Because lash extensions are so new to the beauty industry - relative to hair, make up, and nails - the rules and regulations for who can perform the service is not strictly enforced in many US States. We are talking about super sharp implements and medical grade adhesives being used directly on your eyes, so it is important that you find a licensed and trustworthy professional to perform this service for you. Ever hear a lash extension horror story? Very likely that the poor result was due to an under-qualified person performing the service. So how do you know if the popular "lash tech" you follow on Instagram is trustworthy? Here are some questions to ask and answers to listen for before you book your appointment:
Question: Are you a Licensed Beauty Professional as well as Lash Extension Certified?
Answer breakdown: What you are looking for here is someone who is BOTH licensed and certified. What's the difference, you ask?:
A Licensed Beauty Professional has completed the total necessary hours of theory and hands-on learning in a Beauty School recognized by their State Board of Cosmetology. This person has completed all required hours and has taken a State Board Exam to receive their Esthetician or Cosmetology license which gives them the legal ability to perform the beauty services under their scope of practice. They have basic knowledge of blood borne pathogens, sanitation, facial bones and anatomy, hair chemistry and structure, color theory, skincare, and the ethics of managing a clientele in the salon industry. After one receives their Esthetician or Cosmetology license, they are then able to go on to legally work in a salon or spa setting and specialize in certain areas of expertise - hair coloring, hair styling and cutting, make up application, skin care services, etc.
Someone who is Lash Extension Certified has taken a one to two day course of theory and hands on practice in the art of Lash Extensions. There are many types of certifications for each technique - Intro to Classic, Advanced Styling, Volume, Mega-Volume, Russian Volume, Asian Lid Lifting, Facial Balancing etc. Your best bet is to find an artist who continues their lash education and is well-rounded in their techniques and certifications. This way they are able to truly customize your lash extensions based on your needs. These certificates are not regulated or recognized by their respective State Board of Cosmetology, therefore you often do not need to be licensed to take a course. There are a few respectable lash companies that DO require a professional license, however most companies will turn a blind eye and train anyone and just "recommend" that the person has a professional license. Because of this, many unknowing aspiring lash artists will take a training and get "certified", only to find out that they cannot be hired in any salon or spa setting. (It is illegal to perform beauty services in a salon/spa setting without a license.) This has lead to a large amount of unlicensed at-home Lash Artists.*
* Disclaimer: I'm not saying that someone who did not go to beauty school to receive a professional license will automatically untrustworthy or horrible at doing lashes - it's the ability, passion, and skill that counts. But rules and regulations exist for a reason - to keep consumers safe - and if you are trying to find a high quality Lash Artist, it is the safest bet to find someone who is both Licensed and Certified. To find out if someone is licensed, you can visit your state's Board of Cosmetology website and enter the persons name into the "Verify License" section.
Question: How long have you been doing lash extensions?
Answer breakdown: Believe it or not, lash extension is a truly tricky skill. Most lash extension trainees leave their first lash certification class feeling totally overwhelmed and frustrated. Its not uncommon for a first time set of extensions to take 5 hours and only be 50% full and not the prettiest sight. To use a tweezer in your non-dominant hand for the first time to isolate tiny lashes on a living, breathing, moving person's eye and then use your other hand to pick up a tiny synthetic lash and properly place is not easy at all. It takes hours and hours of practice to develop muscle memory in your hands and fingers and for your eyes to adjust. Gradually with practice, application time cuts down, direction looks better, retention improves, and the sets become insta-worthy!
While everyone has to start somewhere and you SHOULD support your Esthetician/Cosmetologist friend who is an aspiring Lash Artist, just know that the results of your extensions from a newly certified Lash Artist may not be as stunning or comfortable as you hope. If you are someone who is extremely picky, nervous, or looking for a very specific style of lash extensions, you are should find someone who has a good amount of experience to avoid disappointment. If you are not too picky and just looking for a non-specific lash enhancement, seeing a Junior Stylist or a Lash Artist-in-Training may be a great way to add some sparkle to your eyes without shelling out a ton of $$$.
Question: What techniques and styles do you offer?
Answer breakdown: There are so many different techniques and styles for lash extensions. While the basic way to apply is called Classic, there's also Volume, Hybrid, Mega-Volume, Russian Volume, Strip-Lash recreation, Wispy, Perfect Line... etc. It is important to know what styles your Lash Artist offers. If you saw an awesome picture of a super full, dark wispy set on Pinterest or Instagram, and want your lash artist to give you that look only to find out when you get there that they only know how to do Classic Lashes, you are going to be disappointed.
Question: Are your Volume and Hybrid Sets created with handmade fans or pre-made fans?
Answer breakdown: While previously frowned upon and poorly made, newer pre-made fans are gaining popularity in the lash world for reducing the amount of time it takes to create a Hybrid or Volume Set. With higher quality products being made, it isn't automatically a bad thing if your artist uses them. However, there's only so much customization that can be done with pre-made fans. If you are looking for the highest level of artistry and a customized lash set, you will want to find someone who hand-makes their volume fans during your set. The extra time and price will be worth it!
Run far, far away if the person tells you they use CLUSTER lashes. This is very different from lightweight lash extensions and should only be applied with a temporary strip lash adhesive for a night or two.
Question: Do you have photos of your work?
Answer breakdown: This is a simple one. Asking to see photos of your Lash Artist's work will give you an idea of their ability and what your lashes may look like after your full set with them.
Question: What do you recommend for aftercare and maintenance?
Answer breakdown: If a Lash Artist tells you not to ever get your lashes wet and sends you on your way, find someone else! A high quality lash artist takes pride in their work and wants you to keep your lashes as clean and maintained as possible. Not to mention they should care about your long term eye health as well.
These are just a few ways you can narrow down a high quality Lash Artist in your area. Also don't forget that their pricing will reflect the quality of work, so shopping around for the lowest prices isn't the way to go when it comes to beauty services.