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Eyelash extensions have become increasingly popular over the past few years. They're incredibly expensive when offered to be done right, but I'm so excited to share my dirt cheap, potentially DIY alternative to individual eyelash extensions!
I had my first set of extensions done for prom a fews years ago and fell in love with not having to worry about mascara (or getting it off), and loved waking up every morning just feeling pretty. It cost me $125 for the initial set and every 3-4 weeks after that $75 for a fill. One of the benefits was the girl who did mine was very experienced, came to my house so I didn't have to worry about meeting her, and I got a nice hour and a half long nap every time she did them. I loved her, my new lashes, and how long my lashes lasted, but eventually it became way too costly for me. I wasn't ready to give up my long, luscious lashes so I took a trip to my local Sally Beauty Supply Store and my life changed forever that day.
Not really knowing what I was looking for, I stumbled across an Ardell Individual Lashes Starter Kit and it was the best $10 I ever spent. The pack includes a pair of tweezers for applying the lashes, a tiny bottle of eyelash glue, a tiny bottle of eyelash remover, five rows of flared, knotted individual eyelashes. The top row of the tray of lashes includes short-length lashes, these are perfect for the inner corner of the eye, two rows of medium-length lashes, and a row of long-length lashes for the outer corner of the eye, or to mix with the medium-length lashes for a more voluminous look.
Basically, I found this $10 kit and never went back. After purchasing the kit, I applied the lashes myself and it was super easy. The lashes are three black individual lashes that are knotted together to create a more volumized lash per real eyelash. A combination of short, medium, and long length lashes, applied at the root of the eyelash using a dab of the provided glue on the end of each lash creates the perfect look. Depending on the look you're going for, the amount of lashes you use can be layered to create the appearance of false lashes, or a single layer can appear more natural appearance.
Now that I am comfortable with applying these kinds of lashes, I work with a tray of Ardell medium-length lashes, I buy from Sally's for about $6 (you can also find the kits at Target and Walmart). The large tray usually lasts me for two fills, which is usually a month. Six dollars for a month worth of lashes is pretty great. Since I've began using the trays without the kits, I use the tweezers from previously bought kits, but I use Ardell's black strip lash adhesive, I've found that this gives a more natural appearance, as the clear glue that comes in the kit is noticeable when my eyes are closed—the black glue is not. The black glue however, does come off with water—meaning that if you're in the shower and you tug on them, they will come off of your real eyelashes. The clear glue stays on through it all, sleep or shower I never really had a problem with the lashes falling off using this glue, but like I said it's easy to see close up. The only way to get the lashes off applied with clear glue is to use the remover if you don't want your natural lashes falling out. That's another reason why I prefer the black adhesive, if I want to take the lashes out to re-adjust or start over, give my real lashes a break, whatever the reason, I just get them wet and tug them off. With the black adhesive the lashes will stay together so if I am just taking a break I can easily re-apply the same lashes in pieces almost like a lash strip broken into fours. This takes also takes a lot less time than re-applying lashes or filling as if I was starting over with fresh lashes from the tray.
A pro-tip: If you're using the clear glue to start with your kit, and want a natural lash look, if you're comfortable—apply the lashes underneath your real eyelashes. You do this by putting the lash glue on the top of the lash extension and just lift your natural lashes. This prevents that crusty dried glue look on top of your lashes.
Pro-tip: Unless you're using a mix of short, medium, and long length lashes, I highly suggest using mascara on the inner corner and outer corner for your natural lashes that the individuals don't reach to. For example, my eye shape doesn't allow for me to apply medium length lashes to the very inner corner or outer corners because they end up rubbing my eyelid and eventually fall off. I use a small-wanded mascara to just blend my naturals so the extensions look more natural, this way there isn't a drastic change from long black to blonde stubbies (see picture below, the inner and outer corner I would typically apply mascara to).
Another pro-tip: If you have trouble doing this yourself, ask your sister, a girlfriend, or a boyfriend to do it for you. It will actually take about 15 minutes less this way and it's so simple virtually anyone can do it. When I apply myself it takes about 45 minutes to get the perfect, lasting look because it's harder to apply with one eye than it is to apply with both eyes closed!
This still beats a hour and a half–two hour process and even though it might not last a whole 3–4 weeks it is so much cheaper, easier and if you get good enough at it, could look better than getting individual eyelash extensions done at a salon or by a licensed professional.
One last pro-tip: Before all your glue has dried, pinch the lashes to your real lashes, and if you ever need to readjust a lash, pinching almost always does the trick.
This has been my secret method to long, beautiful natural lashes, I get so many people that ask me, "Are those your real lashes?!" I always tell them no, I wish! But it is such an effective alternative to expensive lash extensions, that you can do yourself- totally worth a try.