everything guide

A Primer on Fake Eyelashes

Photo: Florent Tanet

Eyelashes have the impressive ability to transform your face. The Everything Guide to Eyelashes is a week of stories on the Cut about lashes, from all the mascaras we’ve obsessively tested to our personal feelings about why eyelashes matter.

So you want big, fluffy, dramatic lashes? You’re going to need to look past the mascara tube and set your focus on falsies. Fake lashes have it all; they are reusable and highly effective. They are evolving, too: Recent innovations have ushered in creative takes on the traditional fake lash, from magnetic lashes to lightweight hybrids that are similar to, but not quite, extensions. It’s safe to say that the fake-eyelash waters can be confusing and muddy, so the Cut constructed a guide to help you find the fake lashes that are perfect for you.

The Basics

What are fake eyelashes made from?
Lashes are sourced three ways: from synthetic materials, human hair, and animal fur. Most lashes are synthetic and made from a flexible, plastic-like material. Synthetic lashes are more affordable than those made from human hair and animal fur, but they are also the heaviest of the three and look more obviously “fake” because of their extra-shiny finish.

Animal lashes come from brushed fur that’s been harvested from a variety of animals, including minks and horses. On the other hand, human lashes are indeed derived from human hair, and unlike synthetic lashes, both human and animal lashes are ultra-fine, soft, and easy to curl — but they will lose their shape if exposed to water.

Wait, what about silk eyelashes?
Silk eyelashes are not actually silk, but rather a blend of lightweight synthetic materials. Think of them as the middle ground between traditional heavy synthetic lashes and fur lashes, in terms of price and appearance.

How long do they last?
You won’t be able to use synthetic lashes for very long. Even if you clean and store them carefully in between uses, synthetic lashes will begin to degrade after four or five wearings. Human and animal lashes last much longer. With proper care, you can reuse those up to 20 times.

Got it. So how can I keep my lashes in tip-top condition so they last longer?
For starters, take them off every night before you go to bed. The last thing you want is to roll over a perfectly good lash strip and irrevocably alter its shape. You’ll need to clean them, too. After peeling them from your eyelids, take a makeup remover- or micellar water-soaked Q-tip and gently brush it along the lash strip. Once you’re done, store your lashes in a case so they don’t get crushed.

“My favorite natural lash is M.A.C #33. It’s clean, understated, classic.” — Trixie Mattel, star from RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Can I apply mascara?
Of course, but there’s a catch. Mascara build-up will shorten the lifespan of your lashes. Even if you are diligent and clean them after each use, the more intense cleanup process will add additional wear to the lash hairs.

How much do these guys cost?
Synthetic lashes can retail for as little as $2 per pair. Synthetic “silk” lashes, animal lashes, and human lashes, however, are much pricier. For those, expect to pay between $25 and $50 for one set.

How am I supposed to remove them?
This is so easy. Slowly peel the lash strip (or individual lashes, if you are using those) away from your eyelid. And make sure to peel off the layer of glue from the base of the lashes as well.

Lash Types

These are lashes that conform to the length of your eyelid. Short strips are typically applied to the outer corner of your lash line to pull off a “flared” effect. No matter the length, lash strips adhere to your lids with glue, tape, or magnets.

Excuse me, did you say magnets?
Yes, I did! Magnetic lashes are a new subcategory within fake lashes. Tiny magnets line the base of these lash strips. To use, layer one strip on top your upper lash line, and while holding that first strip in place, layer the second lash strip on top of the first to activate the two strips’ magnetic attraction.

Individual lashes are trickier to use than strips, but the tradeoff is that they appear more natural. But don’t let the name confuse you — individual lashes are actually a cluster of single lash hairs (around five to ten) that have been glued together. Depending on the look you are trying to achieve, you can attach two or three individual lashes for a subtle look, or upwards of five for a lot of drama.

The Hybrid
Lashify lashes are not exactly extensions, but they aren’t traditional faux lashes either. They are a mix of both. Lighter than fake lashes, Lashify lashes are applied to the underside of your lashes, and you attach them to the base of your real lashes, and not your eyelid. The result? They are the most convincing eyelash dupe, next to professional extensions, but you’re going to have to pay for it big: the Lashify starter kit costs $125, and replacement lashes go for $20.


Nearly everyone who uses fake eyelashes agrees: Duo glue is the best glue for lashes. “I use a toothpick or bobby pin to apply it to the strip,” Peppermint, a standout from RuPaul’s Drag Race, told me. “This way you can save on glue and only need a drop.”

Lash Applicators
If you struggle applying lashes, you might want to consider a lash applicator. The tweezer-like tool grabs lash strips and helps you place them on your eyelids.

If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Fake Eyelashes