your skin-care regimen. "Avoid rubbing your eyes and using oil-based products and heavy creams around your eye," Richardson says. "Plus, avoid playing with, picking, and excessively touching your lashes."
The lashes will also need to be gently brushed with a clean spoolie to ensure you're keeping the area free of dust or bacteria. As for makeup, it's best to avoid cream-based liners — stick to pencil or liquid — and mascaras altogether. The biggest no-no? "Never use a mechanical eyelash curler," Richardson says.

Are keratin lash lifts safe?

Safety measures should be your number one concern, and they should start from the very beginning, by researching stylists. With the eye being such a sensitive area, you want to make sure that you're looking for the right professional to carry out this treatment. "Finding someone who is certified to apply the lashes is a must. Depending on the state, the stylist also needs to be licensed, not just certified," says Richardson. "I have seen way too many improper applications and damaged lashes over the course of my career. Lash lifts and lash services in general are a lot easier to mess up than they are to get right. "
One of the most common mistakes that Richardson has witnessed is using the incorrect rod or leaving the product on for too long, which could prevent regrowth of your natural lashes or leave you with uneven, clumpy hairs. Having the right professional also means a lower risk of a situation in which chemicals are being applied to the eye area. Similar to eyelash extensions, it's important to remember that you are susceptible to damaging the eyelash follicle, trauma to the eyelid, and allergic reactions.
As for the application, Richardson says, "It’s crucial to keep your eyes closed during the process and not let the formula get in contact with the eye itself, as that could cause a severe reaction if you open your eyes." Ultimately, it's all about doing it right, so that your dream of waking up with lush, no-mascara-required lashes doesn't turn into a nightmare. If all goes to plan, you'll soon be scratching one more item off your morning to-do list.
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