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How to Clean Eyelash Extensions

how to clean eyelash extensions

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Learning how to clean eyelash extensions is a must for any lash lover. Whether you’re rocking a professionally-applied set or some gorgeous Lilac St. DIY lash extensions, this guide will explain how to keep your lashes clean and intact. 

Why Clean Lash Extensions

Whether you choose professionally-applied or DIY lash extensions, keeping things clean is a must. Cleaning your lash extensions will help keep your eyes safe. It’ll also preserve your extensions for longer by preventing oils and other debris from building up and weakening the glue. 

It’s pretty much a non-negotiable part of lash extension aftercare, although it can be confusing to figure out how to do it correctly. 

What Happens If You Don’t Clean Lashes?

Eyelash extensions are largely safe and they don’t have many side effects… assuming you take great care of them. 

If you don’t clean your lashes, however, you can end up with all kinds of issues, both serious and mild: 

  • Dirt and oil buildup can weaken the adhesive, so your lash extensions will fall off more quickly, and you’ll need a touch-up or new set sooner. 
  • The buildup will generate friction, which will cause your lashes to tangle more easily, which can lead to lash loss as well as just a messy, chunky appearance.  
  • In really bad cases, debris and dust that collect at the lash line can cause blepharitis, which is a type of inflammation and irritation on the eyelid and along the lash line. It can be very itchy and may develop into something more harmful.  

When to Clean Eyelash Extensions?

You will probably need to avoid water and cleansing for the first 48 hours after getting your lash extensions applied. The exact amount of time can vary depending on the brand of adhesive, so ask your technician to confirm. If you’re wearing DIY lash extensions, there are no wait times. 

It’s best to clean your lashes as often as you wash your face. For most people, that means once a day, ideally before bed. If your skin is pretty dry and you don’t wear makeup, you might be able to keep your lashes in good shape by washing them every other day. 

How to Clean Eyelash Extensions at Home?

Figuring out how to clean lash extensions can be a little intimidating since they’re so delicate. It’s natural to worry about losing your lashes if you clean them incorrectly. Here’s how to do it the right way. 

Remove makeup beforehand

Eyelash extension cleansers are often a little too gentle to remove face or eye makeup. 

We recommend removing your makeup before cleaning your lashes. This will make it easier to then clean the lashes themselves, without accidentally getting makeup residue mixed in. 

We recommend you use one of the following products to remove your makeup:  

  • Dedicated face cleanser
  • Oil-free makeup remover
  • Makeup removing cloth
  • Micellar water

Just be careful to avoid your lashes when you remove your makeup. If you’re wearing eyeliner, use a cotton swab to remove it without tugging on the lashes. To see how it’s done, check out our face cleansing video.  

Use a proper cleanser

Clean eyelash extensions

Eyelash extensions cannot be cleaned with any old cleanser. Many facial cleansers and makeup removers contain oils or strong surfactants that can break down the adhesive used to keep the extensions in place. Cleansing with the wrong remover can lead to losing extensions more quickly. 

As we explain further below, the best cleanser for lash extensions would either be a dedicated lash extension cleanser or oil-free micellar water. 

Use a brush to clean the lash extensions

Most lash cleansers also come with a small, round brush designed specifically to help you clean your lashes. A brush makes the lash cleaning a lot easier, and prevents you from accidentally pulling out lashes while cleaning.  If you don’t have a brush, you can use your ring finger instead, but be very careful to avoid pulling on your lashes. 

In the palm of your hand, pour a tiny amount of the lash cleanser. Then, add a couple of drops of water. Swirl the brush or finger around in the cleanser to foam it up a little. 

Then, with the brush, gently rub the cleanser over your lashes working your way from the lashline downwards. If you don’t have a brush, you can use your ring finger, but watch your pressure. 

It should be a given, but make sure to keep your eyes closed when you do this. 

Rinse, dry, and brush your eyelashes

Once you’ve finished cleansing one eye, gently splash your eye with cool or lukewarm water to remove the cleanser residue. Then, repeat the cleansing process on the other eye. 

Once both eyes are clean, you can gently pat the area around the eyes with an ultra-soft towel. Don’t touch your lashes with the towel - instead, just let them air dry.

Once your lashes are dry, brush them gently with a clean spoolie brush, starting at the roots and working your way to the tips. This will help detangle them, which helps keep them in place for longer, and it also makes sure they look nice and fluffy.  

What to Use to Clean Lash Extensions

Using the wrong cleanser can weaken your lash glue, so here are some of the things you can use. We even give suggestions for how to clean lash extensions without lash shampoo. 

Lash shampoo

Your best bet is a lash shampoo designed specifically for lash extensions, like the cleanser in our Lash Bath Kit. These cleansers are formulated to cleanse the eye area gently, without stinging the eyes or irritating the skin. The cleansing agents in them are chosen specifically with extensions in mind, so they won’t weaken your lash adhesive. 

Gentle cleanser 

If you don’t have a lash shampoo on hand, you can also clean your eyelash extensions with a gentle facial cleanser that’s advertised as safe for the eyes. 

The key is to use a cleanser that’s entirely oil-free, and not so strong that it’ll remove waterproof makeup since that also means it’ll break down the glue. 

You’ll also want to avoid cleansers with greasy ingredients that aren’t necessarily oils, like fatty acids, caprylic triglyceride, and most silicones. If you have any doubt about a cleanser, don’t risk using it. 

Gel and foam cleansers are best. Make sure to avoid creamy, milky, or oily cleansers. Anything advertised as a “balm cleanser” or “oil cleanser” is off-limits. 

Baby shampoo

Baby shampoo can also work well as an eyelash extension cleanser. Baby shampoo is usually formulated with very mild cleansing agents and a slightly higher pH, which prevents it from stinging the eyes. While we don’t recommend using baby shampoo on the rest of your face (our face prefers a lower pH), it’s a nice alternative for cleaning your extensions. 

To make things even more gentle, you can actually mix a few drops of baby shampoo with water in a small foamer bottle. This will dilute the shampoo, which will be more gentle on your eyes and skin. 

Can you use micellar water?

Using micellar water with lash extensions is a controversial topic. Some lash technicians recommend it while others suggest you stay away. If you choose the right formula and use it correctly, it’s okay to clean your lashes with micellar water. 

Best micellar water for eyelash extensions

The best micellar water for eyelash extensions will always be oil-free. Micellar waters designed specifically to remove waterproof makeup are sometimes too strong, and they can end up leading to lash loss. Here are some micellar waters you can use safely for cleaning your lashes: 

  • Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water is a nice, affordable choice. The pH on this micellar formula is a little higher than normal, so it’s less likely to sting the eyes (although it can be an issue with the rest of the face.) 
  • La Roche-Posay Micellar Cleansing Water Ultra and Makeup Remover is also a great, gentle option that won’t irritate the eyes. 
  • Lancôme Eau Micellaire is a more luxury micellar water with a rose scent. If you like to feel pampered and don’t mind a fragrance, it’s a great choice. 

How to clean eyelash extensions with a micellar water

Figuring out how to clean eyelash extensions with micellar water can be a little troublesome. You cannot use a cotton pad as you would normally since the friction is guaranteed to pull off some of your extensions. 

Instead, we recommend using micellar water just like you would a regular cleanser. The only difference is that it won’t foam up. 

Simply dip your lash brush (or any clean, fluffy eye makeup brush) in a bit of the micellar water. Then, use the brush to gently brush the micellar water over your extensions. Finally, rinse your eyes with cool water. 

Tips for Cleaning Eyelash Extensions

Here are a few more tips that’ll make figuring out how to wash eyelash extensions a little easier. This section will also help you understand how to keep lash extensions clean. 

Avoid wearing mascara or eyeliner

Both mascara and eyeliner can get pretty problematic when you wear lash extensions. It’s not so much wearing these products that’s the issue as it is trying to remove them.

If you do feel the need to wear a bit of makeup occasionally, opt for a washable, easy-to-remove eyeliner and mascara designed specifically for lash extensions. 

Use an oil-free makeup remover

Oils, whether from products or your face, can break down the glue that keeps your lash extensions intact. While wearing extensions, you’ll want to avoid oil-based skin care as well as oil-based makeup removers. Instead, switch to oil-free formulas like micellar water. Alternatively, you can also try a makeup removing cloth like the one in our Lash Bath Kit! 

Don't use cotton pads

Cotton pads, as well as other abrasives, can pull on your lashes and remove the extensions. Instead, it’s better to use an ultra-soft brush when cleaning the lashes and lashline themselves. 

You can also use your ring finger to gently brush your lash cleanser of choice over your lashes.  When dealing with eye makeup above the lashes, a makeup remover cloth will be your best bet. 

Use a protective after-cleanse product

A lash extensions sealant like the Lilac Lash Crystal Coat can be incredibly useful after cleansing. Such products create a seal over the lash glue, to keep it strong, and they can also provide a really nice sheen to your lashes. You can also purchase a sealant from your lash specialist. 

Use a silk pillowcase

Lash extensions, whether professional or DIY, are designed to be slept in. However, most people still experience the most lash loss at night, usually because they’re using a cotton pillowcase. 

The smoother your pillowcase, the less it’ll pull at your lashes, causing them to come off. While you should generally try to sleep on your back, a silk or satin pillowcase will also help if you turn over in your sleep. 

Don’t forget to brush 

eyelash brushing

We’ve already touched on this, but it bears repeating: brushing your lash extensions is so important! Tangled lash extensions don’t look great, but that’s only a small part of the reason. When lashes get tangled, the tangle pulls and puts stress on the glue, which can lead to lash loss. It’s so important that you brush your lashes both in the morning and at night, to detangle for that fluffy look and longer-lasting extensions. 

Final Thoughts

That’s really all there is to it! While learning how to clean lash extensions can be confusing at first, it’s actually pretty simple as long as you remember these basics: 

  • It’s really important to clean your lash extensions, both to keep them intact for longer as well as to keep your eyes safe. 
  • Cleaning the lashes has to be a very gentle process done either with your ring finger or a clean brush. 
  • There are a few types of products you can use to clean your eyelash extensions.  These include lash extension cleansers, gentle foaming face cleansers, baby shampoo, and micellar water. 
  • The most important thing is to choose an eye-safe product that’s totally oil-free. 
  • The rest of the time, you’ll want to avoid any friction against your eye area from cotton pads or pillowcases. 
  • There are a few other ways to keep your lashes intact for longer. They include avoiding mascara, using a lash sealant, and brushing your lashes regularly. 
  • All of these tips on how to clean your eyelash extensions apply to both professional extensions, as well as DIY ones like our gorgeous Lilac St. clusters. 

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Maya Adivi

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.

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