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“What’s different?” asked Patrick.

“I didn’t have time for mascara this morning.”

“Oh.”

He didn’t say any more, but I knew what he was thinking: She really does look better with mascara.

“A lot of eyelash-extension clients find they don’t need to wear makeup at all,” said Jason Hill of Tranquility Lashes in Golden Hill (619-819-2522; tranquilitylashes.com). “But if you can spot somebody’s eyelash extensions, then they didn’t get good service. You shouldn’t be able to tell — you should just think, Wow, that girl looks amazing without really knowing why.” Just the effect I was after.

“I use Xtreme Lashes,” said Hill. “It’s a synthetic hair that is formed into many different curvatures, thicknesses, and colors to create a lash that looks natural. I don’t prefer actual natural fibers because they don’t maintain their shape as well as the synthetics.”

Lashes are applied one at a time along the eyelid, one extension glued onto one lash. “The quality of the glue is important — the bonding time, how well it adheres to the natural lash. Those things will determine how well I can place them without getting any kind of clumping.”

Placement is key. “My job is to isolate one single eyelash at a time — there are about 130 per eye — with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers. Then I use another pair to dip the extension into the glue and sort of paint it onto the natural lash. You do a special kind of shimmying motion to get the glue well distributed and then let the extension settle right near the base. Then you correct any kind of side-to-side curvature. It can take from an hour to two and a half hours, depending on the fullness the client wants. After that, it’s recommended that you let it set for 48 hours.” No getting it wet in the shower. “That allows the glue to cure rather than crystallize and become brittle.”

Hill takes the client’s lifestyle into consideration when choosing extensions. “Where they work in the day, what kind of makeup they wear at night. Typically, the people who really love the extensions and keep them up are the ones who wear just mascara and a little lip gloss as their daytime look. Then I look at the eye shape — downward sloping or almond shaped or round. This determines the length and curvature and thickness to use. If people want really long lashes and it’s not age-appropriate or if it doesn’t fit their lifestyle, I’m going to talk to them about that. Typically, people want to look naturally beautiful and not overdone. I also won’t put an eyelash on if I know it’s going to damage somebody’s natural lash. If it’s too long or too thick or too heavy, it will make the lash shed prematurely.”

“Prematurely” means before its ordinary lifespan of about 90 days. “Because we apply extensions to mature lashes, you generally have anywhere from a few days to two months. Hopefully they fall out in a natural pattern, so the lash just gets a little less full. So, you can expect to get them touched up every two to three weeks. Those appointments [$90] typically last about an hour. A lot of clients fall asleep. It works as their ‘me time.’”

While even a good job will need maintenance in three weeks, “a bad job will take you three months to recover. There’s clumping, and sometimes the base hasn’t been attached properly and you feel poking and itching and tugging. My advice is to be as gentle as possible and get them professionally removed. You can put baby oil on them to help loosen the bond, but it’s likely that you’ll pull out your natural lashes in the process. Make sure you look at before-and-after photos in close-up. If you see clumping, keep looking. And ask how many times they’ve done this.” Hill’s prices start at $175 for 30 extensions per eye and go to $385 for 90 per eye.

Other places around town:

The Diva Lash Boutique in University Heights (619-288-1799; divalashboutique.com). Prices range from $105 (30 lashes per eye) to $185 (70 lashes per eye).

Flutterby Eyelash Extensions mobile service (858-603-0311; flutterbylash.com). Full set of lashes, $275.

Blink Lash Boutique in Mission Valley (619-964-6082; blink-boutique.com). Prices range from $95 (15 lashes per eye) to $320 (70 lashes per eye).

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