Approaching double-digit growth and generating nearly one billion dollars a year in the United States alone, eyelash extensions have become big business. Between the price point (a full set costs between $175 and $500 for first timers) and maintenance (monthly touchups running $80 and $150), finding the right technician to perfect your lash look is so important. But it’s not just about cost, cleanliness, or comfort level — it’s about connecting with an experienced pro who’s able to evaluate your anatomy and create a design that enhances your unique features.
Developing the ideal lash look is more complicated than it may seem. A lash extension artist must consider everything from eye shape and lid height/depth to natural lash length, texture, curl, and direction. Oh, and then there is the client’s desired result to consider. This is especially true for clients of Asian descent and those with monolid or hooded eyes. To learn more, we talked to Mydygma Nimbueva, a premiere lash specialist and owner of Beautyful Lashes Salon in Beverly Hills.
The Relationship Between Lash Extensions & Eye Shape
Eye shape plays a big role in lash extension techniques, and this is particularly true for clients with monolid and hooded eyes. “As an Asian lash artist and educator, who also wears lash extensions, it’s very easy for me to understand our struggles and our needs,” Nimbueva shares. “A lot of Asian women try to find an Asian hairstylist who knows how to work with Asian hair and a makeup artist who specializes in Asian makeup because our faces and our beauty is different.”
Technically, there are a half dozen different classifications for the Asian eyelid, but Nimbueva breaks it down more simply:
- Monolid: This is an eyelid without a visible crease. There are variations within this category, Nimbueva explains, with some lids closed along the entire eye, some closed toward the beginning (near the nose) and more open at the outer corner, and some with a combination.
- Partial Monolid: Eyelids that show only a portion of the crease are known as half, partial, or demi monolids. “In the majority of cases, these eye shapes are a little bit asymmetric,” Nimbueva says. “We can correct that with different styling on each eye.”
- Open Eye: Open eyelids have a distinct crease that visibly separates the lower and upper portions of the eyelids. This can be either genetic (“I have an open eye type,” Nimbueva says.) or obtained via blepharoplasty — one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures in Asia.
And then there is the growth pattern of the lashes themselves. Nimbueva explains that having lush locks on the head (“we are blessed with great hair,” she quips) doesn’t necessarily translate to the brows and lashes. Women of Asian descent often have sparse brows and fragile, straight lashes (short or long in length) that grow downward. It’s not hard to understand then why many Asian women turn to lash extensions as a semi-permanent substitute for traditional eye makeup, like mascara, strip lashes, and eyeliner.
Lash Extension Techniques
It’s clear when talking to Nimbueva that applying eyelash extensions is a combination of both art and science. Each look is highly customized to the individual client, but there are some commonalities she’s noticed over the years. “Forty percent of my clients are Asian,” Nimbueva estimates. “Some prefer a really natural, almost flat curl that is a little bit thicker than her natural lashes.” The second group, she explains, is just the opposite. “Those women who aren’t blessed with long, strong, curly lashes and want to feel like they’re maximizing their investment want a very long, very full, almost mega-volume technique.”
- Classic Technique: Traditionally, the most subtle, natural looking lash extensions use a 1:1 ratio, where a pro glues one individual lash extension onto each natural lash.
- Russian Volume/Megavolume Technique: This ultra-lush look is achieved by creating a “fan” of multiple lashes (anywhere from two to 16) that is paired with one individual natural eyelash. “A megavolume look can be amazing on Asians with monolids,” Nimbueva says. “It can cover the monolid if we choose the right length and can create the illusion of the open eye.” Those with small, round eyes, however, should avoid megavolume, as it can make the eyes appear even smaller.
- Doll Eye: This look focuses the attention on the center of the eye. The longest eyelash extensions are placed at the center of the eye, and the length gradually decreases towards the corners. This shape is best for almond-shaped eyes because “a doll eye look on round eyes makes them look smaller,” Nimbueva notes.
- Cat Eye: The longest lashes are placed towards the outer corner of the eye to achieve an elongated appearance, and it’s ideal for those with round and small eyes.
- Asian Eyelid Lift: Nimbueva is uniquely trained in the method developed in Kazakhstan by lash pioneer Malika Nauryzova, which creates a ‘double lid’ look on a monolid, without eyelid surgery. It also works well on slightly hooded and aging eyes, because it gives a little bit of lift. Due to the added complexity, this treatment takes three to four hours.
Anecdotally, Nimbueva notes that she has noticed sensitivities and allergic reactions (most commonly to cyanoacrylate, the main ingredient in lash glue) are less common among her Asian clients.
Lash Extension Types
Because the lash extension industry isn’t regulated, Nimbueva warns that the same false lash type produced by different manufacturers will vary. If you’re aiming for a specific look, it’s best to defer to your lash specialist.
To achieve a natural effect, Nimbueva relies primarily on three lash extension types. “C is the most classic curl in lash extensions, more of a natural curl,” she explains. “J and B curl is a flatter curl.” For clients with open eye types looking for a more dramatic effect (and lots of volume), CC curl and D curl tend to offer the best results. Those with downward-facing lashes, meanwhile, benefit from L+ curl extensions because they have “a longer leg and an extreme curl that goes up,” she says. But that doesn’t mean they are for everyone. L+ lashes may feel heavy and can twist as they grow out.
To avoid weighing down the natural lashes, Nimbueva favors very fine eyelash extensions — those with a thickness of 0.03 millimeters. These lashes, particularly in a CC curl, create a “very natural, wispy, feathery look,” she shares. Her preferred L+ curl lashes are just a fraction thicker at 0.05 millimeters. For perspective, most salons in the U.S. use extensions that range from 0.10 to 0.15 millimeters. The ultra-light lashes tend to be favored by elite pros to create more volume without weight, though you’ll pay a bit more for the service.
No matter your eye shape and eyelash type, it is important to find a professional who has extensive training treating clients with similar needs. Nimbueva says that any reputable lash artist will ask you about your goals and ideas during your consultation. “I often end up doing a combination that elongates and opens up the eyes at the same time,” she explains. In her experience, clients are extremely loyal once they find a lash pro who really understands their unique anatomy and objectives. “I educate and make it fun for them,” Nimbueva explains. “Each of my clients is her own designer. She can’t stop looking at herself in the mirror afterwards — it gives her a boost of self confidence.”
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