This might sound funny, but I just started the eyelash workout! Yes, I am working out my eyelashes by wearing eyelash extensions!
Even though I’m grateful for both my health and my age, it can get kind of frustrating that all the places where I wish I wasn’t getting thinner (like my hair and lashes) while all the places I work at like my waist and thighs seem to be getting a little thicker with every birthday. But who cares? You can’t let it get you down right?! It’s all motivation. Delicious meals fuel me to go to the gym. I savor restorative beauty treatments as my reward for working hard and living a long life.
My philosophy: “Treat what you can with exercise and nutrition, and buy what you can’t fix naturally at the beautician.” My lashes are long and full, but individually, each of my lashes is very fine and doesn’t give me the “I woke up like this” allure I’ve been used to all my life.
Enter Francisco Catedral – “The Eyelash Trainer.” Francisco, with nine years of experience under his belt, is a master eyelash and eyebrow extension artist. He works out of his own studio, tucked away in New York City’s garment district, that’s one of those fashion insider finds that only real New Yorkers know about. You’ll be lucky to catch Francisco at his studio where he permits only one client at a time because he travels the globe for celebrity bookings as well as conducting master classes training other artists for the JB Lashes artistic team.
Francisco is soft spoken and highly observant. He has both an air of authority and an unassuming manner about him, kind of like Mr. Carson, my favorite character on Downton Abbey. I poured out the story of my eyelash odyssey to Francisco. As he listened intently, he began to see what my vision was for the shape of my lashes. Based on what I was telling him, he began to select lashes from a tray laid with myriad rows individual lashes in a large varieties of curl patterns, colors and textures. Francisco saw to it that we struck a balance with the lashes that would fit with not only my aesthetic, but also my lifestyle.
I’ve been looking for a solution for thicker longer lashes. I first tried eyelash extensions in Paris 15 years ago, when eyelash extensions first became a thing. The lashes I got back then were gorgeous, but they were stiff, heavy, and impractical during my marathon training workouts. I quickly gave up on those lash extensions after enduring days of irritation. Then I moved on to the eyelash growth formulas like Latisse, which work wonders, but requires a doctor’s visit and prescription. I found the formulations darkened the skin on my eyelids. So, I quit using it.
I moved on with success using other liquid brush-on formulas like Rivtalash and Peter Thomas Roth and have been happy with the results on the length I get on my lashes from applying the serums morning and night, but not as happy with the resulting thickness of individual lash. It’s different for everyone, but with my fine hair texture the oomph I want requires a strip lash or TON of mascara. I want to wake up with big doe eyed lashes that don’t require both mascara and eyeliner for the effect. Eyelash extensions are a huge time saver for me because I can run out of the house looking polished without having to work hard.
Francisco works exclusively with the JB Lash brand (#wemakelashgoalshappen) because the synthetic fibers used in the most affordable type of JB lashes are soft and light and maintain both their shape and body like human hair.
Step One: Get the Look
Most people have between 125 to 240 natural lashes depending on the length of their eyelid and thickness of their hair. There are many different lash shapes from basic banana shaped individual lashes, which I prefer, to “fan” shaped individual lashes with five lashes stemming from a single root, which when applied open up like a fan adding five times the volume to each individual lash.
Fan configurations are the most dramatic lashes and work for the woman who wants a smoldering seductive look 24/7, rocks a fresh blowout on the daily, trots around in five inch heels and head to toe designer clothes just to get the mail. (Love that girl but I’m not her – at least, not yet anyway). But no matter who you are and no matter what look you’re going for do not get extensions more than fifty percent longer than your natural lashes. Depending on where lashes are placed you can create the illusion of longer or a rounder eye shape. If you venture out there beyond the fifty percent ratio you’re wandering into insane clown territory.
Once Francisco and I decided on my lash look, I wanted something very full and believable, with just a touch of drama at the center of my eye to give a more open and lifted appearance to the lids and brow bone, we got started.
Step Two: PREP
The eye area is triple cleansed from the eyebrow down to the cheek bone with a mild solution.
Moisturizing gel patches are placed under the eyes for a soothing anti-inflammatory treatment for bags and fine lines and stay in place during the 60-90 minutes the initial application requires.
For safety, Francisco taped my eyelids shut with a slender strip of surgical tape positioned from my brow bone to lash line.
If you are claustrophobic eyelash extensions are not for you. I had to sign a waiver stating that I did not suffer from the condition or any other eye ailment, and attest to the fact that I felt confident that I could hold still during the procedure. Sudden or excessive movement could result in serious eye injury as each lash is attached to each individual lash on your eye with the very fine pair of tweezers. Your technician uses a pair of medical magnifying glasses for precision. I felt comfortable with it because Francisco came recommended through my makeup artist, Marc Cornwall, and after having worked as a model for thirty years I’m a veteran at suffering for beauty. Contrary to how this might sound, it’s also relaxing. Why? Because you have no other choice but to go with it. I even drifted off into a rare moment of deep sleep after about twenty minutes.
The final step for prep is the lash map. As you can see in the photo below, the numbers written along the half moon shaped cloth pads placed under my eyes the letters signify the degree of curliness and the length of each of the lashes being applied.
Step Three: Application
The most important factor for a natural looking lash line is that every individual false lash be attached precisely at the root of every single natural lash. It’s painstaking and careful work, but the results are so worth it. Attaching two false lashes per every single natural lash looks clumsy and fake and it’s a waste of time unless you don’t care if someone would ask you if you’re wearing falsies every time you close your eyes.
The adhesive that’s used to apply your lashes is equally important. Your aesthetician must use a glue that is specifically formulated for the eye. Never ever use hair bonding glue on around the eye area. From the packaging of hair bonding glue, which allows for much more exposure to the air than a product formulated for use on the eye would permit, to the ingredients in hair glues which can be very harsh and can sometimes contain formaldehyde, it is clear that those types of bonding glues are meant exclusively for the scalp. These kinds of glues can easily result in infection or even possibly nerve damage to the delicate eye area, so girls beware.
After all of the lashes are applied a five minute drying period is necessary. Francisco used a gentle hand held fan to speed up the drying process. From the moment I open my eyes I felt totally comfortable with the feel of the lash extensions on my eyelids, it’s really imperceptible and best of all I fell in love with the way my lashes looked. Having eyelash extensions made my hair extensions and wigs less detectable because there wasn’t such a drastic difference between the quality and thickness of the hair on my head and eyelids.
Step Four: The Workout
Let the lash blast begin! Having lash extensions forces your lashes to grow out longer and thicker in order to complete their natural shedding process. We naturally lose between three and five lashes every day, depending on your rate of shedding and regrowth. This process can gradually diminish the fullness of your lashes, making it time for a touch up. I spruce up my lashes with extensions once every three weeks. Caring for eyelash extensions is simple. Everything you’ll need comes in the JB lashes take home kit included with your service. My new set of lashes needed to be brushed out with a spoolie brush morning and evening to keep them free of dust and debris.
Francisco told me in order not to break my lashes off to splash water on my face, and to avoid putting my face directly into the oncoming stream of water from the shower head. Long hot baths can also reduce the integrity of the lash glue, but a long hard sweaty workout with a headband wouldn’t affect staying power of the lashes in the same way. Score! My lashes held up beautifully for two weeks straight through swimming, biking and three different fashion shoots.
Note that oil free make-up remover is a must and if you want to extend the life of your lashes – don’t use mascara – not that you’ll need mascara anyway! The final step in after-care for you lashes is using an oil free growth serum called Lashfood which is included in the take home kit from JB Lashes as well.
The cost? About $150.00 for full set of synthetic lashes form a master like Francisco Cathedral. If you want mink or fox hair lashes, which are harvested when the animal naturally sheds it hairs, can run you up to $550.00 for a full set. Touch-ups are typically half of the price of a full set. Book your appointment with Francisco about two weeks in advance. If you want to take a master class and become certified in his technique or find a JB Lash artist in your area here’s the link.
It’s been a month for me and so far so good. And thanks to my eyelash extension workout my lashes are looking lovely and luscious. I think, just like with any workout, between the serum and lifting the weight of the added lashes, that my own lashes seem to be growing stronger!
Drop me a note and let me know what insider beauty secrets you want me to hunt down and unveil on my lifelong pursuit of deep beauty.
story x @veronicawebb