Walking down Pennsylvania Avenue near the Eastern Market Metro station, I came across a narrow brick building where I was told Elle Lash Bar offered eyelash extensions.
Wondering if Google Maps had deceived me, I double checked the address. But once I went beyond the dingy exterior, I was greeted by fur throw pillows, a zebra-print chair, trays of makeup and none other than the owner of Elle herself, K.P. Murray.
While I sat on a teal plush couch, Murray helped me customize the lash extensions I was about to receive, with details like the shape and length of my lash extensions, which ranged from “Flirt” (65 extra lashes per eye) to “Vixen” (125 extra lashes per eye).
Eyelash extensions have become more popular in the beauty market, with customers lashing out in salons from New York City to California and recently, the District. Murray said she took note of the eyelash extension trend years ago but couldn’t find any local salons. Deciding to fill the void, she opened Elle in 2012.
After choosing my extension length (“Flirt”) and shape (cat eye), I was led into a room with two massage beds, each complete with a pillow and heated blanket. Murray then instructed me to lie on my back and said I should feel free to fall asleep.
Eyelash extensions, nap included? So far, so good.
While I dozed off to the sound of ambient house music and the occasional R&B track, Murray carefully used bonding glue to attach each of 65 faux-mink lashes onto my actual set, one eyelash at a time, with a pair of tweezers.
After about an hour of beauty sleep, I awoke with a new set of lashes that were twice the length of my own – and they appeared completely natural.
For someone with typically bristly stubs as lashes, I was nothing short of amazed. But as with most salon services, Kim K lashes come at a hefty price.
My $225 set was at the low end of the price range, with the salon’s priciest service, “Vixen,” cashing in at $300, although Elle has a 15 percent student discount.
As someone who splurges weekly on nail appointments, I won’t judge. If lashes are your thing, Elle offers fuller, longer, natural-looking lashes with efficient and courteous service. But cost aside, there’s still one fatal catch: Maintenance.
With proper care, the lash extensions will last three to four weeks, Murray said. And “proper care” entails more than you might think.
Before leaving the lash bar, I was given a two pages of instructions, including advice to not shower or wear eye makeup for the first 48 hours and avoid unapproved makeup products for the entire time the lashes are attached.
When I asked which makeup products would be considered safe, Murray told me to avoid anything oil-based, but added that she doesn’t recommend anything other than the lash-compatible brand sold in the salon by the company “Xtreme Lashes.”
That means on top of paying upwards of $200 for the eyelash extensions themselves, you’d need to pay for an entire new makeup set if you want the lashes to last.
That being said, my eyelash extensions are still intact roughly a week later, despite the fact that I’ve been wearing unapproved eye makeup since the 48-hour period ended.
The bottom line? If you’re desperate for longer lashes and you’re not afraid to splurge, Elle is the place to go. Otherwise, save your cash.
This article appeared in the January 29, 2015 issue of the Hatchet.