Kim Kardashian’s KKW Beauty isn’t the only buzzy brand launching at ULTA: customized lash lifts and extensions are coming soon to the popular makeup retailer, thanks to Sugarlash PRO. A global company that teaches lash services and provides professional products to over 80,000 artists in 89+ countries, Sugarlash PRO is trying to take the guesswork out of trendy lash treatments.
"I started doing research and found that there were a lot of women going to 'cheap' places to get the service, and they were having horrific results and damage," says company founder Courtney Buhler. "Instead of looking elsewhere for reputable providers, they wrote off the service as a whole—and of course told anyone they knew to stay away from lash extensions too! I realized then that I needed to make amazing products and training more accessible."
Here, Buhler fills us in on everything you need to know to get the most out of your lashes.
Tell us a little about your background: how did you go from a tiny operation in Edmonton to a brand with experts all over the globe?
Because the industry was SO new when I started, all of our Facebook forums and chats were with artists around the globe. We all had to brainstorm about what was working and what wasn’t. When I launched Sugarlash PRO, it became global instantly. Our first month we had orders going to Italy and France and Turkey. I couldn’t believe it, but I was so grateful! From there, it has just grown organically.
You just announced your partnership with Ulta. Can you fill us in on the details?
Ulta has been offering lash extensions for a while but they didn't have a standardized training process or product line—most artists were seeking training on their own. They sought us out to develop a program for them so their artists could have consistent results with top training and product.
How are Sugarlash PRO’s training and certification process different than others out there?
We really believe in teaching the theory and science behind everything we do, as well as the how-to. When we empower artists with a deep understanding of the why— as opposed to just the how—they can be much more confident and competent providers.
We focus not only on hands-on courses but also heavily rely on progressive online methods. Full courses, certifications, ongoing coaching, and peer support are all available online.
The status quo in the lash industry is a rushed 1 or 2 days of training, and I’ve always known it wasn’t enough. People need more than that to truly digest and retain all they need to know. We are also the only lash company in the world to require both a written exam and a hands-on practical exam in order to receive certification. When someone is certified through Sugarlash, it means they REALLY know their stuff!
What’s the difference between a lash lift and a lash extension?
A lash lift is an enhancement to your natural lashes giving a semi-permanent curl that lasts 10-12 weeks. This is a much more natural look and requires literally zero maintenance after the treatment. The curl is achieved by brushing up your lashes onto a silicone shield placed on your closed eyelids. Using a system of safe processing creams over the course of a 40-60 minute treatment, your natural lashes are curled!
Extensions deliver a more dramatic result by applying individual fake lashes to each individual natural lash. Extensions allow for much more creativity in terms of styling and final look achieved. Classic extensions are applied with a 1:1 ratio and can be styled to enhance your eye shape. Depending on the number of lashes, appointments take about 1.5 - 2 hours. Volume extensions use multiple thinner extensions made into a “fan”. Each “fan” can have 2-10 ultra-thin lash extensions in it and is custom-created based on your natural lash strength. Volume lashing gives a full and fluffy look upon application and is a much more labor-intensive process taking about 2 - 2.5 hours.
Who is the ideal customer from each procedure?
Lash lifts are best for those gifted with relatively long natural lashes. Since it is simply curling what you have, if your lashes are on the shorter side, the results won’t be as dramatic. Extensions are great for anyone and your lash artist will be able to advise the best lash length and density to compliment your eye shape and features without causing damage.
Your beauty habits also play a part in what service is best for you. Extensions require fills every 2-4 weeks (depending on your natural shedding cycle) while lash lifts last 10-12 weeks without any upkeep required.
What should people know before their first lash lift or extension?
It takes time! Appointments range anywhere from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on the treatment. You will need to have your eyes closed for the duration, so be prepared to relax with no distractions!
There’s been some negative press around lash lifts and extensions gone wrong. What steps should a consumer take to avoid less than stellar results?
Lashes gone wrong all come from either low-quality product or improper training. When done correctly, no lash service causes any amount of damage to the natural lashes.
The main thing to keep in mind with lash extensions is that the length and diameter needs to be appropriate for each client’s unique lash base. So if someone has fine short lashes, they will only be able to hold a conservative amount of weight. Whereas if lashes are long and strong naturally, they can support more dramatic extensions.
Can lash lifts or extensions damage my natural lashes?
Yes, if done improperly. Always find someone who is certified. An artist who has trained with reputable companies will be happy to share their experience with you. The same thing goes for the product they use. Ask your provider what brand they carry in their salon and why. Ask them how long they have been working with that system/product.
With lash lift, there are a number of “speed” brands with very short processing times. This means the solutions are stronger and are more likely to over-process the lashes. A lash lift generally should take no less than 40 minutes.
Can lash lifts or extensions be done to complement other treatments, like Latisse?
Yes! Growth serums pair well with any lash service.
What do seasonal changes mean for lash health?
We go through heavier sheds when the seasons change, particularly in spring and fall. The weather triggers a change in our shed cycle and will release more lashes and hair naturally. It is only a 2-3 week period and to rectify you’ll simply just need to go back a week or two sooner for your lash appointment.
What's the best beauty advice you've ever received?
I think just to not take beauty so seriously. It’s supposed to be fun and empowering.