What Is a Lash Lift?

When M.A.C launched their Up for Everything Mascara in 2019, which is specifically designed for stick straight lashes that refuse to stay curled, I finally felt seen. My somewhat dark (bless) lashes are unable to stay crimped unless I lacquer them with coats and coats of waterproof mascara—which isn’t the most “natural” beauty look and takes at least 3 minutes to fully remove at the end of the night.

I’m not a fan of lash extensions because of the upkeep—but, man, do they look good. Extensions add volume, curl, and length without the fuss of having to glue on and self apply a strip of falsies. But, in my personal experience, they can come at a price. Not only can they cost upwards of $200 on a set, but I’ve found my natural lashes suffer sometimes. When I’ve tried extensions, my lashes were left thin, brittle, and even shorter than before. On top of that, it’s tiring to have to be extra conscious not to rub my eyes, sleep on my side, use a sleeping mask, use mascara, be extra careful when removing my contacts, or a number of other no-nos.

If all of this is sounding too familiar, you don’t have to accept defeat and a lifetime of sad, straight lashes. Let me introduce you to my favorite instant beauty hack: the lash lift. It’s the best of both worlds: your natural lashes get a semi-permanent lift and curl (just like they would with extensions!) without the damage sometimes caused by extensions.

It’s been three weeks since my lash lift and I cannot believe the results. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep, my lashes always look curled. I’m not the only one that’s obsessed—women on both the East and West coasts are flocking to get lash lifts, too. East coast expert Josh Beeler of Brooklyn-based Shen Beauty and West Coast lash entrepreneur Dionne Phillips, founder of D’Lashes, break down everything you need to know about getting a lash lift.

A lash lift is like a perm for your lashes.

Like old-school perms from the ’80s, a lash lift sets the shape of your natural lashes using a chemical solution. “It realigns the hair structure and confirms it to the shape of the bumper or rod that’s being used,” Beeler says. “I use a solution to restructure the hair and then neutralize it into place.”

There is no preparation necessary.

You’ll arrive at your appointment with clean skin and eyes free of makeup. If you really want to go for super long lashes, you could use a lash serum like GrandeLash for about a month pre-treatment for the best results.”

How will you look after?

“A lash lift can change the look of your eyes to appear wider, more open and lashes curled to your desired curl pattern,” Phillips says. “It frames your face and eyes giving you a youthful, as I call it ‘smiling eyes’ appearance.” Typically these results will last 4 to 5 weeks.

You can customize your results.

The first step during a session is to consult with your lash artist, who will ask you questions about your goals and style (for example, whether or not you wear mascara everyday, like lashes high upwards to your eyebrows or more fanned out, etc.) Based on your answers, your technician will pick a curl size for your eye shape.

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Your lashes are glued down to a silicone shield.

After cleansing the lashes and separating your bottom lashes from your top, a silicone shield gets stuck on the skin using a gentle adhesive (similar to the glue used to apply false lashes). Adhesive is applied on top of the shield as well, then lashes are combed up to take their shape. Here is where eye-safe perming solution is applied.

“The lash professional uses a chemical lash lift compound to break down the bond of the eyelash follicle, making it curl, Phillips says. “It takes approximately 5 to 6 minutes, depending on the brand of the lash lift. Then, after that solution is completed, a second solution is applied for the same amount of time, with a lash comb or special lash lift tool to give the desired look.”

You’ll sit for the entire process with your eyes closed—which feels a little bit daunting. Try putting on podcast to help you chill.

The whole process takes about an hour from start to finish.

Here is my impressive before and after:

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The whole process takes about an hour from start to finish.

Here is my impressive before and after:

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Lash lifts cost $75 – $100 per session.

Of course, it depends on where you go for the service but, across the board, I’ve found lash lifts are more affordable than extensions. But you should always make sure you’re getting the treatment with an experienced licensed professional.

What’s the difference between lash lifts and extensions?

“If you are wanting something more natural, you want a lash lift, because we are working with the lashes you have and just enhancing them,” Beeler says. “Lash extensions tend to look more fake, which is great if that’s the look you’re hoping to achieve.”

You can wear mascara.

Because it’s just your natural lashes being curled, you’re free to use whatever eye makeup you wish. You just have to wait 24 hours. This is what my lashes look like two days after getting a lift with mascara (Benefit’s magical new Badgal Bang).

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Impressive!

You can also opt for a lash tint.

I also opted to get a lash tint while I was in Beeler’s chair—might as well make my mornings as easy as possible! You’ll get the lift first, then the tint.

The first 24 hours after a lash lift are crucial.

On top of not wearing mascara, you should avoid wetting them, steam, and all forms of moisture and humidity, and wearing eye makeup to make the curl last.

Lash lifts are gloriously low maintenance.

While lash extensions require you to be extra careful while doing anything—washing your face, sleeping a certain way, applying makeup—you don’t have to take those precautions when you have a lash lift. I wake up, *sometimes* add mascara, and I’m good to go. Upkeep includes conditioning the lashes nightly. Try coconut oil or face oil— since your lashes have been processed so just keeping them conditioned and nourished is important.

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Expect a lot of compliments.

I’ve gotten compliments on my lashes during a Zoom call and at a masked meetup—and I’ve literally done nothing different aside from my recent lash lift—so it definitely makes a big difference.

Having always-curled lashes means your beauty routine is about a thousand times more low maintenance while looking a whole lot more glamorous.

Beauty Director
Kristina Rodulfo is the Beauty Director of Women’s Health—she oversees beauty coverage across print and digital and is an expert in product testing, identifying trends, and exploring the intersections of beauty, wellness, and culture.

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