My eyelashes—much like my fine Asian hair—could be described as straight, thin and limp. Not the most ideal representation of the windows to my soul. Typical of Asian lashes, the hairs fall downward over my eyes and are so fine they’re almost invisible without coats of makeup on them. In fact, my fringe is so stubborn, it takes three rounds of an eyelash curler, plus six coats of waterproof mascara just to hold the curl in place (regular mascara won’t do as the shape falls after an hour, while a waterproof formula locks in the lift as it hardens). When I heard that an eyelash perm—also known as a lash lift—could give me semi-permanently curled lashes, I jumped at the chance to minimize my makeup routine and have wide-eyed peepers around the clock.
What Is A Lash Perm?
If you’re not familiar with an eyelash perm, it’s similar to a hair perm in that chemicals are applied to break down disulfide bonds in the hair. The lash is then molded around rollers and the disulfide bonds are renewed into the shape of a lifted curl. In turn, the semi-permanent treatment creates the illusion of length, volume and height.
I visited Browhaus salon in Islington where I was told I’d have to do a patch test to ensure I was not allergic to the perming solutions. The whole process took less than thirty seconds as an esthetician swiped two different chemical solutions behind my ear using a cotton bud. I was told to wait 24 hours to see if I experienced any itching or irritation. Luckily, I was in the clear!
Before Your Appointment
It’s important to keep a few things in mind before having the procedure done. You can’t shower within 48 hours of the treatment so I suggest washing your hair right before your appointment. It’s essential to thoroughly remove any makeup (using an oil-free remover) and take out contact lenses if you wear them.
Discuss the desired size and shape of your curl with your esthetician, as you can customize how tight or loose you want your fringe to be (inquire about a C-shape verses an L-shape curl). Smaller rods will achieve an especially curly shape while large rods provide a more natural-looking lift at the ends of the lashes.
The entire process takes about 1 hour with your eyes closed the entire time. So, unless you’re good at napping, bring headphones to listen to an audio book, podcast or music. Lastly, if your bladder is as small as mine is, I recommend using the bathroom right before sitting for your perm.
I lied down on my back while my lashes were cleaned to remove any remaining makeup, oil or product. Gel patches were applied to my lower eyes to stick down my bottom lashes (preventing them from getting stuck to the top lashes).
Silicone pads referred to as “curtain rods” were placed on my upper eyelids along the lash line. Using a glue, my fringe was brushed against the rods to adhere them against the pad.
The first perm solution (meant to break down the disulfide bonds—or shape—of hair) was applied and I sat for 25 minutes.
The 2nd solution, a neutralizer that locks in the new shape of your fringe, was applied and I sat for another 15 minutes.
Cotton buds were soaked with water and used to wipe the solution off my lashes.
My eyelashes were aerated with a mini fan and the esthetician used an eyebrow spoolie to gently comb the hairs out.
A nourishing conditioning product was applied to my fringe to help keep them strong and healthy. Afterwards, I was finally allowed to open my eyes to see the outcome.
The before and after was extreme (as you can clearly see from the wide-eyed look in my photos). My lashes went from stick-straight to doll-like. They were so curly that the tips touched the skin below my brows. The treatment definitely resulted in fuller and longer looking lashes with an intense curl.
After Care Instructions
Similar to a hair perm, wetting the lashes would cause the perming process to be deactivated and the curl to fall. Therefore, I was not allowed to wet my eyelashes for 48 hours (so no mascara, showering or washing my face). Instead, I used facial wipes to cleanse my skin and applied dry shampoo onto oily roots. I was also advised to refrain from using an eyelash curler—Although, my lashes were so curly there was no need!
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is eyelash perming damaging?
Of course, any procedure is not without risks and eyelash perms are not FDA-approved. I was informed by the salon that it’s safe to have the treatment done as long as you pass the patch test and do not have the treatment done more than 3 times per year (spaced out every 4 months). I was also informed that the esthetician would notify a customer if their lashes are damaged and thus ineligible for the treatment.
So, if this become a routine beauty treatment for you, get into the habit of asking your therapist if your lashes are healthy enough to be permed that day and if you’re also okay to come back again in a few months. It’s also recommended to use a conditioning treatment daily to ensure eyelashes remain strong and healthy.
Notify the esthetician immediately if you experience any irritation or burning in your eyes. If the solution is left on your lashes too long, it can cause the hairs to break or fall out, so it’s important to find a professional salon that has tons of experience in lash perming.
2. How much does it cost?
My treatment at Browhaus in Islington was £48.
3. How long does the curl last?
About 6-8 weeks which was pretty accurate for my perm. Depending on the shape, thickness and health of your lashes, some can hold a curl for up to 3 months.
4. How long does the process take?
Approximately 1 hour.
5. How often can I get an eyelash perm?
Because eyelash perms are similar to hair perms, they can be damaging if done too often. My esthetician advised to have the process done no more than 3 times per year (every 4 months).
The process was painless and the only hassle was that I couldn’t wear mascara for two days (which I never leave the house without). However, my lashes looked curly and thick immediately after the treatment, so they still looked great without any makeup on. In fact, it almost looked as though I was already wearing mascara.
I would have liked my curl to look more natural. They were so coiled that putting on mascara presented another challenge for me. The lashes were incredibly close to the skin above my eyes that when I applied mascara, the makeup got all over my eyelids and I had to use makeup remover to scrub them off. I was hoping that the severely tight curl would fall after a couple days and there would be a great in-between stage. However, my lashes started to drop one by one, so by the 4th or 5th week, some hairs stayed super curly while others straightened out again. I think this treatment could work better for people with an already natural lift so that when the curl falls, there’s not so much of a discrepancy between the curled and straight lashes.
Because everyone is different, I suggest each person try a lash perm once to see how their lashes react. Also, specify with the technician what type of curl you’re looking for. I think I will try this treatment again and ask for a more natural L-shape rather than an exaggerated C-shape. In fact, some of the lashes on the outer ends of my eyes were “crimpy,” with an unnatural crease/bend, but this was not noticeable until weeks after the perm. I’m wondering if a looser curl would have avoided this.