It’s a national obsession – on the catwalk, in the magazines, on the big screen. The desired look? Long, dense, fluttery eyelashes.And this year more than ever semi-permanent eyelash extensions are in as much demand as that LBD or must-have designer handbag. 

This new beautification process — glueing synthetic or animal hair extensions to natural lashes — has picked up steam in salons across the country, and everybody from Madonna to Jennifer Lopez has them. But are extensions worth the expense?

Addicted to Long Lashes

Ever since I was eighteen, I have been obsessed with false eyelashes. I was so captivated when I first succeeded at applying them that they were the only cosmetic item I would wear to school. Thankfully none of the teachers ever noticed, it was my little secret and they gave me a fantastic confidence boost. But sometimes using a set of falsies and an eyelash curler just isn’t enough.

As I entered my twenties, my obsession gathered steam. It started with a packet of Penneys eyelashes that I could reuse every day. Then it expanded to include countless boxes of individual lashes, different types of Duo glue, mascaras and expensive ‘human hair’ strip varieties. I needed my fix and I needed it regularly. But when discovered eyelash extensions , well, that’s when I became well and truly hooked.

Not all Salons are Created Equal

When I was younger and daunted by the pricey cost of this beauty treatment – it led me to the first, and worst, eyelash extension treatment of my life. In a hurry to get budget ‘holiday lashes’ done just twenty-four hours before a flight to sunny Barcelona, I went to the cheapest and nastiest place in North Dublin (which I shall not name).

The extensions cost €20 for a full set of two-week semi-permanent eyelash extensions, which I thought was an absolute bargain until the therapist begin to apply them with her long acrylic nails having not washed her hands. I asked for them to be natural as I wouldn’t be wearing makeup on the sweaty holiday. I came out looking like a Vegas showgirl.

Lesson Learned. Ever since, I’ve chosen the salon I go to with great care.

Get a Patch Test

The first step towards getting quality eyelash extensions is research. Make sure the salon you plan to go to does a patch test on you (yes, it can be an awful drag to go into the salon 24 hours prior the treatment ). But your eyes are your only eyes for life, so it’s important to make sure they don’t get damaged in the pursuit of beauty.

Cruelty-Free Lashes

It’s also important to do your research on the origin of the eyelashes that the salon will use. As someone who opts for cruelty-free products, it was a priority for me to make sure that the lashes were not made of real mink.

I contacted Elaine McPartland, owner and founder of the renowned Up To My Eyes salon in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. She told me that most salons in Ireland use the higher grade silk lashes which are called mink, simply because they’re shiny and soft and look like real mink but, thankfully, they’re not the real thing.

She assured me that Up To My Eyes have always used the higher quality lashes that create a beautiful, natural-looking effect.

The Treatment

I was delighted when Elaine invited me in to try their most popular treatment, a classic full set of mink lashes. The lashes are sported by many Irish celebrities including Rosanna Davison and they are also ideal for people who don’t want to wear makeup.

I was greeted by the lovely Deborah, a gorgeous and petite blonde with the most divine eyelashes I have ever seen. She brought me to the client treatment room, which consisted of six comfortable beds for the clients to lie on with a pink fluffy blanket covering them.

The treatment itself took about an hour, and the process was painstaking, involving a kind of precision that only an experienced therapist can attempt. Occasionally Deborah would talk me through her technique and the moments of the procedure, and her voice was so calm and soothing that I felt like I was in a meditation session.

Afterwards, she gave me an aftercare card, a mascara wand to comb my lashes and informative aftercare tips. I felt so well looked after by Deborah, Elaine and the whole team at Up To My Eyes that I understand why their clientele always come back for more.

The semi-permanent lashes, which cost €120.00 for a full application last up to two months. As I am writing this, it’s three weeks since I had my eyelash extensions and they are still as beautiful as they were the day they were first applied.

My conclusion? Do your research, choose your salon with care and make time to get a patch test. I love my can’t-believe-they’re-not-real extensions and would recommend this treatment to anybody who wants to enhance short or stubby lashes. Perfect!

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Photo Credit : False lash on pink background (alli 14//365) Flickr.