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The Single Most Important Beauty Investment I've Made

Why I'm loving lash extensions.

For someone with a full-blown eye phobia (this Friends episode felt like a storyline straight from my life), it makes zero sense that I'd be the only one of my friends brave enough (dumb enough?) to painstakingly use a safety pin to separate each one of my lashes out post-mascara application. But every morning, for years, you'd find me sitting in my bathroom sink—the only place I could get close enough to the mirror for such a delicate procedure—de-clumping my lashes with the finesse of a surgeon. Even when I finally honed my application technique to leave me mostly clump-free, I couldn't find a mascara that didn't leave a ring of black flakes under my eyes by the end of the day. As someone who cares about looking pulled-together, but resents the time and effort that goes into it (not a great combo), my mascara tribulations drove me nuts.

When I joined a gym a few months ago, I finally hit a mascara wall. If you've ever been in a gym locker room at 7:30 in the morning, you know it's a sweaty nightmare. Between the post-class race to the showers (I've actually seen a woman run to beat another woman to a shower) and the steam that melts makeup off as soon as it's applied, my mascara game was struggling. It was always the first thing to go by the end of the day. That's why, when a friend met me for after-work drinks with perfect Bambi-like doe-eyed lashes, I stared in amazement until she admitted, "They're fake!" She showed me the extensions that looked almost indecipherable from her natural lashes, but better. The next morning, I booked an appointment at the same place she'd been, BlinkBar, and haven't looked back since. Far and away from any other product or treatment, lash extensions have been the best beauty investment I've made in terms of making my life easier. Because they're so dramatic, I barely need any other makeup (just brow gel and cover-up!) and look better now than I did when I wore more! It's exactly the fresh-faced look I was hoping for when I went completely makeup-free a few weeks back. Here's what you need to know about lash extensions:

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After the technician tapes down your bottom lashes (the most uncomfortable part of the entire thing, but also the quickest!), they'll glue false lashes on top of each individual lash. The first appointment (a "full") takes about two hours, while "fills," or appointments made to up-keep the lashes, take about an hour, depending on how many lashes you have.

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Once I'm past the whole taping-down-of-the-lower-lashes torture, I actually really enjoy myself. When else do you have an hour where you have to lay down with your eyes closed, sans distractions? I love chatting with my lash technician (I highly recommend Kourtney at BlinkBar!) about anything/everything, but she says many clients will listen to music or a meditation app, or even fall asleep. It's surprising how relaxing it is. 

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As soon as the lash technician handed me the mirror for the big reveal, I didn't know how to react. "Wow. There are so many of them," was all I could get out—while I'd asked for something "just a little more dramatic than mascara," they felt so much more over-the-top than I thought they'd be. She immediately read my expression (I have a terrible poker face), and assured me, "I know they look like a lot at first, but that's only because you're so used to what they look like without extensions!" As promised, within a day, I was obsessed with them. While I thought friends would notice them immediately, they only responded after I pointed them out, saying, "I was actually going to ask you what mascara you were wearing—your lashes look fantastic!"

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You can be as specific as you'd like with your lashes. Many boutiques offer a menu, with options for style, length, curl, and material that range from natural to Lace in Bachelor in Paradise. For reference, mine are around 10 mm (they range from 9 to 15 mm) with a "J" curl (request a "C" if you want full-Kardashian).

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To properly maintain lash extensions, they recommend you go every two to three weeks. With proper care, you can make them last as long as a month, but they'll start to look a little sad around the two-and-a-half week mark. I usually get mine done every three weeks.

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I won't link to any lash-extensions-gone-wrong photos here because, once you see them, they're something you really can't unsee. Needless to say, when it comes to any beauty procedure that involves using glue anywhere close to your eyes, you don't want to skimp. Go somewhere with outstanding reviews, or that's been vetted by a friend. 

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Until lash extensions, I spent close to nothing on my beauty regimine. I get my hair cut once a year at a salon at home that still charges $40 (in L.A., a haircut will easily run you over $100) and take full advantage of the products brands send to the blog to try (a major perk of the job!). I don't get blow-outs, facials, or pricey treatments, so this is really my one beauty expense, but it can run you between $59 to $170 per month for fills, depending on the quality of lashes you opt for.

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At least that's what happened to me! The bulk of my routine now is skincare. The first thing I do after getting out of the shower is apply serum, followed by moisturizer, and SPF, then cover-up (and tinted moisturizer, if I need it), and brow gel. While I still fill in my brows some days, I don't really need it now that my eyes look so dramatic. And of course, I can skip mascara now!

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There are, of course, a few downsides that come with lash extensions, one being that I can't ever completely remove my makeup—I feel a little like this when hiking now. Also, you have to be careful with other parts of your routine like showering and washing your face—heavy scrubbing and oil break down the glue that secures the lashes, so you may need to switch-up your cleanser and avoid wearing heavy eye makeup. But if you ask me? I can live with some awkwardly made-up hikes. 

I'd love to hear: Have you tried lash extensions? Are you curious to try them? What has your experience been? Tell me in the comments below!

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