Oh, to have long, curly lashes . . .
If you're anything like me, you LOVE long curly lashes. But I don't have them. Latisse gave me long lashes, but they're still straight. (It's very anticlimactic!) How can someone like me - with curly hair - get straight lashes? It just doesn't make sense!
I've used an eyelash curler since before I started wearing makeup. And while other people were emphatically answering, "Lipstick!" to the one makeup item they couldn't live without, for me it was always that eyelash curler. I even went so far as to buy one of the heated ones! But that's a story for another time . . .
So when I started seeing pictures of the keratin lash lifts, as you might imagine, I got pretty excited. I'd seen pictures of lash extensions too - but the pictures of people without any lashes (OK, OK - that's an exaggeration. They had some lashes, but not many. And that's not an exaggeration!) after lash extensions and other horror stories were a big turnoff. Please don't get me wrong. I'm not bashing lash extensions. Done by the right lash technician, they can be quite lovely - and not cause all your lashes to fall out. But those pictures are always in the back of my mind!
So if you're looking for curly lashes with less upkeep - that aren't lash extensions - you're left with 2 options: a lash perm or a keratin lash lift. The most well known brand of keratin lash lifts are YUMILashes, so that's what I'll be writing about in this post.
What's a Lash Perm?
Remember those perms people got in the 80's? Well, lash perms aren't much different.
How does a lash perm work? Chemicals break down the disulfide bonds in your lashes. Then the bonds are reformed in the new "curl pattern" made by the rod.
Does it hurt? No, a lash perm isn't supposed to hurt.
How should you prepare for a lash perm? You'll probably have a consultation prior to your treatment. At that appointment, you'll learn about the treatment and how to prepare. Your lash technician will also help you pick the best rod (roller) size for you. The size determines how tight your curl is.
When you come to your appointment, your lashes should be clean and makeup free. “To get maximum penetration of the products, it’s important not to use an eye makeup remover that has oils or other moisturizing ingredients in it,” says Sophy Merszei, cosmetic chemist and founder of NovaLash.
Another good idea - get a patch test before your lash perm. It'll help you avoid an allergic reaction.
Here's what to expect:
- Glue is brushed onto your upper eyelids. It protects your skin from the perm solution and keeps the rod in place while the solution works.
- Next the rod is placed against your lash line, between your upper lid and your lashes.
- You're asked to squeeze your eyes shut while perm solution is applied to the entire length of your lashes with a brush.
- Your lashes and rollers are covered in plastic wrap for about 15 minutes. During this time, the solution breaks down the disulfide bonds in you lashes.
- An activating solution is applied, then your lashes are brushed around the rods to ensure you get that beautiful curl. The activating solution rebuilds the broken disulfide bonds and locks in your curl.
- You wait another 15 minutes with your eyes covered in plastic wrap.
- After both solutions have finished working, they're carefully removed with water.
- Your lashes are separated with a comb and conditioner is applied.
How long does the perm take? Expect your appointment to last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour.
How much does it cost? The cost is around $75 - so less than eyelash extensions.
What about aftercare? Is there anything special I need to do right after a lash perm?
- Keep your lashes dry for 24 hours afterward to protect your curl. (That means no mascara because it contains water).
- To keep your lashes from becoming brittle, it's recommended you use a lash conditioner at home.
- Don't use an eyelash curler.
How long does an eyelash perm last? The curl should last anywhere from 1 - 3 months. It will start to disappear as your lashes fall out (as part of their natural life cycle which lasts anywhere from 60 - 120 days).
How often can you get a lash perm? This treatment should not be done more than once every four weeks. “The process breaks down the structure of the hair, so it can be quite drying for some people and make lashes feel brittle,” explains Merszei.
Do people like lash perms? Lash perms can make your eyelashes very curly - so curly that some people think their lashes look shorter. So the best candidates have very straight, very LONG lashes OR very LONG, downward growing lashes.
What's in the eyelash perm solutions? Hair perms and lash perms use the same chemicals and processes. The main active ingredient in both is ammonium thioglycolate, which breaks down the protein bonds in each hair and permanently alters their structure.
Are there any bad side effects? Anything I should know about? Eyelash perm solutions aren't approved by the FDA. And the FDA also warns people about adhesives:
- The skin around your eyes is delicate and perm solution can cause irritation, an allergic reaction, burns and / or blindness (if the perm solution gets into your eye).
- If the solution is left on too long, your lashes may break and can even fall out.
- From the FDA website: "False eyelashes and extensions, as well as their adhesives, must meet the safety and labeling requirements for cosmetics. Since the eyelids are delicate, an allergic reaction, irritation, or injury in the eye area can occur. Check the ingredients to make sure you are not allergic to the adhesives."
What About the Keratin Lash Lift by YUMILashes? How Does It Compare?
This treatment was developed by a lady from Switzerland in 2008. She's a permanent-makeup artist named Sandra Viglino. She was looking for a luxurious alternative to eyelash extensions, false eyelashes, and growth serums. YumiLashesUSA.com says the treatment is NOT an eyelash perm - and there do seem to be some significant differences.
How are Yumi Lashes different from an eyelash perm?
Here's what YUMILashesUSA.com says:
- YUMILashes are a European brand of lash enhancement products made in Paris
- They are European Union (EU) approved which exceeds the normal standards of the FDA
- No harsh chemicals
- Paraben Free
"With this procedure your natural lashes are lifted up and filled with a special pigment infusion," says Elysee Zhadikpur, the Los Angeles makeup artist who brought YUMILashes to the U.S. "As a result, you have thick, dark, long lashes that beautifully curve upwards."
The tint that Elysee mentioned above can be custom mixed for you. The colors range from rich black to lighter shades for a less dramatic look.
The YUMILashes keratin lash lift also includes placing antiaging coenzyme Q10 gel pads placed on your eyelids and under your eyes.
Another BIG difference is the way YUMILashes curls your lashes. Instead of a true curl like you get with a rod / roller, your lashes are "lifted" using curved silicone forms. So instead of super curly lashes that sometimes look short, you get a gradual curl that makes your lashes look really long. Check out some before and after photos on Allure.com.
What's the treatment like? I couldn't find many details. The treatment is a company secret!
- You lie down and shut your eyes.
- Pads are applied to your eyelids and underneath your eyes.
- The lash combing begins and continues for about an hour.
- Lash tint is applied.
- Your eyes are wiped clean
- YUMILashes recommends using their keratin mascara morning and evening to moisturize and condition your lashes.
Does it hurt? No, there's no pain.
How long does the keratin lash lift take? Expect your appointment to last about 1 1/2 hours - a little longer than a lash perm.
How do you care for your lashes after a keratin lash lift? Don't get your lashes wet for 48 hours. That means keeping them dry while crying, showering or washing your face.
How much does the YUMILashes Keratin Lash Lift cost? It costs anywhere from $150 - $250, depending on where you live. So the cost is at least double that of a lash perm, but still less than lash extensions.
How long do the results last? The keratin lash lift lasts about 8 - 12 weeks.
So when should I schedule my next appointment? You should wait at least 8 weeks between treatments.
Do people like the keratin lash lift? People LOVE it! There are reviews all over the internet.
What's in the YUMILashes keratin lash lift? We really don't know. The ingredients are a YUMILashes company secret.
What's keratin? Keratin is a strong, fibrous protein naturally found in your hair, skin and nails. These keratin proteins are in each individual hair shaft. And each protein is held together by disulphide and hydrogen bonds.
- The type of hair (curly, straight, wavy, etc.) you have is determined by the shape of your hair follicles. Disulfide bonds maintain that shape. They give each hair its elasticity and strength - and each hair's shape can only be changed through perming or relaxing.
- Hydrogen bonds, on the other hand, are easily broken by water. They're temporarily reset with heat until they become wet again. These are the bonds that are broken when you wash, curl, or blow dry your hair - or a when a hot, humid day makes your hair frizzy.
I did some more digging and found an article about how keratin hair straighteners work. Granted, straightening hair is not the same as curling lashes, but I was looking for information on how the solutions work. The following excerpt is from an article on TheBeautyBrains.com:
"To visualize how these bonds shape hair, think of a ladder. The sides of a ladder are two different protein chains and the rungs that connect them are like disulfide bonds. In straight hair the rungs hold the sides rigid and perpendicular. The first bond on the left side is connect to the first bond on the right side and so on. But what if you sawed through those ladder rungs? Then you could freely move the two sides of the ladder. You could twist the sides move them up or down, shift them however you like. Then if you glued those rungs back together, you would have changed the shape of the ladder. Now instead of the first bond on the left linked to first bond on the right maybe you’ve moved the sides such that the first bond on left is linked to the second or third bond on the right. That gives the ladder a twisted shape. It’s kind of like turning a straight ladder into a spiral staircase. Straight hair is like the ladder, curly hair is like the spiral staircase."
And even though the YUMILashes formula claims not to contain formaldehyde, an Allure.com interview with, Randy Schueller, cosmetic chemist and editor of TheBeautyBrains.com warns, "Just because a stylist or hair-care company says a hair-smoothing treatment is formaldehyde-free, doesn't mean it is."
"No hair treatment will technically contain formaldehyde (because — a little more chemistry for you — it's a gas). What they can contain are methylene glycol, formalin, methanal, and methanediol — ingredients that release formaldehyde when heated or mixed with water. Because salon treatments don't require FDA approval, you need to do your own due diligence if you want a formaldehyde-free service. Ask your stylist if the treatment contains formaldehyde (or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients). If they say no, then ask them what exactly will be smoothing your hair. Remember: Keratin (or peptides or silk proteins) is not an acceptable answer. If a treatment is going to defrizz your hair for any length of time, it needs to contain an ingredient that releases the f word or a chemical that permanently breaks the bonds in the hair (see number two). Or it could contain the new smoothing ingredient on the scene."
And as Randy Schueller says, YUMILashes might contain some new "ingredient on the scene." But we don't know because we don't know what ingredients are in the YUMILashes formula.
So are keratin lash lifts safe? I can't tell! Doctors don't seem to know. They do agree that allergic reactions are a possibility. Here are the answers I found:
Here's what Dr. Jacqueline R. Carrasco, an oculoplastic surgeon at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia, thinks:
And here's what Michael J. Earley, Ph.D., doctor of optometry and associate dean of academic affairs at The Ohio State University College of Optometry, says:
"Although we have not observed specific incidents in which patients have had bad experiences with keratin lash lifts, we advise our patients to use caution when applying unknown formulations in or around the eyes.”
And then there's this 3rd opinion from Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City:
"Similar to the way a keratin treatment can change the configuration of the hair on your head, keratin can be applied to lashes and enhances natural lashes without the use of false lashes or glue. When performed by a trained professional, with proper care to ensure no harm to the eye, the procedure should be safe. The only caution would be a potential allergic reaction, which would be difficult to predict. However, if you generally have sensitive skin or eczema, I would stick to mascara."
YUMILashes includes a lash tint and the FDA hasn't approved that either:
"Don’t dye eyelashes and eyebrows. No color additives are approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows. Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries."
What's the takeaway?
If you decide that this is the treatment for you, know there are variations of these services. For example, the Sugarlash PRO CurlPerfect Lash Lift is a lash perm that gives your lashes the "lifted look" (as opposed to a curl using a rod). Elle.com lists them as costing $75 - $100, so it might pay to shop around.
Find the best lash technician!
- Look for someone who does eyelash perms / keratin lash lifts every day.
- Ask people you trust for referrals.
- Ask the technician about their training and if they receive ongoing training. YUMILashes has their own certification program.
- The technician should be able to show you his / her training course certificate.
Did I get a lash lift? YUMILashes are pretty new. And much as I love the idea, I decided to wait to see the long term results of the keratin lash lift. I got glasses when I was in 3rd grade. Eventually I got Lasik, and after all those years, I could finally see! So I'm not willing to take any chances with my eyesight - especially when an eyelash curler and mascara are good options. But I must say, I love the look of lash lifts! They're BEAUTIFUL!
Thanks for reading!
Amy Takken, RN
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!