The good news about your eyelash extensions is that they look amazing. 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 with them can lead to lash fallout and extension damage, dramatically decreasing the length of time your lash extensions look full and fabulous.
Extensions are sensitive. When you're glamming up your face, you must be cognizant of your falsies or else. Not sure which makeup to keep using and which to avoid? Don't worry—we've got you covered. We spoke to the experts for their advice on preserving the life of your extensions, including what to wear and what not to wear when it comes to makeup.
Meet the Expert
- Ava Shamban, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. She is also the 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.
- Denika Bedrossian is a celebrity makeup artist, well-known for her intricate liquid eyeliner and defined cat-eye.
Keep reading for more on how to maximize the wear of your extensions.
Can You Wear Mascara with Lash Extensions?
Fact: You can wear eye makeup, including mascara without destroying your lashes. Just avoid tubing formulas (aka the kind that slips off in water) as it can pull off natural lashes with a little moisture and light pressure, but this formula sticks like glue to falsies. You'll be able to get it off, but not without losing a few (pricey, hard-earned) lashes. If you choose to wear mascara, opt for a weightless formula like Tarte's Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara ($24). It's a vegan, antioxidant-rich mascara made of Amazonian clay that won't damage your lashes.
However, according to Richardson, wearing mascara on eyelash extensions "jeopardizes the life of the extensions in addition to putting 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 percent or less [lashes]."
While those who follow the rules return with 60-80 percent within a two-week period, Shamban agrees with "forgoing all mascara in lieu of extensions."
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.
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," she says.
Can You Use Eyeliner with Lash Extensions?
One weird consequence of having mile-long individual false lashes: They 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 there's the aftermath: Cream and gel eyeliners can leave a gummy residue on extensions, making removal an utter nuisance. You'll also want to avoid smudge-proof and budge-proof eye makeup, which 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 formula will require rubbing or repeatedly touching your lashes to remove it. All of which will shorten your extensions' lifespan.
Powder liner has been a beauty crutch for many over the years, and with good reason. With many formulas delivering exponentially on color payoffs that don't fade and an easy-to-apply method that's hard to muck up, this highly pigmented option guarantees your eyes have the dramatic look without the fuss. For the newbie (or veteran), stick to a fade-free formula like Laura Mercier Tightline Cake Eye Liner ($25) and use a flat angled brush to glide powder liner smoothly along your lashline.
"Regardless of which liner product you choose, be mindful when removing eyeliner since it’s so close to the lash line," says Bedrossian.
How to Apply Eyeshadow with Lash Extensions
"Apply shadows just like normal, but be aware of shadow droppings on top of the lashes," cautions Bedrossian. "You’ll want to dust off any excess that flies down." If you are unsure of using powder shadows, opt for a cream eyeshadow that can be applied with your fingers.
How to Safely Remove Makeup with Lash Extensions
Oil-based makeup removers are best for removing stubborn eye makeup, but they also loosen the glue that bonds extensions to your lashes, so avoid oil-based cleansers and makeup at all costs to preserve the life of your lashes. 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." A popular derm pick, Neutrogena's Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover ($9) is a favorite, and we like Almay Oil-Free Gentle Eye Makeup Remover Pads ($12), which are made with a soothing plant-based blend of aloe vera, cucumber, and green tea. Whatever you choose, be careful and gentle when removing your makeup, especially around your lash area.
Keep Your Lashes Clean
Keeping your eyelash extensions clean is key to making them last as long as possible. 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," says Shamban. "First and foremost, your hands need to be fully and properly washed at all times before touching your eyes or washing your face. 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."
Once your lashes are dry, gently brush them with a clean spoolie to detangle any stray lashes that may have gotten twisted during your cleansing.
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). Oil-based products will result in losing your lash extensions within one to three days.