For both beginner and expert lash stylists, figuring out how to practice eyelash extensions is essential. I remember when I first started out (Yikes that’s a long time ago!), I practiced for weeks on my mannequin head before building the skills and confidence to take models and eventually paid clients.
In this post, I’ll explain how you can practice eyelash extensions no matter the circumstance. I’ll cover how to practice on a mannequin, explain what you can do if you don’t have one, and let you know about some of my favorite practice kits.
How to Practice Eyelash Extensions On a Mannequin
1– Set Up Your Mannequin
Start by setting up your mannequin in the area where you’ll be working. A lash bed is ideal, but a table that’s at a comfortable height can also work. Make sure the mannequin is at about your chest level when you sit, so you don’t have to bend over it as you practice.
Next, attach a silicone pad under the mannequin’s eyes, and attach a strip of “practice” lashes to each of the mannequin’s “eyes”.
To simulate natural lashes even better, I actually like to attach two layers of practice lashes instead of just one. Our lashes naturally grow in a few layers rather than just one, so this creates a much more realistic experience.
Finally, make sure you have all of your lashing equipment set up comfortably, just as you would have it organized if you were applying lash extensions to a client.
2– Practice Posture and Hold
With everything set up, take your time to practice your posture and use your tweezers. Make sure that your chair is close to the mannequin and that your arms are close to your body. As you work, make sure your wrists are supported, and use your mannequin’s forehead as rest points for your fingers.
Once you feel ready, you can use your tweezers to count your mannequin’s lashes – it’s a great way to warm up and ensure that you’re in a comfortable position.
For more tips, check out my guide to holding tweezers for lash extensions.
For a more comprehensive practice, take your time to plan how you’ll apply the lash extensions. You can use the pad on your mannequin to map out the different lengths you’ll use along each part of the lash line.
If you’d like to learn more about the styles you should learn to create, check out my article on eyelash extension styles.
4– Use Booster
Before you start lashing, apply a little bit of pre-treatment to your mannequin’s lashes. Adhesives don’t dry as quickly when applied to synthetic practice lashes. A pre-treatment will speed up the drying time, which will speed up your practice and also be in line with how quickly adhesives dry on porous natural lashes.
Finally, you’re ready to apply the lashes! Applying lashes on a mannequin is no different than applying them on a client. You’ll want to isolate the lashes, dip the extension lashes in the glue, and then apply. Rinse and repeat until you’re done!
Most stylists actually find that working on a mannequin is a little easier than on a client since the lashes are not as dense and isolation is much easier.
To see the practice in action, check out this video from Anastasia Lash Expert:
How to Practice Eyelash Extensions Without a Mannequin
1- Use Your Friends and Family
Even if you do own a mannequin, try to practice on people as often as possible. That kind of practice is invaluable in teaching you how to deal with different natural lash patterns and clients’ needs and preferences.
It’s best to start by asking your friends and family. Choose people who’ll understand that you’re just starting, and who will encourage you and get excited to help you grow your skills. The other benefit of practicing with people you know and love is that you’ll feel more comfortable with them.
Even so, remember to set up your station and work just as you would on a real client!
2- Find Models Online
Another fantastic option is to find models online. Local beauty enthusiast or hair and beauty model groups on Facebook can be very rich resources for connecting with people. You’ll find models who’d love to get lash extensions done and won’t mind going to someone less experienced.
When you post a call for models, make sure to mention your general location, the style you’d like to practice, and the date and time. Also mention if you’ll need the model to agree for you to take photos and whether you’d like the model to cover the cost of materials (and if so, say what the cost will be).
My favorite places to advertise for free models are on Craigslist, Facebook or Kijiji.
3- Use a Sponge
Round sponges can be useful specifically when you’re starting to practice volume lashes. All you need to do is dampen a flat, round makeup sponge. Then use it as your surface to lay down lashes, one by one along the perimeter.
The main benefit of this technique is that the visibility is amazing, especially for volume lashes. It lets you focus on making evenly-spaced, symmetrical fans without worrying about other aspects of lashing. That said, it’s not as good if you need to practice isolation or placement, and I also don’t think it’s useful at all for classic lashes.
4- Use Thread
If you want to focus on speed and precision when laying down lashes without worrying about isolation, sewing thread can be very helpful! Stretch a piece of thread over a cup or bowl, tape it down on both sides, and then use it to practice. This technique is useful for practicing both classic and volume lashes.
Some stylists like to try this practice method with a strand of hair that they pull off of a hair brush. Human hair is much closer in thickness to lash hair, but I think using thread is a more hygienic choice.
5- Use False Lashes
If you don’t have access to a mannequin, you can also apply extensions to strip lashes. For this, I recommend using cheap, simple strip lashes that aren’t too fluffy or criss-crossed.
Glue the strip lashes down on the side of a plastic cup, a ball, or any other small object. Then, isolate and apply lashes to the strip lashes, just as you would on a mannequin or human. This method doesn’t allow you to replicate your hand positioning quite as closely, but it’s still a great mannequin alternative in a pinch.
Best Eyelash Extension Kits for Practice
Yegi Beauty Kit Version 1
This kit from Yegi Beauty goes above and beyond, with everything a beginning lash stylist needs. It includes a very realistic mannequin, multiple trays of classic and volume lashes of varying lengths and curls, tweezers, accessories, and everything else a stylist requires to offer lash extensions professionally.
Veyes Classic Lash Kit For New Starters
If you don’t need a full eyelash extension kit, this starter set from Veyes is an excellent budget-friendly option. It comes with the bare essentials for practicing classic extensions at home, like a mannequin head, practice lash extensions, a tray of classic lashes, glue, tweezers, and a couple of under-eye pads.
The Lash Professional Eyelash Mannequin
If you already have all of your lashing essentials, this mannequin head will elevate your practice sessions. The hyper-realistic design has removable eyelids with lashes already attached, which simulates human lashes even better than the average mannequin with practice strips. I also appreciate that it comes in both a fair and deep skin tone.
Can you practice eyelash extensions on yourself?
Absolutely not. To apply your own eyelash extensions, you’d need to isolate your lashes from below with one eye closed. Even the most experienced lash stylists don’t have this level of control and dexterity. Even if this process was somehow possible, it doesn’t replicate how you’d work on clients.
How long does it take to practice eyelash extensions?
I think it’s best to practice applying full sets on humans or your mannequin regularly, which can take a couple of hours. It’s also beneficial to practice smaller aspects of lashing, even if it’s just for 10 or 15 minutes here and there. It usually takes a few months of practice for beginners to feel confident enough to charge the full price.
How often should you practice lash extensions?
You should practice daily, especially when you start your lashing journey. As your experience grows, practice is still essential. It will help you maintain and grow your skills or experiment with new techniques and styles.
The Bottom Line
With so many different ways to practice eyelash extensions, there’s no excuse not to! Even though I’ve been in the lash business for over a decade, I still love using my mannequin to practice new techniques or to play with new lash mapping ideas.
Adjust how you practice based on your time and needs! If you only have ten spare minutes in a day, that’s still much better than nothing. You can take your time to work on your weak points to become a more well-rounded lash stylist.
Have you come up with any creative methods for lashing? Do you have any questions about how to practice eyelash extensions? Leave a comment below and I’ll make sure to reply!
– Asako 🙂
Additional Readings on DivineLashes.ca: If you’re just starting your lash adventure, make sure to read my articles on the best eyelash beds, my favorite lash cleansers, and the lash light you should choose.