still from In the Mood for Love
Women in Taiwanese society are pushed to conform to these absurd beauty standards to a level that is probably rivalled – or exceeded by – Korea and Japan, but difficult to comprehend for someone who grew up in the States (even in the image-obsessed, materialistic province known as Los Angeles). Ultra-skinny frame, small waist, perfect white teeth, flawless porcelain skin, doll-like eyes fringed with Bambi lashes. We’re supposed to wear push-up bras to make our tits look amazing and slip on killer high-heels to show off our skinny legs. So all this grumbling to say that I myself am entirely a slave to these beauty standards – well, most of them. While I’ll have to draw the line on perfect porcelain skin, I’m down with the fake lashes. I like big lashes; I cannot lie. I marvelled at how the Taiwanese girls I saw around areas like 東區 could take the time to put them on every single day, and deal with the glue and the pulling and the general nuisance of it. Then I found out about EYELASH EXTENSIONS, where you lay down on a table while a lady glues 100 – 300 tiny individual eyelashes to your existing eyelashes, one by one. Then you no longer have to wear eyeliner or mascara and look I-woke-up-like-dis amazing, all the time.
Taipei has to be one of the cheapest places in the world for eyelash extensions. I did quick Google for eyelash extension features pieces and the prices were pretty mind-boggling. xoVain quotes US$125 at 45 lashes per eye – albeit for synthetic mink (people, this should be obvious but don’t be an asshat and get real mink lashes). I read in this DailyMail article that in the UK, prices hover around £100 pounds, with a £60 monthly maintenance. Insane.
I totally knew f-ck all about eyelash extensions before getting them done, so here’s a handy little primer on what I learned:
Eyelash extensions the second time ’round
WHAT SHOULD I KNOW BEFORE GETTING EYELASH EXTENSIONS?
• Eyelash extensions are a pretty big investment (boys, if you’ve made it this far, I’m sure you’re shaking your head in disbelief). The instinct will be to find a good bargain. HOWEVER – if you don’t go to a good place, you run the risk of your eyelashes in a major way. I personally know a girl who had them in for four years straight, and as a result lost all her eyelashes. It may not even have been the fact that her extensions were poorly done – four years is obviously a long time without giving your eyelashes a break; and of course each person reacts differently to extensions.
• Part of going to a reputable place is getting your extensions done by a trained technician that is realistic about assessing your natural lash type and what kind of extensions it can handle. If you’ve got ultra-fine, short lashes, you’re not going to be able to handle dramatic extensions without suffering damage (Ed note: the extensions are glued onto your natural lashes, lash by lash).
• Also, mink eyelashes are a thing, but if you’ve even got half of a soul you should know that not to get them, because – mink farms. (Here’s this link to an article, if you need to be convinced).
WHY DO I NEED TO GO BACK FOR MONTHLY MAINTENANCE?
• The lashes fall out, just like your real lashes do (you shed 1-3 real lashes a day, so you’ll just shed the lashes that are glued on as well). It’s inevitable, even if you’re careful (not using oil-based cleansers, not rubbing your eyes, not constantly applying and rubbing off eye makeup, sleeping on your back, ha).
• Most girls I know go back at least once a month to get them filled out again. This obviously sucks if you pay an ultra-cheap price in Taipei and then travel or move somewhere where it’s extremely expensive or impossible to maintain, so think about that. (i.e. never could have had extensions maintained when I was living in Stockholm). The maintenance obviously costs less than the initial set, but depending on what type of extension you choose, it can cost almost as much.
WHAT IS LASH THICKNESS AND LASH COUNT?
• Each salon varies in what they offer: the place I go to keeps it simple: they offer three types of lash thickness (all synthetic). I’m not sure if their medium lash option is in fact synthetic mink, but it’s more “realistic” looking in comparison to their thickest option, which just looks like you’re wearing falsies. As for lash counts (simply, how many lashes they attach) – they typically go by increments of 50, and my salon offers starting sets of 100, 150 and 200.
SO, WHAT DID YOU GET?
• I knew going in that I wanted dramatic extensions. The woman doing my extensions did a quick consultation with me before I chose lash type and count. My natural lashes are actually fairly thick and curly – meaning that I can support a thick lash type and a high lash count – but since I have a single eyelid, there’s just very little effect. I’ve always had to wear bold, liquid liner to make them pop.
• For my first set, I chose the thickest type of lash, 200 lashes. I also had the option of getting them extra long, extra curly – both of which I chose. Essentially, I chose the most dramatic lashes possible.
HOW MUCH DO EYELASH EXTENSIONS COST IN TAIPEI?
• I go to a no-frills salon that’s essentially a nondescript converted apartment, and only provides eyelash extensions services. Upscale, trendy salons are obviously going to cost more. I don’t care for fancy drinks and cutesy little mirrors as long as my lash technician does a good job, so I paid:
• Around NT$1500 for my first set (around US$45). My friend got 150 lashes at medium thickness and it was around NT$1300 – so the prices don’t vary that dramatically. I believe that this is considered cheap, even for Taipei. I have friends that go to fancier salons and pay around around NT$2500 for their sets.
SO, HOW DID IT WORK OUT?
• ALL MY EYELASHES FELL OUT!!! Jokes. They look great, but I’ve realised that getting such a dramatic option comes with a price: the length and type of lash I have makes it harder to keep in control; and once your eyelashes start falling out getting unruly, it’s way more noticeable than if you got a more subtle type of lash. This essentially just means that you have to go in for maintenance more often. I also got a little clear gel – I brush a tiny bit on my lashes when they’re getting too turnt.
• The second time I went in, the technician noted in awe that more than 70% of my lashes were still in (I tried to be super careful about not rubbing my eyes too much), but a lot of them were unruly and crooked due to the way I sleep (burying my face into the pillows). So – she had to take a lot out, I upped my lash count to 250, and again paid around NT$1500. Not cheap considering it’s a monthly expense, but still way cheaper than anything in the States.
• With my single eyelids (siiiiiigh) it just isn’t as dramatic as it is on other people, but that’s coo. I just love the fact that I don’t have to put on eyeliner anymore, and can roll out of bed looking fabulous and ready to take on life. To me, it’s definitely worth it.
There are so many places around the city. I’m going to try a few more places around the city in the future, so I’m combing through Yelp. I eventually want to try those ultra-fine 6D lashes where you can get lash counts of 500-600. But I do like the place I go to – the technicians know what they’re doing, it’s definitely on the lower end in terms of cost.
• SHANI EYELASH
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