How To Get Natural-Looking Eyelash Extensions

Photographed by Nina Westervelt.
Formerly only enjoyed by Hollywood’s elite, in the past five years lash extensions have become as ubiquitous as teeth-whitening. Accordingly, lash boutiques have popped up all over New York City and beyond. The pricey (yet magical) service, while lengthy to do in one shot, will save you an abundance of time in the morning putting on mascara and liner. (Take it from me: Waking up Starbucks-ready can make you feel as if returning to mascara would be the technological equivalent of eschewing email in favor of carrier pigeons.)

But, if your end game is being on the receiving end of questions like, “What mascara is that?” instead of, “Who does your lash extensions?” then you should read on. We caught up with two of the best lash ladies in the biz, Courtney Akai Lash Boutique owner Courtney Akai and Xtreme Lashes cofounder Jo Mousselli, about customizing length, tending to different textures, and scoring a more natural extended look.       

Variation Is Key

For subtle length and volume, Mousselli recommends asking your technician to combine multiple extension thicknesses, lengths, and curvatures. “This yields a soft, feathery look,” she explains. “If you want a bolder, more voluminous look, our Faux Mink Bold eyelash extensions and Xtreme Lashes Volumation technique are good options.” Akai advises asking for a material that mimics natural lashes, like lightweight silk or mink. “This will make them appear darker, but people won't think that you have extensions at all.” Thickness options range from .05 to .2 mm, so test out something on the thinner end of the spectrum.       

Know Your Curl Options
If you’ve gotten extensions before, you may know about “J” versus “D” curls. But, there is practically a whole alphabet of bend nuances. Akai, who uses NovaLash, breaks down the brand’s offerings as follows:     

● J curl has no curl to it. 
● B curl has a very slight curl to it.
● C curl is a bit curlier than the B curl. 
● D curl is the curliest lash. It gives the effect of a lash curler!
● L and L+ curls are straight at the base and curl at the ends.    

Xtreme has a different system, based on the degree of curvature (i.e., the shape of the extensions). X30 is the least amount of curl, while X50 is the most. “The X30 and X35 curvatures allow stylists to create soft, curled looks that elongate a client’s eyes,” Mousselli says. “The X40 and X50 curvatures add lift to clients' eyes without making them appear unnatural.”   

Be Leery Of Leaning
Leaning is great if you're Jordan Catalano, but not so much as it relates to your lashline. What is leaning? After the extension application, the natural eyelashes continue to grow. The extension was originally placed about 1 mm from the eyelid, but between the first service and your next appointment, “the natural lash may grow significantly, placing the eyelash extension 2 to 3 mm from the eyelid,” Mousselli explains. “As this growth happens, the extension may begin to tilt or lean from the positioning or natural-lash growth direction.” During your next appointment, your stylist will gently remove these and replace them with new eyelash extensions. As long as you don’t tamper with them (rub, pull, pick, or play), your natural lashes won’t be shorter or weaker. Akai says to rub a small amount of baby oil onto your lashes every few days to keep them looking great longer.

Tailor To Texture
Mousselli recommends that those with naturally curly lashes make touch-up appointments more frequently; about every two weeks. “Eyelash extensions begin to lean as curly natural eyelashes progress through their natural growth stages, which is unsafe for natural eyelashes. Returning every two weeks allows your lash stylist to remove outgrown, damaged, or leaning eyelash extensions and replace them with fresh, properly positioned ones... 'Downward-growing' natural eyelashes benefit from stronger curvatures, such as X40 or X50, because they add lift to eyes,” Mousselli says. Akai opts for a lightweight D curl for clients with curly hair. For most Asian women, she tends to use J, L, or L+. If va-va-volume is more your speed than length, Akai recommends the volume-lash technique, otherwise known as the 3D-lash technique. This entails applying several extensions to a single natural one for more oomph.  

If all of this sounds confusing, it's because lash extensions are a whole world unto itself. The best thing you can do is book consultations at a couple of different salons and see what each technician recommends. (Just like at the doctor, it's always better to get a second opinion.) There, you can ask specific questions about what you've read here, and then get the lashes that work for you. 

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Photographed by Nina Westervelt.

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