May 24, 2023

Are Lash Extensions Out? Makeup Artists Weigh In

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Dramatic false lashes are being replaced by a more natural aesthetic, top makeup artists say.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when your highlighter needed to blind astronauts on the ISS, your eyebrows needed to look like they were computer generated, and your eyelashes needed to look like they could crawl away in order to be considered a beauty devotee. Eyelash extensions, in particular, were everywhere, with maximalist all-over length and volume being key. But post-pandemic, aesthetics have required less maintenance and emphasized skin care and wellness above all, with lashes taking on a more natural look. So for some top makeup artists and experts, false lashes have fallen out of fashion, while others are simply embracing the falsie's subtle era.

"Makeup has evolved so much since the 2015, 2016 heavy-lash trend, and I think we will start to see even more natural, wispy lash styles in 2023," celebrity makeup artist Ash K. Holm confirms. She points out that all her clients—including Ariana Grande, Kim Kardashian, and Shay Mitchell—have natural lashes right now.

"I would definitely say that the trend of big and bold lash extensions and false lashes is on its way out," celebrity makeup artist Zara Kaplan says. "This isn't to say people are ditching them altogether; they are simply seeking a more natural aesthetic." With sales of lash growth serums soaring, artists are seeing the return of fluttery styles. The new It aesthetic is an aspirational natural lash that is lengthy and full but above all believable. "People are starting to opt for more of the 'enhancing your natural features' look, away from the overdone, super-glam makeup for everyday," celebrity makeup artist Katrina Klein explains.

The professional lash industry has also taken note. "A general consensus of trends in the professional lash space signals a large movement towards this more natural aesthetic rather than the bold, over-the-top look. Overall, I think customers want beautiful lashes that stand out but don't look fake," confirms Haley Chipman, founder and CEO of Pro Lash, which launched its shorter-length Shorties collection in October 2018. Both Pro Lash and Glamnetic report increases in their natural-looking collections in the last year, with Ann McFerran, CEO and cofounder of Glamnetic, noting a 40 percent increase in sales of the brand's natural collections compared to the rest.

Lashes now are all about "lightness and separation, with a special focus on lifting and extension," celebrity makeup artist Giuly Valent says. That translates to real lashes with an excellent mascara, or false lashes featuring shorter lengths, wispier disbursement, and more intentional placement.

"My ideal lash is a light, wispy flutter to open your eye, but not obvious in any way," celebrity makeup artist Lisa Aharon says. She believes that an eyelash curler and a mascara is truly all you need; recently, she's been reaching for SoShe G.L.A.M. Refillable Mascara. Others—from Kaplan to celebrity makeup artist Katie Jane Hughes—are loving Tower28 MakeWaves Mascara.

"My favorite eye looks are usually the ones where the client's natural lashes with mascara are showcased," continues Klein, whose favorite mascaras are Diorshow Waterproof Mascara and Byredo Tears in Rain, and is partial to the Rephr Eyelash Curler. It also helps to use a long-lasting pencil like Urban Decay 24/7 Waterline Eye Pencil along your upper waterline to fake the appearance of thicker lashes. If you do reach for false lashes, she recommends avoiding ultra-thick lashes and finding wispy, fluffy styles instead, either individuals or ultra-thin strips. This is where Pro Lash Shorties and Glamnetic Virgo and Venus come in.

For more glam factor, Holm names "natural elongated lash styles" (those that are longer at the outer corners to lengthen the eye shape and achieve the siren eyes look) and "natural rounded lashes" for the desired aesthetic. These are best achieved with mascara and individual lashes like KISS Falscara Lengthening Wisps placed to accentuate the outer corners.

If it seems like lash and brow serums are everywhere these days—you're right! Vegamour GRO Lash Serum—a favorite of celebrity makeup artist Omayma Ramzy—and Kosas GrowPotion Fluffy Brow + Lash Boosting Serum are two recent examples that speak to the way lash and brow care has been incorporated into everyday skin care routines. You can even shop luxury eye makeup removers like Orveda Eye Make-Up Remover & Pro-Fortifying Lash Serum for extra lash support at the end of the night.

If you want to lean in to your natural lashes, celebrity makeup artist Rachel Pagan adds that a lash tint and lift are incredible for making your lashes pop. Celebrity lash artist Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in New York and Miami, explains that her clients in search of the natural look ask for "lashes that are not too dark or noticeable, or a better version of their mascara."

When it comes to cosmetics, there are even peptide- and active ingredient-infused cosmetics to promote lash growth, like Freck Beauty Lashrocket Liquid Liner with Lash Enhancing Peptides or By Terry Terrybly Lash Growth Mascara. "Look for mascara first, and then add a few individual lashes to naturally enhance it," celebrity makeup artist Renée Loiz advises. In these instances, she and Holm favor individual DIY lashes. "I always use KISS Falscara Lengthening Wisps or the KISS Falscara Wet FX Wisps," Holm says. "I recommend customizing the lash and playing with different styles to match the eye shadow and eye shape."

Overall, artists are noticing fewer and fewer clients opting for lash extensions these days. Some are relieved, as they can make it difficult to apply eye shadow—particularly when they are grown out—or can make the eye appear smaller. A few of Pagan's clients have discontinued lash extensions due to issues like maintenance, eye irritation, and damage to their natural lashes.

But you don't have to totally give up on extensions and falsies yet. Artists are also adamant that they are both beautiful when done right. "Longer, more doll-like faux lashes are fun for a night out," Loiz asserts. "Just not necessarily every day." Klein also recommends fauxs and extensions for those with sparse lashes or bald patches. This is exactly why fashion veteran Jenna Lyons, whose genetic condition called incontinentia pigmenti left her lashless, launched the faux-lash line Loveseen in 2020.

"Even people who wanted a full set of lash extensions are now opting for faux mink lashes that are almost unnoticeable," Ramzy points out. "I think we are craving beauty that feels like you woke up that way 'naturally.'"

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