If You're Considering a Lash Perm, Read This First

If eyes are the windows to the, well you know, then lashes are the drapes — or, if you’re like me and born with pretty short ones, at least the valances. On my quest to greater lengths, I’ve turned to everything from mascara primers to falsies to extensions. While I’m a huge fan of the effect extensions can give, those of us who are double cleansers know upkeep can be a pain. Plus, the price tag can certainly give one pause.

But lately, thanks to the near-magic of over-the-counter lash serums, (hmu in the comments if you’d like to read a piece on how I grew my lashes), it feels as though my lashes have finally arrived. And so, for the very first time, I decided to try a lash perm. Now, if you’re considering one for yourself, here’s what you need to know before your appointment.

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Before You Go

  1. Set down the mascara. Before your lash appointment, you’ll want to keep your eye area free of makeup. While most places can remove your makeup for you, best results come from a clean palate.

  2. Consider the risks. Lash perms can be irritating to those with sensitive skin. If you’ve ever had an adverse reaction to perming solution before, this might not be the best option for you. Additionally, perming can cause dryness and damage to the hair, which is why I personally opted for a keratin lash perm, which is a gentler, more moisturizing treatment. It’s best to do ample research before you go.

  3. Check prices. While prices vary from location to location, most lash perms cost under $100 with the range falling around $25 to $80.

  4. Manage your expectations. Additionally, while the results can be amazing, you must remember that the perm works with what you’ve got. Your lashes aren’t going to suddenly get lush as with extensions.

  5. Contacts vs. Glasses. For those who wear contact lenses, consider swapping out for glasses before your appointment. While I personally kept my contacts in, those with sensitive eyes might want to be extra careful.

  6. Know what to expect. A lash perm lasts anywhere from four to eight weeks depending on the texture of your hair, aftercare, and environmental factors. The process itself overall is about an hour depending on your lash shape, additional conditioning treatments, etc.

Aftercare

  1. Avoid water for at least three hours. And yes, this includes steam and copious amounts of sweat. If you’ve watched Legally Blonde at all (or a hundred times, no judgment), you’ll know that the ammonium thioglycolate, or the active ingredient in perming lotion, loses efficacy when it touches water.

  2. Watch your sleep posture. If you’re a stomach sleeper, avoid sleeping face down as that will ruin your curl.

  3. Continue laying off the mascara. At least until the following day. But, it’s totally possible that you’re not going to even want to hide your eye-popping new lashes anyway. All other makeup is fine to wear, even liners.

  4. Go about your life. You can workout, wear makeup, use any face cleanser and remover you’d like (lash extension wearers, yes really!), and apply any treatments and serums during the duration of your perm — just watch out for water and sweat in the first three hours.

My Experience

To begin, I want to make clear that this is a completely unsponsored review. After doing some research into salons in NYC, I decided to go to Gigi Adachi of Mai Lash Bar. I opted for the Keratin Lash Perm (regularly priced $80), as the keratin treatment is a gentler option and I wanted to minimize damage.

She began by showing me four options for how “lifted” my lashes could get, from a more natural C-curl to a dramatic L-shaped one. I opted for the second most dramatic option since my lashes naturally already point up, and thus, a natural curl might not have much of an effect. The, she applied a glue on my lids to help hold my lids in place, and protected my under eye area with moist eye patches.

Because my lashes were stiffer than most (straight-haired folks, ya feel me), she had to apply some elbow grease to get my hairs softened into the right shape, which she did with a keratin conditioner that she left on for 18 minutes. Once my strands became more pliable, she applied the perming solution and let the fluid sit for another 10 minutes. Like all perming solution, it didn'’t smell great, but luckily, not a whole lot was used.

It wasn’t the most comfortable experience. Since I’m not used to having my lashes tugged at, so the sensitive skin around my eyes definitely got a tad raw. Additionally, the solution made my skin itch and burn a bit, but never at any point did it get alarming. (If it does for you, have your technician stop immediately.) After a while, I got used to the feeling.

After about a total of 45 minutes or so, Gigi washed the solution off with cotton balls, applied a keratin top coat, and handed me a hand mirror to see the results. And wow, I’m a convert. I feel as though I’ve discovered my lashes for the first time. While I’m not sure I’d forgo mascara with a heavier face beat, I finally feel like I can go bare on the eyes and actually do a five-minute makeup look. I’ll be booking again ahead of my Italian honeymoon in September.