I have seen the horrible damage cluster lashes can do to your natural more times than I can count. You can easily find tutorials on social media without even knowing the difference between cluster eyelashes and individual eyelash extensions.
In this article, I’ll explain what cluster lashes are so that you can run away as fast as you can if your stylist proposes this method. And if you’re into DIY lash extensions, there are many safer alternatives.
Let’s dive in!
What Are Cluster Lashes?
Cluster lashes (also known as flares) are a group of 5-10 lashes bound together at the base with a small amount of glue. They allow for a much quicker application time since you are essentially gluing a “fan” of lashes rather than one at a time.
Cluster eyelashes are generally sold in packs at beauty supply stores and are meant to be a temporary lash option.
This type of lash extension was popular over 10-15 years ago but has now been replaced with much safer alternatives for your natural eyelashes.
Here’s an example of what cluster lashes look like.
You typically have 5 to 10 fairly thick extensions of 0.15 mm diameter, tied together at the base. The fan-shaped “flares” were glued onto 2 to 3, sometimes more, natural lashes.
For example, using 10 cluster lashes that are made of 10 thick extensions would result in 100 extensions attached to one eye.
It was a quick way to achieve great density in a short period of time.
Many lash salons loved it because it would increase the number of clients they can take. This meant an increase in sales while achieving a dramatic look.
Everything was beautiful under the sun. Or maybe not…
Why Are Cluster Lashes Bad for You?
Cluster lashes will damage natural lashes because they are too heavy and attached to multiple natural lashes at once. When the cluster lash falls off, it will pull out natural eyelashes causing thinning and bald spots over time.
Moreover, where flares are glued on multiple natural eyelashes, they interfere with the growth cycle of lashes. This prevents an eyelash from growing freely and will cause eyelash loss in the long-run.
Back in the day, the eyelash extensions industry was still new, and most eyelash stylists had no knowledge of the eyelash growth cycle and how natural lashes could potentially be damaged through eyelash extension procedures.
Some salons and uneducated eyelash stylists still use this technique today, but thankfully, it’s becoming increasingly uncommon.
Some eyelash stylists claim that cluster lashes do not cause any damage because of the technique they use, but because of the weight of the “fan”, the damage to the natural lashes is inevitable even if the flare is carefully attached to only one natural lash.
No matter what technique one uses, flares will cause thinning of the lashes if a client were to wear them continuously for a few months.
Cluster Lashes vs Individual Eyelash Extensions
Volume lashes, like cluster lashes, are multiple eyelashes attached together to form a fan.
The ressemblence ends here…
Volume fans are much safer than cluster lashes since they are lighter and applied to one single natural lash at a time.
A volume fan uses 2 to 5 extensions with a diameter of 0.05 to 0.07 mm and could even use 6 to 16 extensions with a diameter of 0.03 to 0.05 mm for mega volume.
This means the total weight of a volume fan is much smaller than the weight of a cluster eyelash fan.
Moreover, volume lashes have a much stronger and longer bond time. As you can see in the picture below, a volume fan will surround the natural lash and therefore enjoy a higher surface bonding area.
On the other hand, cluster lashes will not surround the natural eyelash. Insead, they are simply glued on a surface.
Finally, volume fans give a much cleaner finish than cluster lashes.
Pro Tip: Check out my complete guide on volume and mega volume lashes here!
Real-Life Horror Story
I cannot tell you how many times we’ve heard:
“You guys were fully booked so I went elsewhere because I didn’t want to not have lashes!”
“I was desperate for lashes so I went to a salon near my place…”
“I needed lashes for an event and so I went to this place in the mall.”
“I thought doing them at the nail salon would be convenient because I would get everything done in one place.”
And every single time I make similar discoveries. Flares are used as “volume fans”, getting lashes applied with their eyes being pulled open (true story coming soon)…
A messy application…
Damage that will take months to repair.
A client came to Divine Lashes and had a similar phrase to the ones above and resorted to a different salon.
I immediately knew that she had visited elsewhere.
Many of her extensions were stuck together, and her lashes looked like pre-made fans. Below is an example of a flare we removed from her lashes.
This is not a fan.
We repeat: this is not a volume fan!
Well, this is not a proper fan, and this is also a sticky. So this was glued onto one natural lash. You can see they look pretty bulky because they are thick.
Her natural lashes are indeed damaged, (sad face) and we had to remove her “fans” so her natural lashes would not be further damaged.
Pro Tip: Learn the 3 main reasons why lash extensions when done improperly can damage your natural lashes.
Her natural lashes did recover in two months and she was able to continue getting volume extensions.
Are cluster lashes safe?
No, cluster lashes are not safe. The excessive weight of the cluster lashes will pull on your natural lashes, causing them to fall out prematurely.
How long do cluster lashes take?
Cluster lashes take 15 minutes to apply for a full set. This is significantly faster than the time it takes to apply individual eyelash extensions.
How much do cluster lashes cost?
Cluster lashes cost $10 to $20 on average and can be found in most drugstores.
How long does cluster lashes last?
Cluster lashes are meant to last one day and should only be considered a short-term option.
How to remove cluster lashes?
Apply gel remover or a cream remover at the base of the cluster lash while making sure it doesn’t touch the skin. Wait for 5 minutes before gently removing them.
The Bottom Line
I hope you can now see the difference between cluster lashes and volume fans. More importantly, why this technique should not be used nowadays.
Have you had any bad experiences with cluster lashes? For technicians, have you had to remove those from your clients?
Let me know in the comments below!
– Asako 🙂
Interested in learning more about lash extensions?
Explore my related guides & tutorials:
Mega Volume Lashes Vs Volume Lashes
Do Eyelash Extensions Damage Your Eyelashes?
Classic vs Volume vs Hybrid Lashes
How to fine lash salon that does volume lashes?
Thank you for your comment! Here are a few things you can do when you are looking for a lash place. A referral from a friend is a great way to ask them questions and their experience. Check out their yelp or google business page, you can read through the reviews from other customers. You can also visit their website to get more information such as their values, services offered etc. I hope you’ll find a great place for your lashes!
Divine lashes located in Canada, I’m in California.
Thank you for your comment! That’s right, we are a located in Toronto and Montreal in Canada! 🙂
Yah not on Philly
I’m glad to know this technique is not used in Philly 😉
I’m a lash technician at Sara’s nail salon in East Bay Area in California. And I totally agreed that cluster is not healthy for your lashes. Individual give you more natural look as long as you have enough lashes to use. And volume sure give you the glam look
It’s awesome to get another lash stylist view on cluster lashes. Hopefully no one will use them ever again.
I’m a lash tech and I’ve never had a client come in with clusters. If they did how would I even remove them?
In recent years its rare to have clients come in with cluster lashes. If the clusters were applied with eyelash extension adhesive, you can either use a gel remover or a cream remover. Make sure that the clients eyes are closed the entire time. Coat the base of the cluster extensions with remover generously on the front and back. The remover should be applied without touching the skin. Allow that to sit for about 5 minutes, this will soften the bond. You will need to be patient as you will need to tackle the clusters layer by layer. Continue to reapply the remover as you need it! In my experience, a removal of a full set cluster lashes took me approx. 45 minutes! I hope this was helpful 🙂