Batting an Eye(lash)

Well, we can add a new chapter to my never-ending quest for frivolous, over-priced beauty enhancements. But this time, the results were less than impressive; in fact, they were almost disastrous. Because this time, I decided to try out getting eyelash extensions.

Pretty much the only way I’ll wear extensions again

Usually I have good luck with these sorts of procedures, but of course, I usually do my homework and read up on the possible complications ahead of time so I can make an informed decision. When I finally decided to perm my hair last summer, it was with full awareness that I might fry it to hell and back, or end up looking like a deranged poodle; I’d weighed my options long enough to feel comfortable with whatever outcome I might encounter. I’d also researched the steps needed to provide me with the best chance of success – don’t go cheap, ask questions of the hairstylist and be sure he or she did perms regularly, have a consultation first, etc. I did the same amount of research before getting Botox, or fillers (only did that once and didn’t care for it), or hell, even highlighting my hair a month ago. I know the risks, and I know what to expect when I sit down in a stylist’s chair or doctor’s table. So, while I may not get the results I’m hoping for, at least I’m not surprised by what transpires.

However – about a week ago I read an account from someone I know who’d gotten eyelash extensions, and although I’d heard of them I’d never considered them before. But hers looked so wonderful, and I’d never been able to make glue-on falsies work on me, that it gave me the itch to try them. Remember that word itch, ’cause it’s important later on.

I did do some Googling about them, and mostly read pro-and-con type blog posts about how great they looked, but also how time-consuming and expensive they can be to maintain. Well hell, maintenance isn’t such a big hassle to me if it’s something I really want, so after a few hours of reading I decided to book an appointment at my regular salon to give them a go. My nail salon is a pretty upscale place, so I felt confident that I’d be getting a qualified technician to do the job. The price also indicated professionalism – $200 for a full set, and about $75 for each refill.


The technician was incredibly booked, so I snagged the only upcoming appointment I could get, which was a Tuesday at 5 PM. This just so happened to be two days before school started up for the fall semester, so I knew I’d be really busy, but the thought of having lovely, fabulous lashes for my first day of teaching (the day we also take photos for the yearbook and our staff IDs) was appealing enough for me to set that time aside.

I met with the nail tech, and we discussed maintaining the lashes and what to expect during the procedure. I mentioned to her that my eyes could be sensitive, but usually weren’t, and she told me it was normal to feel a little burn from the glue while the lashes were being applied,  but if the burn turned into real pain I needed to let her know. I agreed to do so, then laid down on the table under a bright light, so she could get to work.

Now – here comes the first part of this process that I had not anticipated: in order to ensure that none of my lower lashes accidentally got stuck to the upper ones, they had to be covered with a pad. After mashing the lower lashes under the pad, which is done by pushing it right up against the waterline, I was to close my eyes so the technician was working with only my upper lashes, which would be resting on top of the white eyepad. However, we had to try six times to get the pad to fit under my eye in a manner that didn’t cause me great discomfort and irritation, as well as making my eyelids flutter and water instead of staying closed.


It was at this point I realized that hey, I really did kinda jump into this without doing my research, because I never get surprised by a part of the process when I try out cosmetic enhancements like this. And this time, I just didn’t bother to do good homework, because I never even saw this coming. How anyone can keep their eyes closed while mashed down on what felt like a piece of paper pushed up against the waterline is beyond me, but the technician said most women don’t have a problem with it. I really was thinking that if I’d known I’d be lying on my back for two hours with pads shoved into my eyes I would have re-thought the entire procedure, but there I was, so I decided to soldier on.

My eyes never did stop watering, not once during the two hours I was getting each individual synthetic lash attached to a real one. I also noticed that I was far less relaxed, and much more chatty in nonsensical, nervous kind of way, than I usually am. I was also wiggly, and uncomfortable, and very nervous – again, not my usual demeanor when doing stuff like this. And the eyes watered on, and yes, they did burn, but that tingly little burn you sometimes get when you apply regular lash glue, the kind that irritates a little but stops when the glue dries, and isn’t that big of a deal.


The last 45 minutes, though, were pure torture. I was thinking things like, OMG I am going to have to insist that she stop now, and asking her repeatedly how much longer we had to go. I was even apologizing constantly for being one of “those” clients who spent the entite time on the table whining and nattering on. It was just…weird, and I kept visualizing the woman sneezing or something and sticking me right in the eye with her little needle. In short, I was freaking out.

When she was finally done and showed me the results in the mirror, I was awestruck. The lashes were gorgeous. I was so pleased I managed to convince myself that my red-ringed eyes would calm down, just as she told me they would, and that the fact these gorgeous lashes felt a bit like pine needles scratching my lids would subside, but once again, I was really doubtful, and nervous, in a manner I am usually not. several times I asked her if they were supposed to feel this way, and she reassured me once again that different people experience different level of discomfort at first, but that in an hour or so it should be fine. She did tell me to be sure and come back in if I wanted them removed, and not to do so at home.

I must admit, they were gorgeous. For about an hour.

To make this already too-long story shorter: I was uncomfortable all evening, and even swallowed a few Benadryl to try and relieve the swollen lids and itchy eyes; but when it came time for bed I found it too uncomfortable to close my eyes. I could just feel those suckers poking at me and scratching my skin.  Then I made what may or may not have been the worst mistake of the night: I Googled “lash extensions irritation” and was bombarded immediately with images of women sporting puffy, swollen-shut eyes, and reading horror story after horror story about the dangers of the procedure.

Normally, even when something doesn’t go the way I would have liked, I accept that and move on in whatever way I must do; this time, I went into a complete panic. My heart was racing, I hyperventilated, I got dizzy and terrified. I calmed myself down by making plans: OK, in the morning if you’re really swollen, you can call in sick and get to a doctor or back to the salon right away, if you’re just still feeling a bit off you can make it through the day and then decide, or maybe you’ll just wake up with these gorgeous lashes and the irritation will have gone away. By running through the options in my mind, I finally calmed myself down enough to fall asleep around 12:30. But then, at 1 AM, I leapt up out of the bed with distinct feeling that my throat was closing up. It was so intense that without even fully waking I ran out of the bedroom into the den where my husband was still up watching TV, panting at him with what little breath I had left that…well, that nothing, because by the time I made it into the den the sensation had stopped, and while I could breathe again, I was panting like a madwoman and clawing at my own chest like I still thought I might die.


I muttered something to Doug about a bad dream, and some mascara I couldn’t wash off (I didn’t tell him about getting the extensions for no real reason except that it didn’t come up, and in hindsight I am so glad I didn’t because he would have given me hell for weeks if he’d known, in light of what happened). I remembered that the technician had said not to get the lashes wet for 48 hours, so I figured that meant it would break down the glue and the lashes might come off; straight to the bathroom sink I went to stick my face in handful after handful of cold water and slowly rub those suckers off. In my Googling before falling asleep I’d read that anything oil-based might also cause them to fall off, so I used both some oil-based makeup remover AND olive oil from the kitchen to weaken the glue further (Doug did not even ask why I dashed into the kitchen for a bottle of olive oil to take with me into the bathroom, which leads me to believe he thought I was experiencing some sort of bizarre sleepwalking episode he didn’t want to interrupt).

It only took about ten minutes, but I managed to snap off every single one of those $200 worth of false lashes – along with most of my natural ones. My eyes were red, puffy, itchy, and ugly as hell all the next day, but honestly I did not even care. The five hours I had those lashes glued on were the most beautiful and excruciating hours of the life of my damn eyes, and I would have done anything after that horrid panic attack to get them off. I managed to get back to sleep around 2:30, then had to get up at 6 AM for work – let me tell you, I looked a hot damn mess that day, but again, I did not even care, because I have never been so relieved to get rid of false eyelashes in my life. I kid you not when I say that I thought those things were going to kill me.


So, it’s off to bed I go again, so I can get up for the first day of school tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll be able to put some makeup on my eyes tomorrow to conceal the lack of lashes, but if not, I’ll just show them the picture of how great I looked for about an hour before it all came crashing down. Let me be a warning to you people – don’t get lazy about doing your research before getting anything done, no matter how simple and harmless it might appear to be. And trust your instincts, not your technician! If it doesn’t feel right, just get on up and tell them no thanks. Your eyelashes will thank you for it later.

PS: I typed this up really fast, so I apologize for typos and lack of clarity or eloquence. I think I’m still shaking off the effects of my brush with death. I also realize the pictures are cheesy, but again, I was in a hurry.