Did You Know You Could Perm Your Eyelashes?

Updated 11/24/19


In the pursuit of longer lashes, there's our trusty old friend mascara, there are falsies, and then there's the big beauty trend of the last few years: eyelash extensions. But did you know you could plain-old PERM your lashes? Like the old-school '80s perm that makes straight hair big and curly, an eyelash perm effectively curls straight lashes upward so they're pretty and lifted. In fact, most places actually call the procedure a "lift."

I actually first read about eyelash perming in this story, published on popular New York City–based blog A Cup of Jo, which profiles the beauty routines of real New York women. Screenwriter and author Gemma Burgess wrote this in her Beauty Uniform entry:

Eyelash perming [is my beauty guilty pleasure]. It sounds horrifically high-maintenance. But if I don’t curl my eyelashes, they point straight down. And when I curl them, they wait two minutes and then droop again.

So I started to get my eyelashes permed.

I KNOW. It sounds crazy. Don’t judge me. Or do judge me. I don’t mind. These days, I wake up and my eyelashes are like BOING awake. I recommend it so highly. It takes about one hour, once every two months. I like to think of it as being high-maintenance in order to be low-maintenance.

I could barely believe my eyes as I read this because I work in the beauty industry, and you just don't hear people talking about permsonly ever extensions. Turns out, eyelash perms rose to popularity in Japan about a decade ago (of course) and in the U.S. just a few years ago.

How It Works

So how do they work, you're wondering? A layer of adhesive is wrapped around small foam rollers or heated clips and then secured onto your upper lashes (basically like mini versions of the same hair rollers or clips used to curl hair). Then, a mild gel-type perm solution is applied to your lashes and sets for about five minutes or so. After the perming chemicals are in effect, an esthetician coats the lashes with a neutralizing solution. The whole process takes about 45 minutes to an hour and costs anywhere from $45 to $85 depending on where you go, which is definitely less than the cost of eyelash extensions. The effects of the perm keep lashes curled for up to three months. 

The process is not without risks, however, and eyelash perming is not currently FDA approved. The perming solution can burn, especially because the skin surrounding your eyes is so delicate and sensitive. Like with any beauty procedure, you want to seek out qualified professionals at reputable salons. Trusting someone to work with chemicals on your eyes should be about safety, not bargain shopping. But, as Burgess effused in her post, people who perm their lashes seem to love the results. 

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