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What Are Cluster Lashes & How Do They Differ From Lash Extensions?

It’s no secret that eyelash extensions are one of the hottest beauty trends right now. There are so many different types of eyelashes on the market that it can be hard to keep track of what’s what. From cluster lashes to volume lashes to magnetic strip lashes, the number of choices can be overwhelming.

Here, we will break down a common question: what is the difference between cluster lashes and lash extensions? Read on to get the whole story. 

What Are Cluster Lashes?

Cluster lashes, which are sometimes referred to as fans, flares, or flare lashes, are aptly named. These premade fans are exactly what they sound like: fake lashes packaged in a bundle with a few individual lash hairs. These can be used to thicken, volumize, and lengthen specific parts of the lashes, such as at the outer corner of your eye.

They are applied similarly to any other false eyelash, with a pair of tweezers and with lash glue. Most of the time, the person applying the lashes will try to space out the clusters so that they are evenly spread along the lash line, and don’t look like obvious strip lashes.

Cluster lashes were popular when eyelash extensions first began to take off years ago. Many salons loved the idea of cluster extensions because it was easy to fill a lot of space along the lash line and achieve a lot of lash density fairly quickly. 

Back then, however, when the lash industry was fairly new, there was not as much education on the topic as there is now. Most lash techs had no idea how the natural lashes could potentially be damaged by cluster lashes. 

Some salons still use cluster lashes, but the practice is becoming less and less common. 

How Are Cluster Lashes Different from Extensions?

They might seem similar, but the difference between cluster lashes and eyelash extensions is like night and day. First of all, a good way to think about eyelash extensions is by considering them the same as individual lashes. 

With eyelash extensions, a skilled lash artist applies individual eyelash extensions to your natural lashes. This process is painstakingly done one lash at a time, which creates a more natural appearance. While the process may be tedious, it leads to the best-looking lashes. 

Here are some main differences between the two.

Cost

The cost of false eyelashes varies greatly depending on the type. When it comes to false lashes, there are basically three types: strip, cluster, and individual or volume extensions. 

Strip lashes are the cheapest type and are typically applied by the consumer at home. Sometimes they are magnetic, and sometimes they are applied with a temporary lash adhesive. 

These are also commonly used for temporary makeup applications, such as for a wedding day, senior prom, etc. It depends on the brand but these can be as cheap as five dollars. If you are purchasing a whole kit with several sizes, prepare to spend closer to $20.

Cluster lashes are the middle ground when it comes to cost. They are applied by a lash artist typically but cost less than individual volume extensions because they take far less time to apply.  

Due to the harmful nature of cluster lashes, or premade fans, we recommend doing things the old fashioned way and learning to make your own fans. If it’s absolutely unavoidable to use pre made fans, we suggest purchasing them from a reputable lash supplier. The extra cost will be worth it to protect your clients’ natural lashes.

Traditional individual lash extensions are the gold standard when it comes to eyelash lengthening treatments. These are the most expensive, and for a reason. Like everything, you get what you pay for. 

True eyelash extensions cost anywhere from $150-$300 for a full set, but the results are immaculate and long-lasting. Lash extensions provide a dramatic look without impacting the health of your natural lashes

Duration

Cluster lashes should never be worn for more than a couple of days, if that. The way they are applied, their weight, and their size make it unsafe for your natural lashes to wear for an extended period of time. Not to mention, they should be applied with a temporary glue, which will not hold much longer than 24-48 hours anyway. 

Eyelash extensions will last for a very long time in comparison to cluster lashes. Once applied, the lashes will keep looking their best for two to three weeks, and then around the three to four-week mark it will really become necessary to get them filled. The good news is that a fill costs significantly less than a full set, and takes less time at the appointment. 

Application

Cluster lashes are applied with lash adhesive to the natural lashes. To apply them, you can use tweezers, similar to the way one applies individual lash extensions. However, because of their clustered nature, these lashes run the risk of having an unnatural appearance. Their bundled form means that they might not look exactly alike. 

Individual lash extensions are applied one at a time. A typical appointment will start with a consultation so that the lash artist can assess your individual needs. When the application starts, you will lie down in a comfortable position with your eyes closed the entire time. Some people even fall asleep during appointments!

The synthetic fibers are painstakingly glued to each individual natural eyelash. On average, it will take anywhere from 90 minutes to two hours to get a full set applied, but it’s worth the wait! The final result is beautiful and easy to maintain. 

Why Are Cluster Lashes Bad for You?

They’re Heavy

Because cluster lashes are overly heavy and adhere to several natural lashes at once, they will really deal some damage to your natural lashes. Because too much adhesive is utilized in the application, the cluster lashes will pull out your natural lashes when they come off. 

They weren’t designed to handle all that extra weight! Your natural lashes will weaken and bald spots along your lash line will appear as a result of this.

They’re Irritating

Cluster lashes are notorious for being more irritating to the eyes than traditional lash extensions. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary reason is because of their weight and the amount of glue required to make them stick.

Because cluster lashes are so heavy and thick, they often end up being applied to more than one of the natural lashes. Sometimes they are even glued to the eyelid itself. Because of this, they can become very irritating to the eyes as the lashes start to naturally grow. 

Though some people try to extend the life of their cluster lash extensions, they should never be worn for more than a day or two. Even then, we really can’t recommend them. 

They’re Dangerous

There are some real dangers involved in cluster lashes, and you should really consider them seriously before you consider getting these types of extensions.

Some things to think about: 

  • Cluster lash extensions are thick and heavy, and if kept on for an extended amount of time, they will cause the natural lashes to fall out prematurely.
  • Cluster lash extensions will prevent natural lashes from shedding normally, resulting in bacterial infections.
  • When cluster lashes are applied, it requires a lot of glue; this glue has the potential to obstruct the hair follicles, making it hard for natural lashes to grow properly.
  • When cluster lashes are put on incorrectly and the glue comes into contact with the skin, this can cause uncomfortable skin reactions, which may cause even further damage to the eyes in the long run. 

Should I Wear Cluster Lashes or Lash Extensions?

If you only need to wear lashes for a special occasion or for a couple of days, you may be okay with wearing cluster lashes. Since very few salons offer this service anymore, they might appeal to you if you have great skills when it comes to makeup application. Just make sure if you are opting for cluster lashes that you use temporary glue and remove them after a day or two.

Lash extensions are better for those who want to wake up every day with perfect eyelashes. There is some upkeep required, as you will need to get fills every few weeks, but if you are committed to maintaining long lashes, then extensions are the way to go! In the long run, you may find it easier and in some ways lower maintenance than natural lashes, because you no longer have to curl lashes or apply mascara daily. 

Lash Extensions Are the Way To Go

Heed our warnings when it comes to cluster lashes: they might do the trick for temporary length and volume, but can look uneven and can do damage to the lashes if worn for too long. If you really want to get beautiful long eyelashes, extensions are worth every penny. 

 

Sources:

What Are Cluster Lashes? Cluster vs. Strip Eyelashes | L'Oréal Paris 

Risks and benefits of eyelash extensions: What to expect | All About Vision

How to educate patients on risks of eyelash enhancements | Optometry Times

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