I wanted to write this guide on false eyelashes (a.k.a. strip lashes, falsies, fake lashes) to share what they are and how to apply them the right way so that you can achieve the look you desire, but most importantly, avoid damaging your natural eyelashes in the process.
Let’s face it, falsies have been around for a long time – I’ve used them for more than a decade now. Even with all the other innovations the industry has brought (individual lashes, magnetic lashes, DIY lashes) false lashes still have a place in my tool kit for certain occasions.
This post covers all of the common questions and concerns about strip lashes that I get asked from my clients. From lash safety to my favorite brands, it’s everything you’ll need to know.
Let’s get started!
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What Are Strip Lashes?
Strip lashes are pre-made false lashes made of individual fibers attached to a flexible strip. They adhere to the eyelid skin at the base of the lash line with a specially formulated adhesive. False eyelashes help frame the eyes and create the illusion of naturally longer and fuller eyelashes.
All good right?
Well yes in theory. Make sure to keep reading my application method that will preserve the health of your natural eyelashes.
Over the years, I’ve seen several horror stories of people ruinning their lashes with this product. I just want to make sure you’re not the next one.
What Are Strip Lashes Made Of?
Strip lashes are usually made of a synthetic material called PBT (short for polybutylene terephthalate). Most lash extensions on the market are made of this material. It’s possible to get real human hair or mink hair, but it’s very uncommon. These natural fibers are harder to handle and don’t last as long.
The lash band that holds the false eyelashes is usually made of black-dyed cotton or a synthetic, clear material. Cheaper lash bands might be made of plastic, which hurts their flexibility.
If you want to know more about the materials used, make sure to read my guide on the different lash extension types and what they are made of.
How to Apply Strip Lashes
At first, I couldn’t really get my falsies to look how I wanted them to be. But with a bit of practice and the right steps, you can get it just right.
Keep in mind that the best time to apply them is at the end of your makeup routine after you’ve already applied your eyeshadow but not your mascara! Mascara will be used to seamlessly blend your natural lashes and the false eyelashes at the end (see the last step below).
So here are the basic steps to apply strip lashes:
- Pull the strip lashes out of the container carefully. Most manufacturers will apply a very thin layer of glue to the lash band so that the false lashes stick to the tray. I like to use my thumb to gently remove them from the tray. The key is to cover as much surface area of the fake lashes with your thumb as possible. This will distribute the pulling force on the entire band instead of just a few lashes, thus preventing damage.
- Peel off the remaining glue from the lash band using your fingers.
- With your fingers, carefully curve the lash band inwards to loosen it up and ensure it lines up with the curve of your lash line.
- Next, bring the fake eyelashes against your lash line, so that they sit above your natural lashes. This will allow you to plan your application and figure out at what angle you want the lashes to sit. You’ll probably discover that the lashes are a little too long for your lash line.
- Trim the lashes so that they fit your lashline more comfortably. Do this by snipping away a few clusters from the outer end of the strip lash – never from the inner corner. The fake lashes in the inner corner are much shorter and for good reason (your natural lashes are too). If you start trimming from the inner corner, you’ll end up having very long and thick falsies on your short and thin natural inner corner lashes.
- Check the placement one more time, making sure the lashes line up comfortably with the inner corner of your eye.
- Apply adhesive in a thin layer along the land band, making sure it’s even. I like to use blunt tweezers to apply the lash glue. I don’t recommend using the glue tube directly (by squeezing the glue out) since it’s very hard to control the amount of glue that way.
- Wait for the adhesive to become tacky – this usually takes about 30 seconds to 2 minutes but can vary from brand to brand. In my experience, this is the number 1 reason for failure with strip lashes. If you try to apply them while the glue is too wet, the band will just slip and you won’t be able to keep it where you want it. On the other hand, if it’s too dry, it just won’t hold. So finding that sweet “tacky” spot takes some practice.
- Once the glue is sticky, apply the falsies carefully so they attach to the skin at the base of your lash line rather than your lashes. This concept is key. You should never, never, never have your natural eyelashes hold the weight of the strip lashes. Doing so is a clear path to eyelash damage. Instead, the skin of your eyelids must carry the weight.
- Adjust the positioning of your lashes if needed, and press them on your eyelids using your fingers to ensure a good attachment.
- Once you’re confident your lashes are glued down, blend them into your natural lashes. You can do this by pressing your lashes and the falsies together between your fingers, or with the help of a pair of tweezers. I also like to use mascara to fully marry them together, but keep in mind it’ll make cleaning your false lashes a little tougher.
- If necessary, use black eyeliner to carefully blend the band of the lash into your lash line and the rest of your makeup. You can use a liner to cover a clear lash band if you’re wearing darker eye makeup, or just apply it along the corners to blend in a dark lash strip.
I really like this video from Alexandra Anele. She shows a fantastic example of the process in action:
How Long Do Strip Lashes Last?
Althought you might find advice online stating you can keep your false eyelashes on for several days, I strongly discourage it. An application of strip lashes should only be kept for one day.
Keeping them in place for longe is a recipe for lash damage, irritation, and even eye infection. For the safety of your eyes, treat strip lashes like you would any other makeup product, and take them off at the end of the day.
Having said that, you can totally reuse them several time. With proper care and cleaning, a single pair of false eyelashes can last for multiple wears. The more durable and well-made the lashes, the more re-uses they can accommodate.
Some brands claim that their lashes can be reworn up to 25 times, but I don’t recommend reusing them more than 10 times. I don’t think the additional risks are worth saving a few dollars since most falsies are rather inexpensive.
Do Strip Lashes Damage Real Lashes?
Yes, strip lashes can damage your natural lashes, especially with improper application or removal. That said, if you’re diligent and careful, they shouldn’t pose a risk.1
Make sure to clean and disinfect your strip lashes after every use, to avoid introducing bacteria or other pathogens so close to the eyes. Otherwise, you run the risk of experiencing eye infection or irritation.
Consider patch-testing the glue you’d like to use since adhesive allergies (from both latex and latex-free formulas) are quite common. To do so, I generally dispense a small amount of glue on the back of my hand and wait a few minutes. An allergic reaction would be evident by the reaction of your skin.
Once it’s time to remove the lashes, you can’t just peel them off – that’s how you end up pulling out your own natural lashes. Use makeup remover to dissolve the lash glue which will allow the strip lashes to come off more easily.
Are Strip Lashes Better Than Lash Extensions?
Strip lashes aren’t better or worse than lash extensions – they’re very different!
Strip lashes are like any other makeup product that goes on at the start of the day and comes off at night. Lash extensions are a professional service that can last for up to 4 weeks. With touch-up appointments, you can keep your extensions indefinitely.
If you’re after long-lasting results with minimal day-to-day fuss, lash extensions are the better choice. They’re totally customizable and can keep you looking incredible on a daily basis.
Wearing heavy eye makeup with lash extensions can be a little tricky since you have to avoid oils and water-proof formulas, so many women actually choose them to enhance the eyes without the need for makeup.
On the other hand, strip lashes are perfect for those who love to change their makeup from day to day, or who only enjoy a more dramatic look once in a while. They require more day-to-day effort, but they do offer more versatility, and they can be worn with every type of makeup product.
Pros and Cons
Still unsure whether you want to try falsies? Here’s a quick but detailed summary of their pros and cons, to help you decide.
- Fast. Get fuller and longer lashes within just a few minutes.
- Convenient. You can apply them at home all by yourself.
- Varied. Find endless styles for every mood, eye shape, and occasion.
- Apply them on a whim and easily change up your look from day to day.
- Reusable. As long as you clean and take care of them, strip lashes can often be reused up to 10 times.
- Affordable. While expensive strip lashes exist, there are many quality affordable options
- Blendable. Strip lashes tend to blend into the lash line well – especially if you choose lashes with a thin, flexible band.
- Glamorous. Strip lashes pair well with all kinds of makeup products, and look great with heavy makeup.
- Temporary. They’re not ideal if you want a lasting look.
- Not very easy to apply. You’ll need to practice.
- Removal can feel odd and awkward. You’ll need to use makeup remover and be careful not to peel off your natural lashes.
- Damage. Improper removal can damage your lash line. An improper application where the weight of the false lashes is carried by the natural lashes instead of the eyelid can also cause damage.
- Might be heavy for some.
- Adhesive allergies can be a problem.
Best Strip Lashes
If you’d like to add a set or two of strip lashes to your arsenal, here are some brands whose lashes I enjoy.
House of Lashes
House of Lashes has a beautiful range of different lashes at a mid-range price point. Their Iconic lashes are best-sellers with a spiky, criss-crossing cat-eye design that’s very noticeable without being heavy.
Ardell is a famous, budget-friendly brand that has been around for a long time. Their Wispies and Demi Wispies are some of the most popular strip lashes in the world. Personally, I don’t like them very much, since I find that the lash tips are a little too blunt. I prefer Ardell’s newer designs, like the Faux Mink 812 which has a softer, fluffier look.
Lilly Lashes come pretty close to mimicking the mega volume lash extension technique, with some very dramatic styles. The style Miami in Faux Mink is a good example of this, with incredibly thin faux mink lashes stacked together to create a voluminous, dramatic style with a lot of length distribution.
As you know, I’m a certified lash artist and I’m specialized in individual lash extensions. So you could say I’m completely biased when saying that nothing beats individual lashes when it comes to the end result. They give you complete control over your design and truly natural-looking eyelashes.
That said, strip lashes deserve their place in the lash world! They can be a lot of fun to play with, especially if you like to change your look from day to day. Applying them is not hassle-free, but it’s also not extremely difficult.
But as a lash professional, I do want to urge you to be cautious. Anything that comes so close to your eye needs to be clean. It’s especially important you don’t leave strip lashes on for too long, and that you only use adhesives from reputable brands.
So let me know, what are your thoughts on strip lashes? Do you have a brand you love? Do you find that they’re too bothersome to be worth it? Leave your comments below!
– Asako 🙂
1. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Use Eye Cosmetics Safely. Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/use-eye-cosmetics-safely [Accessed 12th January 2023].
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Asako Ito is the Co-Founder of Divine Lashes and a certified eyelash stylist. She has garnered acclaim for her cutting-edge techniques in the lash industry.
Holding multiple certifications and licenses, including Luxury Eye, THE LASH SHOP, World Microblading, and The Lash Bible, she has a constant thirst for knowledge. These credentials reflect her commitment to excellence and staying at the forefront of lash and brow artistry.
With over 10 years of experience, Asako continuously increases her knowledge both as a technician and educator by collaborating with top lash artists worldwide. You can read her full bio here.