I’ll be totally honest with you here: I wasn’t going to write this post.
I mean, when I decided to start a series called, “I Try It So You Don’t Have To,” I knew there would be the occasional embarrassment along the way: things I didn’t like, or that didn’t work out. And that was the whole point, obviously: to give a totally honest account of some of the products or treatments that people are curious about, but reluctant to try for themselves. So, I figured I’d take one for the team, and give them all a go, and if it all went horribly wrong, well, at least we’d know, right?
This one, however?
This one went SO horribly wrong that I seriously considered just pretending it didn’t happen. Not writing about it. Not even MENTIONING it. Swearing all who knew about it to secrecy, and then just erasing it from my mind.
But what would be the fun in that, I ask myself?
So, I’m going to tell you the story of that one time I got Russian Volume Eyelash extensions, slightly against my better judgement. I’m going to have to ask you to brace yourselves first, though, because remember that time I tried magnetic eyelashes? This is worse than that. And remember the time I let my husband do my makeup? It’s worse than that, too. I really wish I was joking here. But I tried it so you don’t have to: and here’s what happened….
I think the first thing I’d like to say in my defence here is that I’m no stranger to semi-permanent eyelash extensions. As I mentioned in this post, I get them done every time I travel, and I actually ended up having them for around 8 weeks this summer: I got a full set fitted right before our trip to Kent, then just kept getting infills every couple of weeks to maintain them. It was awesome, seriously: I woke up every morning with long, fluttery eyelashes, and I didn’t have to do a single thing to keep them that way, which really appealed to my lazy side. Honestly, if I had the time and the money, I’d have them all the time, but, sadly for me, I have neither, so I was forced to stop.
I get my lashes done by a local woman who has her own salon, and she does a great job of making them look “done” without looking totally ridiculous, so, the first thing I did when we booked our last-minute trip to Tenerife last month was to contact her and ask for an appointment. (No, seriously, it was LITERALLY the first thing I did – like, I’m pretty sure I told the eyelash woman about my holiday before I even told my parents…)
That’s when the bad news came: The Lash Lady, as I call her (Which is stupid of me, really, because her name is Coreen…) was going on holiday too – the week before I was. She couldn’t do my lashes – which was a blow, sure, but not the end of the world, because surely there were other Lash Ladies nearby who’d be able to step into the breach, as it were?
Well, I did a quick Google, and, sure enough, a few local salons came up, all offering semi-permanent eyelash extensions. Time was of the essence here, so I called the one with the most professional looking Facebook page, and asked if they could fit me in a couple of days before my holiday.
“Is it the classic lashes you want or the Russian Volume?” asked the girl on the end of the phone.
I was thrown. I’d always just asked for “eyelash extensions” before, and, although I HAD heard of Russian Volume lashes, I had only a vague idea of what they were.
So, obviously that’s what I asked for.
In my defence, I… have no real defence, actually. I just thought it might be fun to try something a bit different, and, well, I WAS going to be away on holiday, after all, so if I didn’t exactly love it, at least no one I knew would see me. And how bad could it be, really? <FORESHADOWING>
Once I’d gotten off the phone, though, I did have a quick Google to see what I was letting myself in for, and nothing I saw put me off. I discovered that Russian Volume Lashes differ from regular eyelash extensions in that, rather than fitting one eyelash extension to each of your natural lashes, the Lash Lady fits multiple extensions to each one: hence the “volume” part. Well, this sounded just dandy to me, so, as I drove to the salon, around 40 hours before my flight, I was already planning to go back in two weeks time to have them topped up for Christmas – and maybe one more time after that, because THAT’S how good this was going to look, I just KNEW it.
Here’s a photo of my hopeful, makeup-free face, taken in the car right before my appointment, with the intention of using it as a ‘before’ shot:
(I’d just had my microblading top-up the day before, which is why my eyebrows look weird here, too. That was the least of my worries, though…)
My intention here had actually been to post this on Instagram Stories, and then follow it up with the ‘after’ shot, so everyone could be amazed and impressed by my Bambi-like eyelash transformation, but I ended up spending so much time faffing around with Instagram filters that I ran out of time and didn’t post it. I was to be glad of this fact later. <MORE FORESHADOWING.>
Right at that moment, though, I was still innocent and filled with the hope that my lashes – and thus my life – were about to get significantly better – so I headed into the salon, and was immediately shown into a treatment room. So far, so good. I was just over an hour away from having perfect eyelashes, so I lay back, closed my eyes, and attempted to relax, even although there’s really nothing more awkward to me than lying on my back and attempting to make small-talk with a complete stranger who’s poking around my face. Just me? Thought so…
The Lash Lady, however (Yeah, I’ve no idea what the correct terminology is for someone who does eyelash extensions: sorry…) was very nice and professional, and the treatment itself felt no different from any other eyelash application I’ve had, so I lay there and let her get on with it, while mostly just thinking about my upcoming holiday. It took roughly an hour to do both eyes – which surprised me slightly, as I’d wrongly assumed that more volume would equal more time – and, before long, I was sitting up, while the Lash Lady went to get a mirror. Or, at least, that’s what I ASSUMED she was doing, so I was really quite puzzled when, a few minutes later, she came back and showed me a life-sized photo of a pantomime dame – one with huge, fake looking eyelashes, that look like they’ve been applied in the dark.
I smiled politely, wondering what the joke was … then the pantomime dame smiled too, and all of a sudden, I realised the horrible truth: THAT WAS NO DAME I WAS LOOKING AT. THAT WAS ME.
I’ll just give you a few minutes to let this sink in, shall I?
Now, I have absolutely no way of knowing whether the actual application of these lashes is good, bad, or indifferent, really. I mean, if I had to guess, I’d go with REALLY, REALLY BAD. Like, OMGSOBAD. But I suspect at least some of you might be looking at the photo above and thinking, “Well, what the hell did you EXPECT, woman?” so I’ll just quickly defend myself here by pointing out that, while my decision to get Russian Volume Lashes was a spontaneous one, it wasn’t a totally uninformed one. I mean, I’d consulted Google before my appointment, so I thought I knew roughly what to expect. I wasn’t, for instance, expecting the results to be subtle, or, indeed, particularly natural looking. It’s not really the point of Russian Volume Lashes, is it? No, I thought I’d probably look like I’d had my lashes done – and I was totally fine with that, because, like I said, I was off on holiday, and I thought it might be fun to have crazy-long lashes for a week or so.
And I guess that’s exactly what I got, right? Well, they WERE long, and they WERE crazy. Just… not in a way that looks even remotely good to me. Because, to me, this just looks like I’m wearing a gigantic set of false eyelashes, which I’ve applied really badly – and, if that was the look I was going for, God knows, I could just have BOUGHT a gigantic set of false lashes and applied them really badly, couldn’t I?
So, yeah: I wasn’t thrilled, really. In fact, the second I looked into the mirror, I knew for certain that I wasn’t going to be able to live with these lashes. So, I did what any very British person would do under the circumstances: I thanked the Lash Lady profusely, paid up and left. I think the word, “WOW!” might have left my mouth, in fact.
(Actually, that’s not quite true: I thanked her profusely, then, when I tried to pay by card, she huffed a bit and told me the salon didn’t accept debit cards, so I walked to the ATM in the pouring rain (Which I was actually quite grateful for, because it gave me an excuse to pull the hood of my jacket over my face…), withdrew the cash, and walked back to the salon, still in the pouring rain. Then I thanked her AGAIN, paid up and left. I hate myself, seriously.)
Once in the car, I risked a quick glance in the mirror, just to confirm that the lashes really were as bad as I’d thought they were, and that it wasn’t just the lighting in the salon or something.
THEY REALLY WERE AS BAD AS I’D THOUGHT THEY WERE. GOD.
By the time I’d driven home, though, I’d started to convince myself I was over-reacting. It was probably just the shock of seeing such a big difference in my lashes, I told myself. Or the fact that I wasn’t wearing any other makeup. Because, it’s not really the kind of look that works without a ton of mascara on the bottom lashes, at the very least, is it?
Feeling slightly reassured, I pulled into the driveway, and had another look in the mirror:
FFS, PEOPLE, SERIOUSLY.
I really didn’t want to face the inevitable teasing I knew I’d get from Terry when he seen me like this, but living in the car didn’t seem like a good idea either, so I headed inside to get it over with.
“But… WHY?” asked Terry, once he’d stopped laughing. “Why didn’t you just tell her you didn’t like it, and get her to do something to fix it?”
It’s a fair question, and one that has two answers: the first one simply being that I’m a freaking coward – and also the kind of British person who will put up with pretty much anything, rather than come across as difficult. Like, if you ran me over, say, I’d probably apologise for being in the way. Just a few months ago, I accidentally opened the dishwasher door when it was in the middle of its washing cycle: “Oooh, sorry!” I gasped, slamming it shut again, as if I’d caught the dishwasher in a private moment, which it might find embarrassing. I apologised to my DISHWASHER, people. Seriously: do I REALLY sound like the kind of person who’d complain to the nice woman who’d just spent an hour gluing (terrible) false eyelashes onto my lids? I think not. And, the fact was, I’d asked for Russian Volume Lashes, and she’d given me Russian Volume Lashes. It wasn’t HER fault that they made me look like I was about to appear in a low-budget panto as one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, was it?
(Random aside, but are we even allowed to reference Cinders’ ugly sisters these days, or has that story been updated to feature Cinderella’s Actually-Beautiful-Because-We’re-All-Beautiful Sisters, instead?)
“This will look much better when it’s dark,” said Terry, going back to his task of hanging the Christmas lights. My heart leapt in hope. Of course! I was just about to travel to a hot, sunny island: I’d be able to wear sunglasses all day, and then at night it would be dark, and the lashes wouldn’t look so bad!
“Do you really think so?” I asked, hopefully, choosing to overlook the fact that my husband had apparently just told me I’d look better in the dark.
“Oh, I was talking about the Christmas lights!” he answered, chuckling to himself. “No, nothing will make your eyelashes look better: sorry!”
We DID give it a try, though. Ten minutes later, Max had gone down for his afternoon nap, and Terry and I were standing in the bathroom, while Terry used a pair of nail scissors to try to trim my false lashes down to a more reasonable length. “It’s not just the length,” though, I wailed. “It’s the VOLUME! You’d have to, I dunno, maybe try to feather them a bit, too?”
This, however, was beyond Terry’s pay grade, so he handed over the scissors, and I had a go myself.
The lashes still looked terrible: and, not only did they LOOK terrible, they FELT terrible, too. There were so many lashes glued on that my eyelids literally felt weighed down by them: they were heavy and scratchy feeling, and I knew there was no way I’d comfortably be able to wear my sunglasses with them. They just felt horribly uncomfortable, basically, so, realising I was out of options, I once again hit up Google, and started frantically calling other salons in the area to see if anyone could fit me in for a last-minute lash removal/re-application.
NO, was the unsurprising answer to that one. Well, it was late Friday afternoon by that stage, and we were leaving for the airport at 7am on Sunday morning. That just left Saturday, and, of course, every salon and freelancer I called was booked solid.
Which left me with just one option: I’d have to remove the damn things myself.
It was at this stage, however, that my luck turned, because – and please don’t yell at me for this – it just so happens that I had a bottle of false eyelash remover in stock from the last time I’d had my usual extensions done, back in the summer. Yeah, yeah, I know these things should only ever be used by professionals, but honestly: I was just too impatient to wait for my last set to fall out on their own, and too lazy to drive to a salon and pay someone to do it for me. So I bought a bottle of remover fluid, and je ne regrette rein, because, around 20 minutes later, I had a sink full of Russian Volume Lashes, my own lashes were, once again, triumphantly average (One small blessing here: at least the extensions didn’t take any of my own lashes with them when they came out!), and I was opening up my suitcase to add mascara and eye makeup remover to my travel makeup bag. GAH.
On the plus side, I now no longer LOOKED as stupid as I felt. On the minus side, though, I can’t even begin to tell you how stupid I felt for having spent so much time and money on having eyelash extensions fitted for JUST OVER AN HOUR. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? (Oh, and I was also really freaking annoyed that I was now NOT going to have the low-maintenance holiday look I was after, and would, instead, be stuck layering on mascara every day again…) And, I should probably add here – OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER INCOMING – that I accept full responsibility for the mess that this little experiment turned out to be, because I did the absolute minimum of research into this particular salon, or its track record in this kind of treatment. In my defence, when I called to book the appointment, I intended just to go for my usual ‘Classic Lashes’ – it was only when the option of volume lashes was offered to me that I thought, “Hey, why not?”
Well, I’ll tell you why not: because volume lash application, it seems, is a bit of a specialised skill – it requires far more training and expertise than regular eyelash extensions, which is why it’s particularly important that you do your research, and make sure you’re having it done by someone who really knows their stuff. So, shop around, ask to see photos of the Lash Lady/Man’s previous work – in short, do all of the things I’d normally have done myself if I wasn’t in a little bit of a last-minute panic, trying to find someone to fit me in before my holiday. In this case, my gamble didn’t pay off: even if the lashes HAD been applied properly, though, I’m not convinced they’d have been the right look for me anyway, because it’s a LOT of look, basically.
That’s not, of course, to say it won’t be for ANYONE: so, just to be clear, I’m not publishing this post to convince you that Russian Volume eyelash extensions will always be an unmitigated disaster – nope, I’m just doing it to point out that not all treatments will work for everyone, and that, if you’re thinking of having something like this done, that’s something to take into consideration. I mean, if you’re the kind of glamour-puss who always has a full face of makeup – complete with Kardashian-level contouring, and one of those white highlighter lines down your nose – even at 7am on a Tuesday morning, you could probably rock the volume lash look, no problem. As for me, though, well, I’m a middle-aged mum who just wanted to be able to go mascara-free on holiday. I think I can see now where I went wrong here…
If you’re thinking this is the end of my eyelash extension days, though, think again: I’ll definitely be getting another set before my next trip – I’ll just be sticking to my usual, much more subtle look (a.k.a. ‘Classic lashes’), and going back to my usual Lash Lady. I’ll probably keep a hold of that lash remover, too…