1. Times Style

A bird's eye view of lash extensions

I am a huge fan of lash extensions. And lash lengtheners. And really good mascara. Basically, I'm addicted to long, dark, thick lashes and, while I'll do just about anything that promises to make my lashes more lush, I come back to lash extensions, as do most female celebrities you see photographed over and over because they look so good.

For the holidays, I decided to lash up and I'm so thrilled that I did. I thought I'd share a quick guide to what it's really like to get lashes, how they feel, and how long they really last.

The appointment

Don't go to just any salon that offers lash extensions. Make sure the person you go to knows what they are doing.

I've had my lashes done at dozens of spas and salons in several cities. There are certainly many, many talented estheticians or lash technicians offering lash extension but, when the itch for uber-long lashes hits, it is crucial that you visit a lash expert who has experience. An expert who has done many lash services will take much less time to do lashes (mine take about 45 minutes vs. the two-plus hours a lash newbie may spend doing lashes) and said expert will be much better versed in applying lashes in the most natural looking way.

Lash levels

They aren't really "levels" per say but you'll find that the look, price, volume and even the heaviness of lashes varies depending on the type you get.

Synthetic lashes are the heaviest and least natural looking but most affordable. For example, I typically pay $150 for a full set of synthetic lashes. Yes, they look less natural than other types of lashes but I don't mind. I'm not getting false lashes so that I can look like a natural beauty; I'm getting them to look like a bombshell.

Faux minx: These lashes are imitation mink lashes. They are mid-priced and they are the type I am wearing now. They cost a bit more than synthetic, less than real mink, but they are a little more natural looking, a little less heavy on the lashes and tend not to weigh down the lids as much as the synthetic lashes do. I typically pay $200 for faux minx lashes.

Mink lashes: These are made of real mink, they are very light and natural looking. They cost more as well; a set like mine would run upwards of $250.

I've tried all of the above. I like the faux mink because they look really noticeable yet natural and stay on longer, with proper care. The synthetic are a bit too fake for me and the mink doesn't give me the va-va-voom I'm looking for, but all have pros and cons, and you should pick a type based on what you are trying to achieve.

With proper care, my lashes last four to six weeks or a bit more depending on my lifestyle. For example, summer sun and fun tend to be harder on lashes.

The procedure

One of the reasons that I go to my favorite lash salon is because application is fast and meticulous. Applying a brand-new full set normally takes about 45 minutes to one hour. Lower lashes are taped down (to avoid gluing upper lashes to lower lashes), eyes are closed and the technician goes to work individually bonding faux lashes to my own lashes. Of course, the application can be customized and I always ask for mine to be medium length and extra thick. (If you request more lashes than normal, expect to pay more.)

The care

Care for lashes by absolutely not showering, bathing, steaming etc. for 24 hours post application. Don't tug on your lashes or rub your eyes … ever. I love to apply mascara to my falsies even though the experts recommend not doing so. Just be careful because the mascara you apply will likely be stuck on those lashes until they fall out so use mascara that is gentle and non-clumping, or even opt for clear mascara. I also use Latisse or a similar lash-boosting product in conjunction with my extensions. I've not had any problems using both, and I feel that using a lash lengthener with faux lashes keeps my real lashes strong and full underneath.

Thanks to these faux holiday lashes, I could swipe on a coat of red lipstick, powder my nose and go to a cocktail party at the bat of a lash.

— Carolyn Brundage is the founder of, a guide to the best in local beauty. Need beauty advice? Tweet up with Carolyn on Twitter @tampabaypretty.