In case you hadn’t noticed, eyelash extensions are everywhere. From Kim Kardashian’s fabulous fakes to the diva next door’s full fringe, these glam beauty enhancements have gone mainstream. How can nail techs take advantage of this growing trend to build business and keep clients happy? First, you need to know the basics.
Eyelash Extensions 101
Laws vary from state to state regarding licensing, but most require some sort of professional beauty or medical license to perform eyelash extension application. “In some states, you must have a cosmetology or esthetician license to provide eyelash extension services,” says Lauren Snow, director of membership for Associated Skin Care Professionals. “In other states, there is no licensing requirement whatsoever to apply lash extensions, so it’s important to check your state board’s requirements. To date, the only state that has a separate license for eyelash extensions is Texas, so even if you’re unable to provide lash extensions as a nail tech, you can get your license for this separately.”
Most eyelash extension manufacturers also require a license to qualify for their training, and many manufacturers offer trainings, certifications, and discounts on their products when you complete their course and purchase a kit. Some schools also offer an advanced education course (1-2 days) for eyelash extension training.
Aside from obtaining any necessary basic licenses, it’s also important to consider start-up costs for offering eyelash extension services to clients. Expenses may include a bed or reclining chair for the client, good lighting, the products for application (lashes, adhesive, adhesive remover makeup remover, lash cleaner, brushes, implements, and eye pads), consent/intake forms, and marketing collateral.
You may be wondering what it’s like to actually perform lash extension services. “The basic technique is simply applying synthetic lashes to the natural lash with tweezers,” explains Snow. “This is done by gliding the synthetic lash into an adhesive and sliding it onto the lash near the lash line.”
Brenda Skermont, a Roscoe, Ill.-based nail tech and educator for Lash Be Long, finds performing eyelash extension services relaxing and rewarding. “When doing nails, you are constantly involved in conversations so it is nice to have quiet time during the lash service,” says Skermont. “Most nail techs are very artistic and are used to doing very close-up, detailed work, so lash extensions are a perfect add on. You can express your creativity in the lashes as well. I like the opportunity to switch things up in my services, as it prevents burn out.”
Although basic application technique is the same across the board, there are many variations of services and products available. Some of these include different types of lashes (weight, color, length, curl shape).There are mink lashes, which are softer to the touch, and there are synthetic fiber lashes. Mink lashes are typically more expensive. “The longer and heavier the lash, the harder it is on your own eyelash to hold onto,” explains Snow. “But the more dramatic look will be achieved. There are also different curls for the lashes. These are often referred to as ‘D’ curls or ‘J’ curls, as they form that shape.”
The time required for application varies by technician experience and pricing structure. Some stylists charge a flat rate for a full set and allot an hour and a half to two hours for initial application, while others charge by the lash. The average range is about $150-$200+ to apply a complete new set of lash extensions. Like acrylic nails, lash extensions require fills. Fill time depends on the time between fills. So does the price. It is recommended clients come in every two weeks for a fill. This can take 45-60 minutes, depending on the client’s lifestyle (how they take care of them). “The cost can vary significantly by region but averages around $60-$100 for a fill,” Snow says. “If a client comes in every three weeks, it can take longer to fill in the lashes and may cost more. Because of the hair growth cycle, if a client waits any more than about four weeks after application for a fill, a stylist may charge the price for a full set again, as many lashes are likely shed at this point. Our lashes shed (with the eyelash extension) just as often as the hair on our head does.”
Snow says that a technician’s income can increase dramatically if she is good at lashes and can do them quickly. “No one wants to sit on a table for three hours getting lashes done, but they all want fuller lashes,” says Snow. “Someone could easily make $75 or more per hour doing lashes. Once a stylist has recovered the cost of her training/education and the cost of supplies, eyelash extension services are a very profitable service.”
Accidents Can Happen in the Blink of an Eye (lash)
by Lauren Snow
Before you begin any service, make sure you’ve covered all the bases. The risk of impairing someone’s sight is a serious matter — not to mention a very costly one — so talk about the risks and ask clients to fill out informed consent and health history forms. Allergic reactions are one of the most common issues with eyelash extensions. Always do an adhesive patch test on your client before the treatment.
During the service, ask your client to keep her eyes closed until you tell her to open them. Fumes from the glue can make the client’s eyes water if they are not shut. Not only is this very painful, but with enough adhesive, it can also cause permanent damage to the eye. Make sure the eye is protected by eye pads. The client must be able to comfortably close her eyes with the pads on, or they have not been applied correctly. Eye pads should hold down the lower lashes while acting as a barrier against any extra glue. And although this may sound obvious, make sure you’re using adhesive that is intended for lash services — never use medical grade adhesive, which is for medical use only and can do tremendous damage if used around the eyes.
Make sure you’re selecting the right lashes. If the client’s natural lashes are very fine, heavy lashes won’t stay on well and can lead to madarosis—the loss of the natural eyelashes. “One lash per lash” is the best rule when trying to give your clients beautiful, full lashes that last. You never want to apply eyelashes in clusters. These are far too heavy on the natural lashes and can lead to permanent damage to the hair follicle.
Last, protect yourself! Even if you take all of the proper precautions, any treatment can cause injury. Some can end up in lawsuits that are costly and drag out for years. Having liability insurance to protect yourself is a must in this industry.
License required: An esthetics or cosmetology license is usually required. Check with your state board.
Startup cost: Training and kits range anywhere from about $350 to $1,200. A reclining esthetics chair or bed can be found for less than $200.
Marketing collateral may be an additional expense.
Average price charged: Full set $175, fill (every two weeks) $75
Logistics: A separate room from the nail area or a screened or curtained-off area where the client can recline is ideal.
Click here to see an eyelash extension demo from Bella Lash.
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