What Exactly Is A Lash Lift, And How Is It Done?

Experts explain just how long this trendy procedure lasts and what exactly it does.
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Thinking about upping your eyelash game this year? Let us introduce you to the lash lift, a semi-permanent treatment that aims to curl your lashes upward so you can ditch the eyelash curler.

The process, which is generally painless and fairly quick, seems to be gaining popularity. Loads of people who’ve tried the treatment have glowing things to say about it. Chrissy Metz and Karrueche Tran are among the celebrities who swear by it.

Lash lifts, unlike lash extensions ― which involve adhering false inserts to the lash line to create fullness ― are all about enhancing what a person already has. They’re essentially like a perm for your lashes.

In order to find out how the process works, we went straight to the experts. Read on to find out all you need to know about lash lifts:

What exactly is a lash lift?

It’s like perming your lashes into a lifted, curled state. But unlike the harsh formulas that were once used to perm the hair on our heads, the treatment for lash lifts is gentler, according to Courtney Buhler, CEO and founder of Sugarlash PRO.

It’s also not quite the same thing as previous lash perm methods, which have existed for years, Buhler said. She explained that the old method of lash perming included a different formula and a different tool for actually curling lashes. The treatment was even banned by a number of states in the 2000s, and the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning against one perming cream in the late ’80s.

Before and after a lash lift done by Angela Cordi.
Angela Cordi
Before and after a lash lift done by Angela Cordi.

How does it all work?

Before starting the actual process, Angela Cordi, a makeup artist and eyelash technician in Toronto, said the eye area and lashes should be free of makeup and oil. The technician then applies a silicone mold or shield onto the eyelid using a non-toxic glue. “That’s the only thing that touches the skin,” Cordi added.

With the silicone mold on the eyelid, the technician then curls the lashes using the glue over the mold, which is curved upward and outward to create a curl. As Buhler noted, once the lashes are adhered to the shield and separated, that will reveal the final outcome. It should be noted that this service is done on the upper lashes.

“Once each and every lash is applied onto the mold, we separate them individually, so you get a nice curl on the lashes, and you would apply the perm solution,” Cordi added. “The perm solution is a chemical solution that sits on the root of the eyelashes, between the root and middle of the lash, and it would sit ― depending on the client ― from 10 to 15 minutes.”

Buhler said it could take as little as five minutes, though the processing time depends on the thickness of the hair.

Buhler said the perm solution “softens the hair so it’s malleable or vulnerable .... Then we wipe that off and put on the setting solution, and that re-hardens the hair so the shape is set in place.” (That setting solution, also known as a neutralizer, prevents over-processing, which could lead to leashes looking too curly, according to Cordi, or even droopy, according to Buhler.)

To get the desired curl, there are different mold shapes and sizes, Buhler added. She stressed Cordi’s point about applying the solution only to the base and middle of the lashes to avoid any damage or breakage to the lash tips.

These photos show the lash lift process. From left, the lashes are spread out over the silicone mold, the perm solution is applied and then a neutralizer ends the process.
Angela Cordi
These photos show the lash lift process. From left, the lashes are spread out over the silicone mold, the perm solution is applied and then a neutralizer ends the process.

Once the solution is removed, an oil or conditioning solution is often applied to the lashes. Lash lifts are often paired with lash tints for extra oomph, Cordi and Buhler said.

When the treatment is done, the client should avoid getting the newly permed lashes wet for the first 24 hours, Cordi and Buhler agreed.

“You just don’t want to use anything that would get your lashes wet, even in terms of steam, hot shower, hot yoga,” she said. “The longer you let it set, the longer it’s going to last.”

Cordi also advised against sleeping too roughly on your lashes, which could cause them to lose the shape.

How long does a lash lift last?

Typically, a lash lift will last six to eight weeks, about the same amount of time as the lash growth cycle. Buhler said that they could last up to 10 weeks for some people.

When it comes to maintaining a lash lift, Cordi said, it’s super easy. “Once it’s done, it’s done,” she said, noting that after that first day, you can wear mascara, not wear mascara or rub your eyes, and the results would still be visible.

How much does it cost?

A lash lift on its own can run you anywhere from $65 on up, Cordi said. But Buhler gauged the price at about $100 to $125. If you add a lash tint, it will be more expensive.

A Sugarlash PRO client's lashes before and after a lift treatment.
A Sugarlash PRO client's lashes before and after a lift treatment.

Can anything go wrong?

Both Cordi and Buhler said that they rarely see clients react badly to lash lifts. Lashes that are over-processed could look over-curled or droopy. The worst case, according to Buhler, would be breakage.

There’s always a chance of an allergic reaction, as with any treatment involving a chemical solution, but in Buhler’s experience, lash lifts are “generally tolerated by anyone, and any adverse effects are very, very rare.”

Cordi said she always does a thorough consultation with clients to find out if they have any sensitivities or suffer from conditions like dry eyes.

“It’s not recommended ever to do things toward the eyes if you are naturally sensitive or irritable,” Cordi said. “But, for the most part, I’ve never had anybody have a reaction or any sort of sensitivities to it.”

“I don’t recommend it for people on any eye medication, [who’ve had] laser eye surgery or [during] pregnancy, just because, again, it is a chemical. I don’t like to shy away from that,” Cordi added. “I tell people it’s safe for the eyelashes, but it is a chemical solution and does contain sulfur and other ingredients that, if you are sensitive, could cause sensitivities.”

If you’re at all worried about whether a lash lift would work for you, do your research: Find a reputable technician and salon, and make sure you ask all the questions you want to be answered.

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