It was the summer of 2018, and I was ecstatic about my pending European summer trip. I got all of my preparations in order: got my hair highlighted, my nails done, and for the very first time – booked an appointment to get my lashes done.
In 2018, lash extensions were the new SNS manicure. We were all still talking about Pippa’s look at the Royal Wedding, obsessed with MBJ #WakandaForever, and fresh off of Beyonce headlining Coachella. Life was good.
There are generally two different lash service appointments: lash extensions and a lash lift. Extensions are exactly what you imagine them to be. Small lash hairs that are carefully glued onto your existing lashes to give you an on-demand glam that looks like you have gorgeous Megan Fox level lashes and you can actually say you woke up like this.
Lash lifts, on the other hand, are essentially a perm for your lashes. A lash lift curls your lashes from the base to the tip which gives it the illusion of length. Nothing is added to them, except for a bonding agent and a lifting lotion which keeps the lashes in place.
So what did I choose?
I chose a lash lift.
My experience started out just fine. I entered the highly-recommended lash bar and met my technician. She was a friendly girl who took me into a room in the front of the office and got to work.
With a very brief explanation like two sentences she told me to lay down and close my eyes. She then attached some type of tool designed to keep my eyes open to my lids and continued to ask me to keep them closed – slightly uncomfortable.
The first thing I noticed was that the room was *hot* and I am never hot. It’s the depth of summer and I have a blanket on my lap right now. I’m quite literally always cold, it’s one of my top 3 characteristics: happily married, loves boba tea, always cold. See.
Back to the story – so the room was hot, and I was slightly uncomfortable. The technician told me she applied a serum to my eyes and that I would have to sit there with my eyes closed for about 15 minutes. She would be outside if I needed anything.
“Cool, yeah no problem” I replied.
About 42 seconds later, I squeaked out – I need something!
I needed a distraction because something felt off. I asked her to help me put on a podcast on my phone and she reluctantly agreed. She fiddled with my phone and put on an old episode of Serial.
I shyly thanked her and apologized. She told me it’s fine and went back outside.
20 seconds later, I squeaked again.
I imagined her dismay to keep having to come back into my room when I’m sure this was her designated Instagram time, but something was wrong.
I couldn’t see anything (because my eyes were closed), I was sweating, but my palms were cold, and my heart was beating a million times a minute.
I was having a panic attack.
I told her I didn’t think I could stay and I needed to leave. Happy to pay for the entire service, but it’s not working out.
She told me that all she had done was applied a serum to break down my lashes so that she could recurl them over the rod (hence the perm) if I left now – I would loose all of my lashes, and look like Gollum (okay, I added that part myself).
I asked her not to leave me, self respect went out the window about 15 minutes ago and she told me that she could take off one of the clamps holding my eye if I promised to keep it closed – done. She then got a fan and continued to fan me until my time was over.
I asked to tell me stories about horror clients (fully knowing that I has just cemented my name on the list, but whatever) and she dished on some diva moments, fanned me, and we made it through the next 33 minutes. I skipped the optional lash tint.
After I got in the car, I was so confused.
I get facials all the time. I get massages, I do beauty services often – what was it about this? I was fully prepared to take a little lash nap before this went down, so what gives?!
I did some research. Turns out I wasn’t alone.
The idea of not having access to your eyes causes a phobia for many people. When your eyes are practically clamped or taped shut, you can’t open them even if you want to.
I even found an article in 2016 about how Kylie Jenner gets anxiety and dreads getting her lashes filled bi-weekly.
Turns out, I’m one of those people. After a wealth of research and talking to multiple therapists over the last few years, I’ve acknowledged a few things. 1) I have an eye phobia. With 20/20 vision, I hardly put things on or in my eyes. I never even had my eyes dilated before! So the idea of not having access to my eyes spiraled me into a state of discomfort and ultimately triggered my panic attack.
Unfortunately, this kicked off a period of time in my life where I started to deal with severe anxiety. The next few days on planes and trains were terrible for my agoraphobia (similar to claustrophobia, except the fear is being trapped). It didn’t go away for about 2 years, and I still deal with it from time to time. We can talk about that more another day, but it’s important to note that I can trace back the minute that my panic attacks started to this appointment.
Needless to say, I never got my lashes done again but I’m always in awe of how gorgeous my friend’s lashes look. I realize how rare this experience is, but since it happened to me – I think it’s important to share.
If you’re interested in learning more, here is some more information about lash services:
How long does a lash lift or lash extensions last?
A lash lift will start to fade slowly so it requires no visible maintenance. It should last 4-6 weeks. Lash extensions usually start to grow out around the 2-3 week mark and you’ll have to get a fill in (just like your nails)
How long does a lash lift or lash extensions take?
A lash lift can take you about 45-60 minutes while lash extensions can take 2-3 hours to complete.
How much does a lash lift or lash extensions cost?
Naturally the shorter procedure (the lash lift) is less costly, you’re looking at about $100-$150 depending on where you are located. Lash extensions are priced closer to $250-$350 for the first application.