Quality Over Quantity: Why You Should Avoid Bargain Lash Services

Hey Everyone, 

Anni here (co-founder of Villainy Beauty and Principal Beauty Therapist), there is always a time and place for every discussion and it’s about time I speak to the $50 lashes that are floating around. Now when I say $50 lashes I am referring to lash extensions done by techs who are charging anything less than $100 for their services. There are a few things that MUST be highlighted to those who love extensions but don’t necessarily understand the ins and outs of the industry. 

Lash extensions are a luxury service whereby synthetic (or silk and mink) lashes are added to the natural lash with the goal and purpose of extending length and adding volume. This is a semi-permanent treatment and requires maintenance by way of refills every 3 weeks to keep up with the natural lash shed cycle. 

A few years ago – lash techs were sought after and getting onto the books of a lash tech was like striking gold, however nowadays every second person seems to be a lash tech or at the very least knows of a lash tech. With the influx of new technicians over the last few years (and like every industry) you have quality and then you have the other. In hopes of driving in clients a lot of lash techs are undercharging and as a result cutting corners in other aspects of their business and best practice policies. 

Operating a Beauty Business

Let’s break it down. In order to own a beauty business of any kind (specifically in WA) you need the following: 

  • Qualifications – whilst for lashes this is not regulated or mandatory (which in itself is a petrifying thought, considering you are working with other people’s eyes and can effectively send someone blind), it is a must have in my salon for any of my staff who wishes to specialise in lash extensions or any service for that matter. The average lash course is between $900 and $2000 
  • Premises – operating from home is fine but for the most part there are considerations for rent. 
  • Council approval – for the approvals in the 2 suburbs we have operated from obtaining this has cost about $200 -$300 per premises per year. 
  • Health department approvals – this is done through the local councils and costs an additional $200 (again average and based on the 2 shires/city councils we have worked with). This is also a yearly cost. 
  • Public liability insurance – depending on the size of the business this costs varies. Both as a sole trader and a company our experience has been that the cost of this is $300 per month with additional charges for when you have staff and equipment and stock holding increasing. 
  • Workers compensation – again this varies depending on your staff numbers, it is wise to have this even as a sole trader in case something happens. 
  • Electricity – we use about $500 a quarter just running a beauty salon that mainly caters to lash extensions. 
  • Water – laundering sheets, pillow cases and alike between every client is about $200 a quarter 

These are just to get started. In effect just to be allowed to operate from any premises and essentials for any business. Factoring stock and cost of quality products and the ability to generate a profit for the tech then it starts to add up. So let’s look at equipment. 

  • Steriliser – to make sure everything is clean and sanitary for clients, a heat or steam steriliser is essential. You also need to show the health department you have one just to be approved to operate. Average cost for a good quality unit is $300-$500 
  • Lash lamps – lighting to see what one is doing is essential. $200 
  • Tweezers – good quality tweezers are around $80 for a set and usually 3 sets are needed so that you can see multiple clients in a day without having to run 1 hour of cleaning and sterilising between every client. So let’s say $240 
  • Beauty beds – whilst there are cheap options out there, we run an all inclusive setting and never want to worry about people feeling uncomfortable about “fitting” on a bed or “beds breaking”. We opted for a more sturdy model that can hold 200 kilograms. These cost $200 – $2000 depending on whether or not you opt for an electric bed option 
  • Lash pillows and cases – $60 each with 1 case. Unless you are using a disposable cover you will need at least 3. Per health department regulations these need changing between every client for hygiene reasons. 

    This is just the bare minimum. When running in a professional setting we also add things like blankets and knee rollers to keep our clients comfortable. You can also have reclining beds to cater to pregnant women and those who struggle to lie on their backs for long periods of time. 

    What About Materials?

    Now it’s time to get down to the cost of materials per set. 

    • Lashes – the actual lashes themselves are costly to purchase however we have broken it down per set and style below. 
    • Volumes $7.80 per set 
    • Hybrid $7.00 per set 
    • Classics $6.00 per set 
    • Mega Volumes $8.00 per set 
    • Lash adhesive totally around $40-$64 per 5ml bottle depending on supplier and quality. We use sensitive friendly glue. Per set this is around $4.00 and the glue must be disposed of 4 weeks after opening as it has a very short shelf life. 
    • Disposables are about $3.00 per set 
    • Shampoo $2.00 per set. 
    • Cleaning agents for after your service $5.00 worth of hospital grade cleaning agents for every set. 

    There are a few more expenses that I have missed but from this break down you can see that each set of lashes definitely costs just under if not more than $50.00 

    Let’s Talk Labour

    Time wise a tech averages 2 hours for a set of lashes. The award rate for a level 2 beauty therapist is $26.00 per hour as a part-timer. 

    Now with this cost break down we can firstly ascertain that a set of lashes just purely on cost of goods is around about $20.00 a set. When you factor in a wage the cost increases to $72.00 per set. 

    Then add operating expenses (like electricity, insurance, water) lets say your do 20 sets of lashes per week (which is generous as an estimation) – you are looking at an additional $6.70. 

    Your grand total for a set of lashes (expenses only) is $80.00 give or take some change. 

    So this begs the questions for a $50 or even $80 set of lashes with a tech in your area. Where are they cutting corners? Did they skip out on the insurance? Are they actually qualified? Did they get the relevant approvals? Are they using cheap (and poor quality) products for your lashes? 

    Choosing a cheap lash technician for lash extensions can pose several significant health risks as well. Here are the primary health concerns associated with the decision to engage with a tech who may likely be skimping on the details: 

    Allergic Reactions 

    • Inferior Adhesives: Low-cost lash techs often use cheaper adhesives that can contain harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and latex. These substances can trigger allergic reactions, causing symptoms like redness, swelling, itching, and watering of the eyes. 
    • Lash Materials: Cheaper lash extensions may be made from low quality synthetic materials that can also cause allergies or irritate the delicate skin around the eyes. 

    Eye Infections 

    • Poor Sanitation Practices: Budget lash techs might not adhere to strict hygiene standards, increasing the risk of bacterial or fungal infections. Infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) can occur if tools are not properly sterilised between clients. 
    • Contaminated Products: Using contaminated lash products or expired adhesives can introduce pathogens directly to the eye area, leading to infections. 

    Damage to Natural Lashes 

    • Improper Application Techniques: Inexperienced or untrained lash techs might apply extensions incorrectly, using too much adhesive or attaching lashes in a way that puts excessive stress on the natural lashes. This can cause natural lashes to break, become brittle, or fall out prematurely. Alopecia (permanent hair loss) will eventually be the result of continually engaging in poor technicians. 
    • Lash Loss: Over time, continuous damage to the natural lashes can lead to thinning or permanent lash loss, especially if extensions are not applied and maintained properly. 

    Eye Injuries 

    • Chemical Burns: Cheap adhesives may contain harsh chemicals that can cause chemical burns if they come into direct contact with the eye or surrounding skin. This can result in severe pain, redness, and potentially long-term damage to the eye. 
    • Mechanical Injuries: An unskilled lash tech might accidentally injure the eye with their tools during the application process, leading to corneal abrasions or other eye injuries. 

    Long-Term Health Implications 

    • Chronic Inflammation: Repeated exposure to poor-quality materials and adhesives can lead to chronic inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), which can be painful and difficult to treat. 
    • Vision Problems: Severe infections or injuries resulting from poor lash extension practices can potentially lead to more serious vision problems if not promptly and properly treated. 

    Overall Hygiene and Safety Concerns 

    • Unregulated Practices: Cheap lash techs might not be operating under regulated conditions, increasing the risk of unsanitary practices. This includes not following proper procedures for hand washing, tool sterilisation, and workspace cleanliness. 
    • Lack of Sterilisation: Tools like tweezers and scissors must be sterilised between clients to prevent cross-contamination. Failing to do so can spread infections from one client to another. 

    Lack of Professional Oversight 

    • Unlicensed Technicians: Budget lash techs may not have proper licensing or certification, which means they may not have undergone the necessary training to perform the procedure safely and effectively. 
    • Inadequate Training: Without adequate training, a lash tech might not be aware of the best practices for hygiene, application techniques, or how to handle complications that arise during or after the procedure. 

    While the appeal of saving money is strong, the potential health risks associated with seeing a cheap lash tech can be substantial. These risks include allergic reactions, eye infections, damage to natural lashes, eye injuries, and long-term health issues. It is safer to invest in a reputable, well-trained lash technician who uses high-quality materials and adheres to stringent hygiene practices to ensure your safety and the health of your eyes. 

    Addendum: If you are a lash tech who is following all best practice and engaged in a business correctly with insurance and necessary approvals and have fallen into the trap of attracting customers with cheap lashes – STOP IT! You need to value your time, your expenditure and your expertise. You will not be able to sustainably continue your passion if you allow yourself and consequently your clients to undervalue your work. Quality is better than quantity in all things, including your clients.