Lash Extensions Vs. Lash Lifts: What's The Difference, And Which Is Right For You?

Everybody and their mother wants long lashes — or at least that's what the numbers say. Data shows that a whopping 106.05 million women in the U.S. alone used mascara in 2020, with the figure expected to climb up to 108.59 million in 2024.

But what's interesting is that mascara use is apparently on the decline despite the strong numbers, with many opting for other methods to boost the length of their lashes. "Mascara isn't dead, but yes, it's definitely taken a back seat," celebrity makeup artist Randall Mahnke-Tang told CNN. "It's all about false lashes and lash extensions now. Celebrities love them, but even the girl at the grocery store checkout is wearing a full set of lashes every day." And if not falsies or extensions, people opt for getting a lash lift, which is also a semi-permanent that makes your lashes look lengthier and fuller.

There is clearly a growing number of ways you can try to make your lashes appear more dramatic, but if you want the results to last more than a day, either a lift or eyelash extensions are your best bet. And it all boils down to the look you are after.

Lash extensions vs. lash lifts, breaking down the differences

Lash extensions and lash lifts are both semi-permanent methods for enhancing the look of your eyelashes, but with a lash lift, no artificial hair installation is involved. Instead, chemicals are applied to your lashes to "lift" and curl them up — enough that it lasts weeks. "It will be just like you've woken up with your favorite mascara already applied," Lucy Roberts, an esthetician at False Eyelashes, shared with Healthline.

Meanwhile, extensions involve adding individual synthetic hairs to your lids, making your eyelashes appear fuller than they are. They're applied in between your actual lashes one at a time using semi-permanent glue, and instead of straight to your skin, they're installed on top of existing lashes. Plus, you also have the option to select your preferred thickness, length, and curl, whereas, with a lift, you're technically only enhancing the look of your lashes.

If there's something the two have in common, though, it's their longevity. Both lash lifts and lash extensions last up to four to six weeks, depending on your daily activities and how you care for them. Typically, you don't have to do much maintenance with lash lifts, but with extensions, you have to wash and brush the fibers regularly.

How to choose between lash lifts and lash extensions

Both lash lifts and lash extensions make your lashes look more voluminous, but if you're having a hard time choosing between the two, you must first consider what type of look you're gunning for. According to Clementina Richardson, a celebrity lash expert, lifts are for those who want to appear more natural, while extensions can appeal to people who want a more dramatic look. "If you are looking to enhance your natural lashes and have no maintenance, a lash lift does the job," she told Bustle. "If you want more volume, tailored lashes for your eye shape, long-lasting, and don't mind the maintenance, lash extensions are perfect [for you]."

There's a difference in the cost, too, with lash lifts being more wallet-friendly than extensions. Last lifts can run you roughly $125 per lift at the minimum, but extensions require more dough, with some salons charging up to $300. There's a reason for the hefty price, however. Andrea Starr, the founder of Starr Beauty, explained to that extensions essentially act as a stand-in for eye makeup.

In short: if you don't want to put a dent in your pocket but still want your eyelash to look like it's been curled and made up, then lash lifts may be for you. But if you want to have more volume and don't mind the extra effort with upkeep, then extensions may be well worth the investment.