As editor of Alexandria Stylebook, I work with all of our contributors to analyze trends in fashion, wellness, home, and beauty to interpret them in a way that’s meaningful and helpful here in Alexandria. Many of you know Sarah Akram Skincare, a Stylebook go-to expert, and when chatting earlier this week about one of the services Sarah and her team are famous for, lash extensions, (seriously, national-press-level famous), Sarah mentioned that she needed some before and after pictures.
Well, Stylebook readers, because I am willing to do about anything to help create meaningful, local lifestyle content, I volunteered. You know, to help you.
And while getting lash extensions hardly ranks as a high-risk workplace activity, I was actually a bit anxious. Not because I didn’t have faith in Sarah and aesthetician Gosia, who recently joined (I’ve seen their transformative work on many friends), or that I was worried I would look about as natural as a Kardashian (I have a high threshold for looking ridiculous) – no, I have irrational eye fear. Like, a big fear.
My biggest point of vanity is that I still have better than 20/20 vision. But a 44, let’s be honest, my days are numbered. I have literally dreaded this inevitability for decades because there is NO WAY ON EARTH I will ever ever ever be able to stick my finger in my eye on purpose to put in or remove contact lenses. Like, ever. And LASIK, well I may pass out thinking about it.
So, yeah, the idea of someone right in my eye? With glue and sharp objects? It was a lot for me.
The process, I was happily relieved and surprised to discover, was both relaxing and really interesting. Relaxing you’d expect at a skincare boutique that specializes in facials, because I just had to rest there all cozy under a blanket for an hour or so (and yes, I may have dozed off a smidge). But interesting, that I didn’t expect, but only because I had never really considered the thought and artistry that goes into lash extension design.
And yes, I use the word design intentionally. The image that kept popping into my (quasi-dream state) mind was of those artists that can paint a masterpiece on a head of a pin – Sarah and Gosia were extremely thoughtful about every single lash placement, then surgically precise in each application.
Prior to my appointment, I just figured they’d glue on a whole strip of connected lashes, like those ones you see at the drugstore with the super bulky nude glue tab along the bottom. Not even close. Not only is each extension affixed to a single lash (with black glue), great care and time is taken to select the strongest, straightest natural lash, as well as the best spot along your “eye frame.”
Eye frame was a new term for me. Turns out that lash lengths vary depending on where they are in the eye frame – inner corner, outer corner, center – and extensions must follow these rules so that they look natural. As Sarah and Gosia plotted each placement, I kept hearing, let’s do a 10 there, that one needs and 11, here in the corner let’s do an 8, referring to the variable lengths of lash extensions. Which, now that I think about it, makes perfect sense and is one of the reasons these extensions look so real.
Sarah and Gosia talk with each client about their lifestyle and their desired outcome, and design the extension application accordingly. I work from home and am in my kids’ schools often, so I didn’t get super aggressive (even though I totally wanted to). But, and here is my sole other point of vanity, I actually have really good natural lashes, so in order to give them some “oomph,” I went a little heavier than a typical full set. About 60 percent of my lashes were “enhanced;” a typical full set is about 40 percent, but some people prefer up to 90 percent.
Care is pretty logical. Beyond the first 48 hours, when you really should avoid all moisture to give the glue time to cure, simply treat them gently and avoid oil-y make-up removers. This means washing with a wash cloth around your eyes, not splashing water directly into your eyes or standing with your face directly in the shower spray. So, a minor adjustment for me there. Routine touchups every two to three weeks keep the extensions looking fresh and natural.
So, what’s my take? I adore them. I feel like I look more awake and, yes, younger. And it’s easier to get out the door in the morning and still feel pretty getting into bed at night. I don’t need mascara or eyeliner (but will still use it because I adore the color eyeliner trend), and I’ve gotten pretty lackadaisical about eye shadow. Concealer and brow filler, well those I will never give up.
Which reminds me! Brows! If I could have three desert island items, they’d be brow filler, concealer, and sunscreen. (Here’s hoping the island has a source of fresh water.) Seriously, though, I do not leave the house without at least two of those things (see: freckles to guess which one I slack on). Gosia did an amazing job contouring my brows, and, new to me: tinting! She applied a light brown tint and it made a world of difference. The deeper hue better frames my eyes, and provides a more appropriate balance to my new, more intense lashes. I still need my brow filler, but it will last much longer. I’m hooked.
Stylebook reader special! Book online with Gosia by May 31, 2016 using “styleB lashes” and get a full set of lashes starting at $185 (normally $325).