Apparently my eyelashes like to be tangled. Who knew. I find out this intriguing tidbit lying with my eyes closed in Glow American Salon, around hour two of the application process of my new set of lash extensions.
I’d never considered the possibility of adding extensions to my eyelashes before. Occasionally, I’d glued on falsies and batted my way out for the evening, but semi-permanent fakes? Only, apparently, these aren’t your average lashes: applied individually one lash at a time, they’re not glued on in a strip like other fake lashes. Instead, each is applied individually to your existing lashes, making them thicker and much longer.
Long, luxurious eyelashes have long been seen as an indication of femininity: Cleopatra lengthened her eyes with liner, Marilyn Monroe batted her low-lidded falsies, and even Lady Gaga has been known to get into the act, although her’s are often glittery. Cosmetics have been used to darken, and thus give the illusion of length, to lashes since ancient Egypt, Babylon and Rome. Although a fairly recent addition to the glam pantheon, celebrities have embraced eyelash extensions as a way to get longer lashes without having to apply a strip each time they leave the house. Glow’s recently launched the Novalash line, an American line of lashes that claim to stay on your eyes for over a month.
I’m slightly apprehensive upon arrival at the salon however. I’ve never stuck anything to my face like this, and as a habitual contact lens and glasses wearer, I’m concerned: will these flap in my face and drive me crazy? Will they pull all my natural lashes out? Will I look like a Cupie doll?
Upon arrival my technician Matilda explains the process, and shows me her pots of lashes. Each look like a jar of varying-length and very leggy spiders, clumps of individual lashes ranging from baby lashes to long and fluttery. She tells me she’ll only apply what my natural lashes can support, and, after consulting with me about the look I hope to achieve (dramatic without making it impossible to go to the gym without looking like an extra from Jersey Shore), she sets to work. The entire process takes almost two and a half hours, and she says it’s totally normal for clients to fall asleep. Thankfully, it’s relatively painless: after the rather weird, new sensation of having my lower lashes taped to my cheeks to keep them from getting stuck to the adhesive, I drift off and let her do her thing.
Once I wake up, she’s cooing about how nice these are looking, before asking me to open my eyes. Slowly I pry them apart, and she spends a few minutes making sure the lashes aren’t tangled or stuck to weird bits of skin. Then—the mirror. Success! She’s applied them mainly to the outer corners, achieving that retro cat’s eye look I was going for, so my eyes look made-up without looking false. They’re not heavy, and they don’t even bump against the top of my glasses.
The rest of the day, I can’t help touching them. I’ve been told not to get them wet for the first 24 hours, and to try not to pull or tug at them, but I can’t help stroking them, like an evil genius stroking a cat. It’s a weird sensation, a bit like the first time you wear contact lenses: you know something is there, just on the edge of your understanding.
For the first few days, I’m getting used to them, and it feels like I’m slowly wearing down excess glue. At first one eye feels like the lashes are stuck to my face, but after a bit of gentle pulling that goes away. Next, it’s multiple brushings trying to train them to curl upwards and not stick to the edge of my lid, or to stop the ends digging into my lash line. Showering and washing my face is the worst: no longer can I attack my face with scrubbing glee like I’m used to, and the water weighs down the lashes blinding me and making me stumble into my shampoo. A bit of Doha-dust in the eye is a struggle as I can’t just rub my eye with abandon anymore.
Still, a week after getting them applied I can skip mascara entirely and people comment that my eyes look bigger, or something just looks ‘different’. It’s not obvious that I’m wearing extensions, but it’s obvious something about my face has changed. Over time, they slowly start to fall out: no, they don’t rip out your natural lashes, instead falling out when the lash they are attached to naturally sheds. This process can look a bit like molting though, as longer lashes give way to my natural, short ones, which is probably why the salon recommends you come in for a refill every month to retouch them.
Would I do this again? Maybe. They do have glittery ones in additional to the natural black, after all.
Novalash is available at Glow American Salon, QR500 for the initial application, QR250 for fill ins. For more information see www.glowamericansalon.com