This seems to be the no.1 thing new lash techs ask me, so I thought I'd spill the beans and list everything I do to gain superior retention for my clients here.
Retention Hack 1
Hardly ever do I use primer. So many lash techs tell me they are taught to prime before lashing, and that's it. But rarely in my experience does that cut it, and for many clients with normal lashes, priming can actually make their retention worse. But more on that later!
To ensure you are getting the absolute best bond you need to clean your clients lashes - and by this, I mean you need to cleanse them!
Just as you do with your face, you need to apply an appropriate cleanser, get the lashes all sudsy, give them a brush down to ensure all dirt, makeup, oil and grime is gone, and then rinse off the shampoo, and dry with tissues.
I'll put some links here so you know exactly what I use:
1. Remove makeup! As much as I instruct clients to come with makeup free eyes, I've got a few eyeliner lovers who need a quick wipe down prior to lashing. A couple of drops of oil free makeup cleanser on a lint free applicator sorts out the eyeliner without compromising the bond between the natural lash and extension.
The mousse created is rich and silky and I've had zero complaints from
my clients about stinging eyes. I've used this myself as a makeup remover
and it's absolutely great and not irritating. As a bonus it also is great for
keeping blepharitis at bay, and the tea tree oil can act as a primer, removing
the need to add additional chemicals to the eye area.
3. Scrub! I use both the lint free applicators and soft cleansing brushes to give the lashes a complete cleanse, brushing off any debris dirt and remaining makeup to ensure a completely clean canvas, perfect for lash application. These brushes are all disposable so a completely hygienic option.
It's very important you don't use tap water as the chemicals added to it can irritate your clients eyes and stick to the lashes, compromising the bond between the natural lash and extension.
5. If needed, you can prime, but as I stated above, I typically give this step a miss. The function of a primer is to strip off whatever could be on the natural lash, which is great if your client is makeup laden or has a very oily skin tone and you wish to be ultra certain that you have a clean canvas, but less great if your clients lashes are already clean. Primers are alcohol, and alcohols dehydrate the natural lash. The adhesives we use require moisture to cure, and if you've gone and removed all moisture from the natural lash, that adhesive is going to take even longer to cure, which can result in the lashes sticking together if you aren't babysitting each lash whilst it dries.
Retention Hack 2
Give your clients lash shampoo.
a - reinforce the fact that you care about the health of your clients lashes. This is paramount in this industry as we still are, completely, hopelessly, unregulated. People are doing botch jobs on every corner so you need to set yourself apart.
b - make you look super legit. Don't tell your client to go wash their lashes with baby shampoo. Let say you walked into a hair salon and got your hair colour touched up, a conditioning treatment and a fabulous blow wave. You're looking glam, feeling fab, go up to pay and ask the stylist what products to use to maintain the look you just spent a fortune obtaining (!!) and they told you to get any old bottle of shampoo from the supermarket. This response would make you a bit skeptical of their abilities.
You want the salon products to give you the salon results.
Your clients are the same.
c - increase their retention! This is a guarantee. If your client is applying makeup every day, working out, applying sunscreen (which is compulsory every day - yes you should be wearing it daily!) and just generally living life, gunk is going to accumulate in her lashes. You have increased the surface area of them by extending and thickening them so they are going to catch more gunk than before. This is going to wreck havoc on the adhesive if not removed, so you need to provided them with something to cleanse.
d - give you another profit stream. Once they run out of the sample chrissanthie you can sell them a foaming bottle, or a bottle of concentrate. I have more foaming cleansers coming so you'll have more options soon!
e - increase the likelihood of you being talked about - in a good way.
I get told by clients all the time about their friends who have been lashed elsewhere and how poor the retention is. The only point of difference my clients know of between them and their friends is that they have instructions to cleanse their lashes - and their friends don't.
They like to point out this difference to their friends who all seem to be baffled by the suggestion of shampooing their lashes. Of course the logic is sound - who wants dirty lashes? All you need to do is google blepharitis or lash mites and you'll be cleansing your lashes religiously - regardless of whether or not you have lash extensions!
Retention Hack 3
Switch out your old school classic lashes to flats.
My retention has shot through the roof since transitioning all clients to flat lashes.
The logic behind flat lashes is indisputable -
by taking a notch out of the upper and lower half of the extension, we have reduced the weight of the lash.
This means we can apply a thicker diameter to our clients natural lash without the added weight.
We are also increasing the bonding area of the extension to the natural lash, as the flat lash hugs the natural lash.
I stock three different types of flat lashes - my ultimate favourite are the ultrasoft split lashes (which are arriving in single length trays shortly) as they combine the thickness of a classic lash with a volume finish, as the tips are split, resembling a Russian volume fan. They are also, as the name suggests, ridiculously soft, meaning your clients will find them completely weightless to wear, and therefore the most comfortable eyelash extension experience ever. I adore stroking these lashes when I wear them on myself as they literally feel like silk.
Retention Hack 4
Refresh your adhesive every 15 minutes max.
The second the consistency changes, use a new drop.
Do not put the new drop on the old drop, you will ruin the new adhesive.
Live by this rule, especially with winter coming up.
Retention Hack 5
Work with the humidity and temperature within your room.
Different adhesives respond better to different humidity and temperate levels.
I use lady black as it tends to be more tolerant and I am not tolerate whatsoever so one of us had to give and it wasn't going to be me, so lady black is my go to. Whatever adhesive you use, be aware of it's optimum operating conditions and adjust to suit it - whether you do this by running a humidifier/dehumidifier or just working faster.
Retention Hack 6
Honestly, it may seem counter productive to suggest a serum to lash extension addicts but I swear, those who use a serum experience superior retention and have healthier lashes = better extensions and therefore superior lashing results.
Most serums typically work by holding the natural lash in it's telogen phase longer, meaning you have more full grown adult lashes to extension, and they will be hanging around for a decent amount of time.
Yay for no more fuzzy baby lashes!
Retention Hack 7
This is less of a hack and more of a helpful suggestion - get your clients to pre book.
Many of my clients find themselves picking their lashes if they go too long between fills - which of course is terrible for their lashes and worse for me because it makes my job that much harder.
Getting them to book before they leave ensures they know exactly when they are seeing you again, and are motivated to keep their investment looking good, and their fingers off their beautiful lashes!