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Lash Extensions vs False Lashes: What to Choose?

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Eyelash extensions and fake lashes are two popular ways to amp up your look. They help to frame and enhance the eyes, especially if you weren’t naturally blessed with long lashes. So how can you choose between lash extensions vs false lashes?

There’s a lot to consider! In this post, we’ll compare and contrast all of the key elements of each option. We cover application, appearance, longevity, costs, and risks. Finally, we’ll discuss DIY extensions, and how they straddle the line between falsies and extensions.

Article at a glance

  • This post analyzes the differences between lash extensions and false lashes on 5 key factors.
  • Both false lashes and extensions come in a wide range of styles, to suit every eye shape.
  • False lashes are generally more affordable, but they have to be reapplied on a daily basis.
  • Eyelash extensions are an expensive salon service, but they last for a long time.
  • DIY extensions are an in-between solution since they can be done at home and they offer multi-day wear.

Application and Maintenance

The biggest difference when it comes to eyelash extensions vs false lashes is the application.

Lash Extensions vs False Lashes

False Lashes

False lashes come in singles, clusters, or strips, and you can apply them all by yourself at home.

The lashes are constructed of two parts. There is a strip base (or a little knot if you have individual lashes) and the lash hairs attached to that base.

To apply false lashes, first, apply an adhesive to the base. Once the glue dries down, it becomes sticky. At that point, you place the lashes right above the lash line and press them in gently to get them to stick.

The glue for false lashes is gentle, and it’s only meant to stay in place for about a day. If you’re new to falsies, you’ll need to be a little careful not to rub them off your eyes. 

Eyelash Extensions

On the other hand, eyelash extensions are applied in a salon. A lash technician uses individual, lash-like fibers to create a customized look. The service usually takes 1 to 2 hours. The extensions stick to the natural lashes with a strong hold glue, so they stay in place for 4-6 weeks.

There are some strict maintenance rules when it comes to caring for lash extensions. It’s important to avoid water for the first few days after an application. After that, avoiding oil-based products is essential for keeping the extensions in place.

Appearance

Both false lashes and eyelash extensions come in a wide range of styles. It’s mostly up to you to choose a design that suits your tastes and your eye shape. However, while they may come in a massive range of lash lengths and designs, there are still some differences that apply across the board. 

false lashes vs extensions

False Lashes

The main detail that makes false lashes unique is that they’re glued down to the lash line. Without makeup, the band is visible no matter its color. This means that they’re inherently a little more visible.

Additionally, false lashes are less customizable than eyelash extensions. You have to choose a specific shape at the time of purchase. It’s entirely possible to end up with a style that doesn’t flatter your eye shape. The band on the lashes might also be a little longer than your natural lash line, so you may have to trim them.

Eyelash Extensions

Lash extensions leave your lash line visible, which makes them seem more natural. This is because they're glued to your natural lashes rather than to the lashline.

Eyelash extensions are also more customizable than fake lashes. The individual lashes used for the extensions come in a wide range of lengths and curvatures. Depending on how they’re placed on the lash line, they can create a nearly endless amount of looks.

Your lash stylist will apply them based on what you request and what will flatter your eye shape the most. However, since eyelash extensions are long-lasting, if your stylist creates something that you don’t like, you’re a little stuck. 

Longevity

Are you looking for a night of fun or do you want a long-term, no-fuss method to keep your lashes long and lush? 

False Lashes

False eyelashes are a one-night type of deal. You put them on as part of your makeup application, and when you wash your makeup off at night, they come off too.

The lashes themselves are usually reusable as long as you clean them after each wear. Some brands even claim that their lashes last for up to 25 uses. Usually, though, lashes get shabby after 3-5 wears. 

Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash extensions are a much more long-lasting option. They stay put for 4-6 weeks, and they only start falling off as your natural lashes start to shed. The glue itself is nearly permanent, and removal requires an expert touch.

It’s a one-off service that keeps you looking great for weeks, without the need for re-application. Once you feel like your lash extensions look too sparse, you can go back to the salon for a refill or have them removed.

Cost

Do you prefer to spend a bit of money on a temporary pick-me-up or would you rather invest in a long-term style? That’s the main difference between fake lashes vs eyelash extensions, so let’s break down the prices.

False Lashes

False lashes vary quite widely in price. There are affordable drugstore options that only cost $3.00-$7.00 per pair. On the higher end of the spectrum, luxury brands go up to $20-$25 per pair of lashes.

There are plenty of lashes that fall somewhere in the middle, as well. Very cheap outliers are often of very poor quality, while lashes that cost more than $25 per pair are rarely worth the price.

Eyelash Extensions

As with all beauty services, the cost of eyelash extensions depends on the salon you choose. Spending $200-$500 is reasonable for a full, new set of lash extensions.

The prices vary so much because there are so many types of lash extensions. Some materials are more expensive than others, while voluminous styles will take longer and need more material.

Refills, which are done 3-4 weeks after getting a full set, are always less expensive. They usually cost between $50-$100.

Risks

In general, both false eyelashes and eyelash extensions are quite safe, and their risks are relatively similar to using other eye cosmetics. There’s room for error, though, so check out the common safety risks and how you can avoid them.

False Lashes

The main risks with false lashes are pretty minor. In general, as long as you use false lashes correctly and remove them gently, everything should be okay.

If you remove them aggressively, the lash glue may take off some of your real lashes. If you don’t keep your lashes or glue clean, you can end up with an eye infection, although it's pretty rare.

If you have any allergies, it’s important to check the ingredients of your lash glue. Some lash adhesives are made with latex and formaldehyde, which can trigger allergies and cause irritation.

Eyelash Extensions

With eyelash extensions, your safety is in the hands of your stylist. Shop around carefully because side effects are usually a result of poor training. In particular, you can end up with an eye infection if your technician doesn’t follow good hygiene practices.

Aside from that, the most common side effect is mild irritation from the strong glue. That tends to go away shortly after the service. In some cases, those with allergies can experience severe irritation, so talk to your technician about that in advance.

Finally, as with false lashes, removing your eyelash extension incorrectly can lead to lash loss. Be careful and have it done professionally! 

DIY Eyelash Extensions

If you can’t choose between eyelash extensions vs false lashes, DIY eyelash extensions sit comfortably in the middle.

eyelash extensions vs false lashes
  • Application: DIY extensions can be applied at home. They require a bit more effort than strip lashes, but they’re easier to apply than individual lashes.
  • Appearance: They come in a wide range of styles, from natural to dramatic! Because they’re designed to stick to the lash line from below, they blend in easily.
  • Longevity: DIY eyelash extensions stay put for around a week. They're a great semi-permanent option.
  • Cost: They’re super budget-friendly! Lilac St. DIY extensions only cost $7 a pair.
  • Risks: As long as you keep your application hygienic, DIY extensions are very safe. They’re applied with a latex-free glue that’s less likely to trigger allergies.

Bottom (Lash) Line

False lashes and DIY extensions are both awesome ways to enhance your eyes. One is not better than the other - they’re just different!

If you’re the kind of person who loves to play with their look and change things up, false lashes are the obvious choice. On the other hand, if you’d like to look glam without constant effort, professional extensions might be better for you. Just be ready to spend some cash!

Finally, for those who wish for something in between, DIY extensions are the latest innovation that’s worth a try.

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Maya Adivi

Makeup artist, Beauty writer

Maya Adivi is a makeup artist and beauty writer originally from Toronto, Canada. She’s passionate about all things makeup, skincare, and beauty. She takes a science-based approach to writing, ignoring the marketing buzz in favor of facts and results.