When Rebecca Jones started working in Charleston salons several years ago, very few clients wanted eyelash extensions. Today, things are very different, says Jones, the owner of Simply Smitten, a West Ashley lash bar and event-planning business.
This past week, she booked 19 appointments for eyelash extensions, now much more requested than facials, Jones says. It started when the brides she met as an event planner began getting their eyelashes extended for their big days, then later made follow-up appointments.
“Over the past few years, I have just seen it grow and grow,” says Jones, certified by Houston-based Xtreme Lashes in 2007. The process involves attaching hundreds of extensions to the natural lashes on each eye.
“Today, most of my business is referral,” Jones says. “Even though they are high maintenance, they look great.” Clients who lose lashes can regain those thicker, longer and darker lashes without a prescription product. Clients can gain a touch of Hollywood glamour without wearing mascara.
Full sets of extensions at Simply Smitten are $200, with biweekly or triweekly fill-ins costing $65. Some clients want them to look like their own, others go for the drama.
Usually, all someone looking at the clients’ eyes knows is that they have great sets of lashes, says Jones. She measures the client’s longest lash and adds an extender that takes it about 3 millimeters longer.
“You could maybe extend it a little bit longer or add a little sparkle.” Jones says. “I had a client who was dressing up as a peacock. We made them very dramatic with purple and blue and teal. For October, we are doing pink for breast cancer awareness.” She also has worked with crystals.
“Now they have something called lash dipping. I think it will be something that people will go to. You can do top and bottom lashes in different colors. It’s sort of a Kim Kardashian look.
“Around here, adding feathers would be kind of fun,” says Daniella Allen of Eyelash Envy at Vanity Salon in Mount Pleasant. She says she will be using mink lashes this fall. But those aren’t things most people seek for day-to-day wear.
Nevertheless, the popularity of extensions continues to grow, as do the lashes.
Lashes, both extensions and the more traditional strips, are available in a range of styles for both top and bottom lashes. There are ones with angled points, feathers, colors and glow-in-the dark, as well as styles with beads and crystals.
There is something for every taste and mood.
“I am so glamorama,” says Jodi Niswonger of Wild Dunes, who says about eight of the women she plays tennis with wear extended lashes, each with a look that complements her eyes.
“I get compliments every day,” says Niswonger, a client of Allen’s. “They just make you look alive all the time. I don’t have to do anything in the morning but get up and brush them. I am always good to go.
“Sometimes I want them thick. Sometimes I want them a little bit longer and spread out on the ends. It just tweaks your look just a little bit. This is like having mascara on 24/7 without any of the black dots under your eyes,” Niswonger says.
“When you first get them, you are going to get a full set of up to 250 individual lash extensions,” says Allen. “More often women are going for thicker rather than longer lashes. A lot of women like doing the cat-eye look where the lashes are longer on the ends.
As long as a client has a few millimeters of lash, she can wear the extensions, says Allen, who also is certified by Xtreme Lashes. Her six years of experience with the company’s hypoallergenic and carbon black-free lashes includes working with women who have had chemotherapy.
Allen, who averages from 30 to 40 fill-ins each week, says lash extenders can even be applied to those with curlier lashes. The extensions, which Allen calls confidence boosters, are attached about a millimeter from the base of the lid, she says.
The process at Eyelash Envy costs about $250, and applying a full set takes about an hour and a half, she says. Those who get the $65 to $85 fill-ins every two- to-three weeks can expect theirs to last longer. Just how long they last depends on their lifestyle. While the lashes are waterproof a day or two after applied, the lashes won’t last as long on those who swim or shower a lot.
Allen went through the Xtreme Lashes certification course in Charleston, then went for a higher level of certification in Tampa.
Allen says sometimes a client wants colored lashes. She will disperse cobalt blue throughout the lashes if the client has blue eyes, or purple if she has green eyes. When light makes contact with colored lashes, it causes the color of the eye to pop.
Enhancements such as Swarovski crystals are usually for special occasions, Allen says. They are placed on the skin around the eyes, she says. In Charleston, the lash extenders are something more akin to wearing the very best mascara.
Reach Wevonneda Minis at 937-5705.