When it comes to my lashes, I’m a more-is-more kinda gal. I hoard all of the volumizing mascara, clip on the falsies for extra drama on weekends, and have been known to get a lash tint once in a blue. That’s all to say that it’s pretty shocking that I’ve yet to experience the most lash-lengthening treatment out there: eyelash extensions.
If you’re not familiar, getting lash extensions involves attaching faux fringe to your actual lashes via an adhesive glue. They last up to six weeks and look pretty freakin’ fabulous—even nixing the need for mascara—but there’s one thing you should never, ever do once you get them: Remove them yourself (and that even holds now that many of us are mandated to stay home and are doing our own beauty upkeep). Keep on scrolling for all the intel you need on how to remove eyelash extension the right way to protect your lash line.
Ok, so can you remove them at home?
DIY-ing your own lash extension removal poses the huge unwanted risk of messing with your natural lashes, and all the lash pros advise strongly against it. Obviously, given that many of us are currently in an until-further-notice stay at home mode, the best bet is to let your lashes grow and the extensions to fall out naturally (sorry!). “If you do it at home, you’ll likely pluck your own lashes, which is not only painful but can also cause lash loss and damage,” says Courtney Buhler, Sugarlash Pro founder and CEO.
Besides wrecking your lashes, attempting to remove falsies with olive oil, coconut oil, or any other YouTube DIY will likely not end well. In truth there’s not really an over-the-counter product that’ll properly get the job done. “There is no over-the-counter or oil-based product that can safely remove professional lash extensions,” says lash expert Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes, pointing out that removing them yourself can pull out your actual lashes since the extensions are attached strand by strand. “It can lead to bald spots that may never grow back.”
And for the love of all things holy, while you might think that trimming back the extension is a good idea, to you know, make it look more natural, pros says it’s not—plain and simple. The lash extensions taper to look fluttery at the ends, and if you cut them, the blunt edge will look a little…off. Plus you might trim your actual lash in the process, which is far from ideal.
OMG, then what’s the best way to remove lash extensions?
Plain and simple? Go to the pros. “A professional will use a lash remover to soften the hard bonds from the adhesive so that the extensions slide off,” says Buhler. It doesn’t hurt a bit and is actually much quicker than getting the lash extensions put on in the first place. According to Richardson, clients lie comfortably with their eyes closed during the entire process, which clocks in at roughly 15 to 20 minutes.
Of course, that’s only if it’s a by-the-book application. “I’ve seen removals take an hour for those who’ve had them applied improperly, which happens when excessive amounts of adhesive have been applied,” she says. Yipes, that’s a good enough reason as any to make sure your lash salon is reputable in the first place.
And TBH, that goes for the removal process as well. If you’re having your lashes removed, Buhler highly suggests confirming that your technician plans to use a cream or gel remover. “Liquid removers can run and irritate the eye more easily,” she says. “Also, using tweezers to manually remove all lashes is not advised since it can cause a bit of a kink when manually removed. A removal cream is less stressful to the lash.” Oh, and make sure one ingredient is absent from the formula: “Stay away from places that use acetone—that’s a major red flag,” says Richardson.
How do eyelash extensions affect your natural lash line?
One of the main reasons I haven’t gotten lash extensions yet, though, is because I’ve always been kinda afraid of what happens to your eyelashes afterwards. But that fear isn’t actually true. “If proper lengths and thicknesses are used, extensions don’t affect natural lashes at all,” Buhler assures me. And nothing bad will happen to your lashes upon removal if the application itself was fine, adds Richardson. “It’s not the treatment itself, but the application,” she says.
If you choose to not get your extensions removed, they actually fall or shed on their own. “The normal shedding process is the natural lashes grow to maturity and the lash extension sheds with it during the normal shedding process,” says Richardson.
To keep those lashes healthy post-removal—just to, ya know, be sure they stay in tip-top shape—both Buhler and Richardson recommend using a lash conditioner. “A conditioner is always a great idea for lashes to keep them healthy and strong, though there’s nothing that absolutely needs to be done after the extensions are removed,” says Buhler. “Your lashes should look the same as they did before the treatment. If there was any damage caused by improper lash extension application, then a growth serum is ideal.” Just remember: When it comes to taking off your lashes, DIY is a DI-don’t.
This post has been updated from its original version, published on July 18, 2019.
Here are some editor-approved drugstore lash serums to buy that’ll help. But also: This is what to know about when eyelash extensions can make your eyelashes fall out.