Eyelash extensions can instantly transform your entire look, giving you a zero-effort glam that lasts for weeks without the need to apply mascara or false eyelashes on a daily basis. Fast-forward about a month later, though, and those fluttering lashes may not look as polished as they did when you initially stepped out of the salon. In fact, as your eyelash extensions start falling out, you’ll probably be left with a few stubborn stragglers. Now, what do you do?
Here’s where you decide if you want to head back to the salon for a fill, or if you want to take a break and give your natural lashes a rest. The safest choice will always be to see a lash tech for eyelash extension removal. But if you can’t get there right now, we’re here to help. Read on for expert-approved eyelash extension removal tips that will help you get rid of those last few false lashes without damaging your natural ones.
About the Experts:
Now that you’ve figured out how to cut your own hair and you've mastered the art of the DIY pedicure, you might be feeling brave enough to tackle the eyelash removal process on your own. But removing eyelash extensions instantly is best left to the pros, as it involves stripping away professional-grade lash glue. Not only do you need the tools a lash expert uses, but home removal could easily result in contaminating the eye area with bacteria that may lead to an infection. Eek!
“For the safety of your eyes and the health of your natural lashes, you should always wait for an expert to remove your eyelash extensions,” says Andra Ciulei Marin, an eyelash extension stylist and the artistic director at Courtney Akai Lash Boutique in NYC. Michelle Nguyen, eyelash expert and founder of PLA. , agrees.
“Eyelash extensions are applied with cyanoacrylate-based adhesive that doesn't break down easily,” she explains. “People have tried steam, oil, and gentle rubbing, all of which can loosen the extensions a bit, but there's no guarantee that it won't cause damage.” She promises a salon appointment with a lash tech only takes about 15 minutes and shouldn’t be costly.
If there are just a few stragglers left, you might be desperate to take out the tweezers. But don’t. “Picking at your lashes would be the worst possible thing you can do,” says Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes in NYC. “This will result in bald spots throughout the lash line. The extensions are attached to the natural lashes, therefore picking on the extensions will take the natural lashes along with them.”
The good news? Although you can’t perform a professional-style removal in the comfort of your own home, there are steps you can take and products you can use that can help speed up the removal process—just don’t be surprised if it takes a few days or even a little longer for them to eventually all come off. Patience is key here.
When it comes to removing eyelash extensions, most of the “don’ts” your lash technician shared with you after your application are now encouraged. That includes using an oil-based eye makeup remover, taking a steamy shower, and using a slippery oil like castor oil.
“Two known enemies of lash adhesives are heat and moisture,” Marin says. “Alone, and especially together, these elements can dissolve cyanoacrylate [the lash adhesive] when applied in large enough and intense enough quantities.”
When you're on the hunt for an eye makeup remover, Marin suggests looking specifically for formulas that feature glycols. She explains: "Glycols are used in cosmetics as solvents and have been shown to dissolve adhesive bonds.” By loading up a cotton pad with an oil-based cleanser and applying it to your lashes daily, you will ultimately weaken the bonds of the eyelash glue so that they'll detach on their own.
While hitting the showers (or even a steam room) might not be as effective as it would be when the lash adhesive is still setting, a long, steamy shower can help loosen the eyelash extension glue. You can even just steam your face to loosen the lash glue—no fancy steamer needed. Just boil water and pour it into a bowl. Then, place your face above the steaming water with your eyes closed.
Just like using an oil-based cleanser, you shouldn’t expect to see all of your lashes fall off after one hot shower or steam. “If a good quality adhesive is used, it will take a lot of steam and hot water to affect the lifespan of the eyelash extensions,” says Marin. It’s important to be patient here for the health of your lashes.
If you’re desperate to get your lashes off, you can use castor oil or baby oil as a nightly treatment to dissolve the bonds while you sleep. “Oils that have been shown to weaken extension adhesives are mineral oil, vegetable oil, coconut oil, canola oil, and castor oil,” Marin tells us.
After you remove all your eye makeup, coat a spoolie, cotton swab, or Q-tip in castor oil (Los Angeles–based makeup artist Ashley Gomila prefers coconut oil) and brush it on your lashes during your evening skincare routine. “Rub the swab or spoolie along the top of your lash line where the extensions are bonded, taking great care to not allow any of the oil into your eye,” Marin explains. If oil does enter the eye, be sure to flush it out immediately with water. An added bonus: castor oil may even help to promote longer natural eyelashes.
You can apply a professional glue-dissolving remover to the lash extensions, but you have to be especially careful not to get any of the solution in your eyes. This might be the time to get a friend to help so you can keep your eyes shut tight.
Even if you’ve tried the above tips and are still stuck with one random lash, resist the urge to reach for the tweezers, because you could wind up leaving your natural lashes severely damaged, especially if the natural lashes you pull are in the early stages of growth.
“Do not pull lashes out, cut them off, or use a hot compress,” Gomila says. “Keep the lashes clean and limit rubbing or anything else that could irritate them.” Not only can pulling and picking leave you with sparse lashes, but repeatedly doing so could be extremely detrimental. “Constantly pulling off your eyelashes could result in extreme follicle damage, which could result in irreversible damage,” Marin adds.
1. Apply an oil-based makeup remover or oil-based cleanser to a cotton ball.
2. Massage the cotton ball gently to loosen the lash glue.
3. Wait a few minutes as the oil loosens the glue.
4. Using the Tweezers, gently pull on the lash extensions at a 45-degree angle. Don’t tug!
5. If there’s any resistance, apply more oil.
6. If there’s still resistance, see a lash tech. The glue might be oil resistant. Again, no tugging!
Eyelash extensions typically need to be removed after two or three weeks after their application. This time period is generally how long a growth cycle for natural eyelashes is. By this time, it’s natural to see your extensions grown out and you might have even noticed a few have fallen out.
Instead of picking or pulling, you might try to conceal the remaining lash extensions with lengthening mascara and eyeliner.
“Using a good black liner on your upper lid will mask those stragglers right up,” Marin says. Not only can mascara help blend stubborn extensions that seem to be holding on for dear life, but using mascara on a daily basis can also help weaken the adhesive keeping the extensions attached to your actual lashes. It’s basically a two-for-one.
“My tip would be to put mascara on every day,” Marin continues. “Most mascaras are loaded with waxes and oils so [any remaining extensions] should come right off after about a week of using it.” To really speed up the process, you might try using a mascara like drugstore favorite NEUTROGENA Healthy Volume Mascara during the day. This formula is loaded with both olive oil and sweet almond oil. Then remove the mascara at night by loading up a cotton ball with an oil-based makeup remover. This is one time when two major lash extension wrongs make a right.
“I would recommend going to the lash tech that applied the lashes for the easiest and safest way of removal. Not all lash bonding agents are the same and could cause permanent damage,” Gomila explains. “In addition to possible damage, it would take trial and error to remove them at home.”
Nguyen agrees. “I commonly see people trying to rub them off, gently picking at the base of their extensions to ‘peel them off’ and this will always result in some damage to natural lashes,” she says. “Just like professional hair extensions, yes you can take them off yourself, but not without some level of damage.”
Trying to take your eyelashes out too prematurely can cause damage and breakage your natural lashes. It’s important to note the at-home methods above only aid in removal once your extensions are already falling out.
And once they have, you still need to be gentle to your natural eyelashes—especially when applying or removing makeup. “Try not to put too much pressure on the lashes or eye area and avoid vigorously rubbing,” Marin says. Instead, nourish and strengthen those delicate hairs with an eyelash conditioner or lash serum to help them grow long and super strong.
Although there is no miracle at-home lash extension removal, these expert tips can help you know how to help those fake lashes fall out faster on their own while also keeping your natural lashes protected and healthy.
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