What Are Alternatives to Lash Extensions?
There are tons of products lining the shelves of the beauty department that want to help you get more voluminous lashes. Some products are there to enhance your natural lashes; others take a more synthetic approach.
Naturally, some products are better than others, but we’ll let you be the judge of what’s right for your lash routine.
The classic solution. Since ancient times, there’s always been a mascara in some form or another to lengthen your lashes.
However, since those ancient times, mascara formulas have really advanced. There are several different types of mascaras to choose from to enhance your lashes. As you peruse the shelf, consider these types:
Fiber mascara is formulated with microscopic fibers, like rayon, nylon, or silk, that cling to your lashes on application. These little fibers extend and volumize the lashes.
Fiber mascaras are safe, just be mindful as you remove them since the little fibers commonly flake and fall into your eye, which is uncomfortable but unlikely to cause serious harm.
Typically, curling mascaras come with a curved brush instead of a straight one to help you curl your lashes manually.
As the brush adds curl to your lashes, the polymers in the formula latch on to the new curl, holding them in place and keeping them curled. Curling mascaras are great for people with naturally stick straight lashes.
Tubing mascara literally forms a tube around each natural lash. These little cone-like tubes provide both length and volume without the flaking of fiber mascara.
Tubing mascara is also easier to remove than other types because of the way it bonds to your natural lashes.
Volumizing mascara, as the name suggests, is primarily for vamping up the volume. Though it may be clumpier than other types of mascara, volumizing mascara has a thicker, waxier formula typically composed of silicone polymers to add mega density to your lashes.
Waterproof mascara is incredibly popular because of its durability. From the track to the pool to the tear-jerking romance movies (it’s okay, we cried too), waterproof mascara is a mainstay of most any modern cosmetic bag.
These mascaras are usually silicone based with dimethicone copolyol to make them waterproof. They almost never contain oil, which is why you need an oil based remover to take it off at the end of the day.
Natural mascara typically uses activated charcoal or natural clays for coloring. If you’re a little weary of how many chemicals you put in, on, or near your body (especially your eyes), natural mascara is a great option for you. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it's good enough for us!
Lash serums aren’t necessarily an alternative to eyelash extensions since they could just as well be a precursor to lash extensions. Lash serums are, in theory, like vitamins for your lashes to help them grow strong and lush.
When you use an effective lash serum for a few months before getting extensions, your extensions will have stronger lashes to bond to. However, you should not use serum and extensions simultaneously since the serum can impede the bond.
When we say that lash serums are like a vitamin for your eyelashes, that’s actually only one part of their ingredient list: a good lash serum will contain vitamins, oils, proteins, and other ingredients that will stimulate growth from the lash follicles.
Eyelash growth serum may help your lashes grow longer or fuller, but no one can totally guarantee it. However, even if the growth doesn’t change, serums can still benefit the overall health of your natural lashes by keeping them saturated in moisturizers and nutrients.
The FDA does not regulate lash serums, so it’s up to you to diligently check the ingredient list of any lash serum you consider buying. Not all brands use exclusively good-for-you ingredients.
What Lashes Love
- Keratin – Protein for structure! The natural building block of hair and nails.
- Vitamin B5 – Moisturizing vitamin that will likely appear as panthenol on the ingredient list.
- Biotin – Also known as vitamin B7, it makes your lashes strong and durable.
- Castor Oil – Excellent moisturizer for a dewy glow.
- Pumpkin Seed Extract – Contains both a vitamin B complex as well as a conditioning moisturizer.
- Peptides (Amino Acids) – Repair microscopic damage on your lashes and nourish them at the root. All polypeptides are welcome, especially arginine, which increases keratin.
- Hyaluronic Acid – Maximum hydration helper.
- Ceramides – Lipids that help you retain moisture in your skin and lashes.
- Collagen – A cocktail of proteins that increase the elasticity and durability of your skin and lashes.
What Lashes Want You To Leave
Isopropyl cloprostenol is a synthetic chemical that mimics the active ingredient in glaucoma medication. This ingredient, and the ingredient it mimics, can cause severe side effects. Ophthalmologists strongly advise against using lash serums with this ingredient.
A lash lift is a chemical process that curls your natural lashes — like a perm for your lashes.
At first glance, a lash lift may seem like another lash serum, but that is not the case. While lash serums can be composed of ingredients that are safe to use at home, lash lifts are far harsher chemical processes that should only ever be administered by a professional.
The FDA does not regulate DIY lash lift kits. The vast majority of at-home lash lift kits contain potentially dangerous chemicals. Professional kits, with keratin as the first active ingredient, in the hands of a skilled esthetician are much safer. Please note DIY lash lift kits are very dangerous.
So what makes these kits dangerous? The usual suspects: Formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and methylparaben.
Accidentally getting any of this junk in your eye can damage your cornea and even cause vision loss. Don’t bet on amateur skills when it comes to your eye safety, you don’t want to take that risk. Please see a professional if you’re considering a lash lift.
Professionally done, lash lifts are a great alternative to extensions since the lift will last between six and eight weeks. They require basically zero maintenance between lifts. You won’t even need to use mascara, though you can if you really want to.
Lash lifts add curl and length, but not volume, so a volumizing mascara might make a good tool in your clutch. Ask your esthetician when it’s safe to apply mascara after your procedure. The lift’s curl will be consistent in that time frame, though not as extreme as some curled extensions.
Lash lifts are more subtle than extensions; they look more natural because all they’ll see is your natural lashes. However, there are still a ton of unnatural chemicals at play, so even though it will look more natural, looks can be deceiving. Still, the subtly is a major draw for lash lift fans.
Lash lifts are best for people with lashes that grow slowly since a slower growth cycle means that the curl will hold longer since your eyelashes aren’t falling out as quickly. Lash lifts are most noticeable on people with long lashes.
Estheticians will have difficulty curling short lashes, and the results might not be as noticeable as you’d like. Extensions might be smarter for those with short lashes, but a lash lift could still be worth a try, especially if your goal is subtlety.
Bonus, professional lash lifts are generally less expensive than professionally applied lash extensions. However, DIY lash extensions are often more cost-effective.
After all, professionals need to pay rent for their salon and their own salaries, so going to a professional for anything will be more expensive than a DIY eyelash solution. It’s not uncommon to pay up to $200 per lash lift, depending on your location, and $200 every six weeks adds up very quickly.
Don’t go to the cheapest professional you can find. This is not a procedure to try out from a beginner or a poorly reviewed salon. A low price might be a red flag for the salon’s safety, so read reviews carefully.
Always ask for a patch test on your arm of any serums used on your lashes to reduce your risk of allergic reaction. The chemicals used in a lash lift are harsh, so you don’t want any surprises when it comes in contact with the delicate skin around your eye.
Strip lashes are the cheapest fake lashes available. Because of their wide availability and low price point, they may seem like the most obvious alternative to lash extensions.
Over time, however, the low cost really adds up since they’re generally single-use. Do we really need more single-use plastics in the world?
Strip lashes are any lashes sold as a strip. They’re typically made of synthetic materials like plastic. Because of their cheap materials and impersonal structure, they rarely look natural. They look fake when they’re on your face because they’re harder to blend into your natural lashes.
There are a few other good reasons to avoid strip lashes. Most strip lash glues are full of formaldehyde, cyanoacrylates, or other carcinogens, which can irritate your eyes at best and cause vision loss at worst.
The application tool is just a pair of tweezers, which is not exactly ergonomic; applying one, long, unwieldy strip would be tricky even with a dedicated tool, so a regular pair of tweezers seems like a user experience afterthought.
However, like most products, there are low-quality and high-quality versions; it just depends on your budget and the store you’re shopping with. If you’re going to pay for a nice lash though, why pay for a single use, impersonal strip lash when you could get a high quality, reusable at-home DIY lash extension system like Lashify’s Gossamers? Just something to think about!