Some women think that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. Others may argue that they’d rather possess long, luscious lashes. Most turn to daily applications of mascara to pump up the volume and length of eyelashes, or perhaps false eyelashes for a more dramatic effect. Eyelash extensions are a type of false eyelashes that can last weeks instead of hours — and cost much more than the drugstore versions. However, many women find the added expense worth it.

How They’re Applied

Unlike the false eyelashes that stick onto your eyelids, eyelash extensions are bonded to your actual eyelash. During application, a trained esthetician or cosmetologist dips individual eyelashes into a medical-grade adhesive, then attaches each to a natural eyelash. The extension is usually placed about one millimeter from your eyelash line so that neither the glue nor the eyelash touches the skin of your eyelid. Initial application generally takes 75 to 90 minutes, and each subsequent touchup — which you’ll need every four to six weeks — takes about an hour. During application, you will lie on a treatment bed with your eyes closed.

Getting Your Lashes to Last

Eyelash extensions usually last from four to six weeks. The exact amount of time you can go without getting a touchup depends on how fast your eyelashes grow and how careful you are with your extensions. Don’t get eyelash extensions wet for 24 to 48 hours after application. Avoid pulling on extensions. Excessive pulling, twisting and tugging not only shortens the life of your extensions, but it can also damage your natural lashes. Use only water-based mascara, moisturizer and makeup remover. Oil-based products can break down the adhesive and loosen the bond.

Making Makeup Work

You can still wear makeup with eyelash extensions, but you may find that you want to wear less. Use eyeliner and eye shadow as you usually do, but avoid mechanical eyelash curlers and use only water-based mascaras. Remove eye makeup using a cotton pad and a small amount of water-based eye makeup remover. Place the cotton pad right above your eyelashes and move the pad up toward your eyebrow instead of down toward your lashes. Swiping in a downward motion can cause makeup to cake onto the extensions and shorten their lifespan.

Potential for Side Effects

Although eyelash extensions are fairly harmless, they do not come without the potential for side effects. Some people are sensitive or allergic to the adhesive used during application. If you are concerned about allergies or sensitivities, ask your esthetician or cosmetologist to do a patch test prior to applying the whole set of lashes. Another concern is breakage of your natural eyelashes. Those who regularly get eyelash extensions are more likely to experience hair breakage.