The Best (And Worst) Makeup for Eyelash Extensions

woman in abstract lighting with no make up look

Liliya Rodnikova / Stocksy

First, the good news: Your new eyelash extensions look amazing. Now, for the bad news: Half your eye-makeup collection needs to go. True, eyelash extensions can last for up to six weeks, but wearing the wrong makeup can lead to lashes falling out and extension damage, which can dramatically decrease the length of time your lash extensions look full and fabulous. To help you avoid this pitfall, we've consulted cosmetic dermatologist Ava Shamban and lash expert Clementina Richardson for their eyelash expertise. Here's what they had to say about the best (and worst) makeup to use on lash extensions.

Meet the Expert

  • Ava Shamban, MD, is a board certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. She is also co-host of The Gist and founder of Ava MD and Skin Five Clinics.
  • Clementina Richardson is a lash stylist with over 10 years of professional experience. She is also the founder of Envious Lashes whose client list includes A-listers like Mary J. Blige and Naomi Campbell, among others.
NO: pencil eyeliner

One weird consequence of having mile-long individual false lashes: Your eyelashes get tangled. And dragging a sticky pencil liner along the lash line, where eyelash extensions form their tenuous bonds, just worsens tangling and lash fallout. And, as anyone who's ever worn pencil liner knows, there's the lingering aftermath: Cream, gel, and charcoal paste eyeliners can leave a gummy residue on extensions, making removal an utter nightmare. You've been warned.

NO: waterproof liquid eyeliner

If it's not obvious by now, smudge-proof and budge-proof eye makeup is generally bad news for lash extensions. Shamban warns: "Avoid any [long term] thick layers of lining or liner product at the lash line of the lid so the area can breathe." This includes water-resistant or waterproof liquid liner. A liquid eyeliner may seem innocent enough (it's not creamy or gel-like), but its long-wearing capabilities will require rubbing or repeatedly touching your lashes to remove it, all of which will shorten the life span of your extensions.

NO: oil-based makeup remover

Keeping your eyelash extensions clean is key to making them last as long as possible. Oil-based makeup removers are best for removing stubborn eye makeup, but they also loosen the glue that bonds extensions to your lashes. Unfortunately, you're going to want to keep oil fully away from your eyes for as long as your extensions last. Shamban confirms: "Do not use any alcohol-based products or oil-based products, which will interfere with the adhesive while you are wearing extensions." Instead, she suggests, "Use micellar water or other non-oil based super gentle cleanser daily for the eyes and lash area and clean nightly." Richardson recommends her lash boutique's own Envious Lashes Gentle Oil Free Makeup Remover ($20).

Can You Wear Mascara with Eyelash Extensions?

According to Richardson, wearing mascara on eyelash extensions "jeopardizes the life of the extensions in addition to adding additional strain on the natural lashes." She adds, "When wearing lash extensions you should avoid touching them—this causes them to fall out. In addition to the weight on the natural lashes, the removal of the mascara involves pulling and rubbing that cause damage and shedding of both the natural lashes and extensions. I find those who apply mascara over their extensions always return with 25% or less [lashes]. While those who follow the rules return with 60-80% within a two week period." Shamban agrees: "I would also suggest forgoing all mascara in lieu of extensions."

Stay far away from oil-based mascaras since you will have to use an oil-based remover. Oil-based products will result in losing your lash extensions within one to three days.

For those clients who are looking for fuller lashes in between appointments, Richardson offers a couple of options available at her salon: "Clients that ask if they can apply mascara over their extensions are told that they should upgrade their sets. Another option would be to get a volume lash application which creates three to six times the volume."

The Final Takeaway

Richardson concludes that when wearing falsies, "Products around the eyes must be oil-free and easy to remove" (oil breaks down the glue bond, after all). Shamban recommends, "items from Burt's Bees or Physicians Formula which are top hypoallergenic drugstore brands."

If your natural lashes are not dense enough to achieve your desired volume, consider trying a lash conditioning growth serum instead of mascara. A serum can be used with or without lash extensions.

She adds, "For anything pertaining to the eyes, cleanliness and safety is of paramount importance. Trends may look good but never at the expense of your health or safety. First and foremost, your hands need to be fully and properly washed at all times before touching your eyes or washing your face. And of course, any time you are sick, are experiencing any preexisting eye condition, allergy, infection, or issue forgo anything in or near your eyes until you are well. And as always, if you develop any negative reaction to any eye or eyelash product discontinue usage immediately and see a board certified dermatologist or ophthalmologist for immediate attention."

Almay Makeup-free Zone remover pads
Almay Gentle Oil Free Makeup-Free Zone Eye Makeup Remover Pads $7
Envious Lashes eyeliner
Envious Lashes Retractable Infinite Ink Eyeliner $19
Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eyeshadow
Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner $25
Physicians Formula Eye Primer Duo
Physicians Formula Eye Primer Duo - Matte & Shimmer $8
Envious Lashes conditioning serum
Envious Lashes Luxuriating Lash Conditioning Serum $49
Burt's Bees micellar cleansing water
Burt's Bees Micellar Water $10


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