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I Got Russian Volume Eyelash Extensions So You Don’t Have To

Posted on 14 min read

ASOS green polka dot midi dress
I’ll be totally honest with you here: I wasn’t going to write this post.

I mean, when I decided to start a series called, “I Try It So You Don’t Have To,” I knew there would be the occasional embarrassment along the way: things I didn’t like, or that didn’t work out. And that was the whole point, obviously: to give a totally honest account of some of the products or treatments that people are curious about, but reluctant to try for themselves. So, I figured I’d take one for the team, and give them all a go, and if it all went horribly wrong, well, at least we’d know, right?

This one, however?

This one went SO horribly wrong that I seriously considered just pretending it didn’t happen. Not writing about it. Not even MENTIONING it. Swearing all who knew about it to secrecy, and then just erasing it from my mind.

But what would be the fun in that, I ask myself?

Exactly.

So, I’m going to tell you the story of that one time I got Russian Volume Eyelash extensions, slightly against my better judgement. I’m going to have to ask you to brace yourselves first, though, because remember that time I tried magnetic eyelashes? This is worse than that. And remember the time I let my husband do my makeup? It’s worse than that, too. I really wish I was joking here. But I tried it so you don’t have to: and here’s what happened….

red wavy hair and green polka dot dress
I think the first thing I’d like to say in my defence here is that I’m no stranger to semi-permanent eyelash extensions. As I mentioned in this post, I get them done every time I travel, and I actually ended up having them for around 8 weeks this summer: I got a full set fitted right before our trip to Kent, then just kept getting infills every couple of weeks to maintain them. It was awesome, seriously: I woke up every morning with long, fluttery eyelashes, and I didn’t have to do a single thing to keep them that way, which really appealed to my lazy side. Honestly, if I had the time and the money, I’d have them all the time, but, sadly for me, I have neither, so I was forced to stop.

I get my lashes done by a local woman who has her own salon, and she does a great job of making them look “done” without looking totally ridiculous, so, the first thing I did when we booked our last-minute trip to Tenerife last month was to contact her and ask for an appointment. (No, seriously, it was LITERALLY the first thing I did – like, I’m pretty sure I told the eyelash woman about my holiday before I even told my parents…)

That’s when the bad news came: The Lash Lady, as I call her (Which is stupid of me, really, because her name is Coreen…) was going on holiday too – the week before I was. She couldn’t do my lashes – which was a blow, sure, but not the end of the world, because surely there were other Lash Ladies nearby who’d be able to step into the breach, as it were?

Well, I did a quick Google, and, sure enough, a few local salons came up, all offering semi-permanent eyelash extensions. Time was of the essence here, so I called the one with the most professional looking Facebook page, and asked if they could fit me in a couple of days before my holiday.

“Is it the classic lashes you want or the Russian Volume?” asked the girl on the end of the phone.

I was thrown. I’d always just asked for “eyelash extensions” before, and, although I HAD heard of Russian Volume lashes, I had only a vague idea of what they were.

So, obviously that’s what I asked for.

*headdesk*

In my defence, I… have no real defence, actually.  I just thought it might be fun to try something a bit different, and, well, I WAS going to be away on holiday, after all, so if I didn’t exactly love it, at least no one I knew would see me. And how bad could it be, really? <FORESHADOWING>

Once I’d gotten off the phone, though, I did have a quick Google to see what I was letting myself in for, and nothing I saw put me off. I discovered that Russian Volume Lashes differ from regular eyelash extensions in that, rather than fitting one eyelash extension to each of your natural lashes, the Lash Lady fits multiple extensions to each one: hence the “volume” part. Well, this sounded just dandy to me, so, as I drove to the salon, around 40 hours before my flight, I was already planning to go back in two weeks time to have them topped up for Christmas – and maybe one more time after that, because THAT’S how good this was going to look, I just KNEW it.

Here’s a photo of my hopeful, makeup-free face, taken in the car right before my appointment, with the intention of using it as a ‘before’ shot:

Before Russian Volume Eyelashes

(I’d just had my microblading top-up the day before, which is why my eyebrows look weird here, too. That was the least of my worries, though…)

My intention here had actually been to post this on Instagram Stories, and then follow it up with the ‘after’ shot, so everyone could be amazed and impressed by my Bambi-like eyelash transformation, but I ended up spending so much time faffing around with Instagram filters that I ran out of time and didn’t post it. I was to be glad of this fact later. <MORE FORESHADOWING.>

Right at that moment, though, I was still innocent and filled with the hope that my lashes – and thus my life –  were about to get significantly better –  so I headed into the salon, and was immediately shown into a treatment room. So far, so good. I was just over an hour away from having perfect eyelashes, so I lay back, closed my eyes, and attempted to relax, even although there’s really nothing more awkward to me than lying on my back and attempting to make small-talk with a complete stranger who’s poking around my face. Just me? Thought so…

The Lash Lady, however (Yeah, I’ve no idea what the correct terminology is for someone who does eyelash extensions: sorry…) was very nice and professional, and the treatment itself felt no different from any other eyelash application I’ve had, so I lay there and let her get on with it, while mostly just thinking about my upcoming holiday. It took roughly an hour to do both eyes – which surprised me slightly, as I’d wrongly assumed that more volume would equal more time – and, before long, I was sitting up, while the Lash Lady went to get a mirror. Or, at least, that’s what I ASSUMED she was doing, so I was really quite puzzled when, a few minutes later, she came back and showed me a life-sized photo of a pantomime dame – one with huge, fake looking eyelashes, that look like they’ve been applied in the dark.

I smiled politely, wondering what the joke was … then the pantomime dame smiled too, and all of a sudden, I realised the horrible truth: THAT WAS NO DAME I WAS LOOKING AT. THAT WAS ME.

FFS

I’ll just give you a few minutes to let this sink in, shall I?

Now, I have absolutely no way of knowing whether the actual application of these lashes is good, bad, or indifferent, really. I mean, if I had to guess, I’d go with REALLY, REALLY BAD. Like, OMGSOBAD. But I suspect at least some of you might be looking at the photo above and thinking, “Well, what the hell did you EXPECT, woman?” so I’ll just quickly defend myself here by pointing out that, while my decision to get Russian Volume Lashes was a spontaneous one, it wasn’t a totally uninformed one. I mean, I’d consulted Google before my appointment, so I thought I knew roughly what to expect. I wasn’t, for instance, expecting the results to be subtle, or, indeed, particularly natural looking. It’s not really the point of Russian Volume Lashes, is it? No, I thought I’d probably look like I’d had my lashes done – and I was totally fine with that, because, like I said, I was off on holiday, and I thought it might be fun to have crazy-long lashes for a week or so.

And I guess that’s exactly what I got, right? Well, they WERE long, and they WERE crazy. Just… not in a way that looks even remotely good to me. Because, to me, this just looks like I’m wearing a gigantic set of false eyelashes, which I’ve applied really badly – and, if that was the look I was going for, God knows, I could just have BOUGHT a gigantic set of false lashes and applied them really badly, couldn’t I?

So, yeah: I wasn’t thrilled, really. In fact, the second I looked into the mirror, I knew for certain that I wasn’t going to be able to live with these lashes. So, I did what any very British person would do under the circumstances: I thanked the Lash Lady profusely, paid up and left. I think the word, “WOW!” might have left my mouth, in fact.

(Actually, that’s not quite true: I thanked her profusely, then, when I tried to pay by card, she huffed a bit and told me the salon didn’t accept debit cards, so I walked to the ATM in the pouring rain (Which I was actually quite grateful for, because it gave me an excuse to pull the hood of my jacket over my face…), withdrew the cash, and walked back to the salon, still in the pouring rain. Then I thanked her AGAIN, paid up and left. I hate myself, seriously.)

Once in the car, I risked a quick glance in the mirror, just to confirm that the lashes really were as bad as I’d thought they were, and that it wasn’t just the lighting in the salon or something.

THEY REALLY WERE AS BAD AS I’D THOUGHT THEY WERE. GOD.

By the time I’d driven home, though, I’d started to convince myself I was over-reacting. It was probably just the shock of seeing such a big difference in my lashes, I told myself. Or the fact that I wasn’t wearing any other makeup. Because, it’s not really the kind of look that works without a ton of mascara on the bottom lashes, at the very least, is it?

Feeling slightly reassured, I pulled into the driveway, and had another look in the mirror:

Really bad Russian Volume Eyelash Extensions
FFS, PEOPLE, SERIOUSLY.

I really didn’t want to face the inevitable teasing I knew I’d get from Terry when he seen me like this, but living in the car didn’t seem like a good idea either, so I headed inside to get it over with.

“But… WHY?” asked Terry, once he’d stopped laughing. “Why didn’t you just tell her you didn’t like it, and get her to do something to fix it?”

It’s a fair question, and one that has two answers: the first one simply being that I’m a freaking coward – and also the kind of British person who will put up with pretty much anything, rather than come across as difficult. Like, if you ran me over, say, I’d probably apologise for being in the way.  Just a few months ago, I accidentally opened the dishwasher door when it was in the middle of its washing cycle: “Oooh, sorry!” I gasped, slamming it shut again, as if I’d caught the dishwasher in a private moment, which it might find embarrassing.  I apologised to my DISHWASHER, people. Seriously: do I REALLY sound like the kind of person who’d complain to the nice woman who’d just spent an hour gluing (terrible) false eyelashes onto my lids? I think not.  And, the fact was, I’d asked for Russian Volume Lashes, and she’d given me Russian Volume Lashes. It wasn’t HER fault that they made me look like I was about to appear in a low-budget panto as one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, was it?

(Random aside, but are we even allowed to reference Cinders’ ugly sisters these days, or has that story been updated to feature Cinderella’s Actually-Beautiful-Because-We’re-All-Beautiful Sisters, instead?)

“This will look much better when it’s dark,” said Terry, going back to his task of hanging the Christmas lights. My heart leapt in hope. Of course! I was just about to travel to a hot, sunny island: I’d be able to wear sunglasses all day, and then at night it would be dark, and the lashes wouldn’t look so bad!

“Do you really think so?” I asked, hopefully, choosing to overlook the fact that my husband had apparently just told me I’d look better in the dark.

“Oh, I was talking about the Christmas lights!” he answered, chuckling to himself. “No, nothing will make your eyelashes look better: sorry!”

We DID give it a try, though. Ten minutes later, Max had gone down for his afternoon nap, and Terry and I were standing in the bathroom, while Terry used a pair of nail scissors to try to trim my false lashes down to a more reasonable length.  “It’s not just the length,” though, I wailed. “It’s the VOLUME! You’d have to, I dunno, maybe try to feather them a bit, too?”

This, however, was beyond Terry’s pay grade, so he handed over the scissors, and I had a go myself.

The lashes still looked terrible: and, not only did they LOOK terrible, they FELT terrible, too. There were so many lashes glued on that my eyelids literally felt weighed down by them: they were heavy and scratchy feeling, and I knew there was no way I’d comfortably be able to wear my sunglasses with them. They just felt horribly uncomfortable, basically, so, realising I was out of options, I once again hit up Google, and started frantically calling other salons in the area to see if anyone could fit me in for a last-minute lash removal/re-application.

NO, was the unsurprising answer to that one. Well, it was late Friday afternoon by that stage, and we were leaving for the airport at 7am on Sunday morning. That just left Saturday, and, of course, every salon and freelancer I called was booked solid.

Which left me with just one option: I’d have to remove the damn things myself.

It was at this stage, however, that my luck turned, because – and please don’t yell at me for this – it just so happens that I had a bottle of false eyelash remover in stock from the last time I’d had my usual extensions done, back in the summer. Yeah, yeah, I know these things should only ever be used by professionals, but honestly: I was just too impatient to wait for my last set to fall out on their own, and too lazy to drive to a salon and pay someone to do it for me. So I bought a bottle of remover fluid, and je ne regrette rein, because, around 20 minutes later, I had a sink full of Russian Volume Lashes, my own lashes were, once again, triumphantly average (One small blessing here: at least the extensions didn’t take any of my own lashes with them when they came out!), and I was opening up my suitcase to add mascara and eye makeup remover to my travel makeup bag. GAH.

On the plus side, I now no longer LOOKED as stupid as I felt. On the minus side, though, I can’t even begin to tell you how stupid I felt for having spent so much time and money on having eyelash extensions fitted for JUST OVER AN HOUR. I mean, WHO DOES THAT? (Oh, and I was also really freaking annoyed that I was now NOT going to have the low-maintenance holiday look I was after, and would, instead, be stuck layering on mascara every day again…) And, I should probably add here – OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER INCOMING – that I accept full responsibility for the mess that this little experiment turned out to be, because I did the absolute minimum of research into this particular salon, or its track record in this kind of treatment. In my defence, when I called to book the appointment, I intended just to go for my usual ‘Classic Lashes’ – it was only when the option of volume lashes was offered to me that I thought, “Hey, why not?”

Well, I’ll tell you why not: because volume lash application, it seems, is a bit of a specialised skill – it requires far more training and expertise than regular eyelash extensions, which is why it’s particularly important that you do your research, and make sure you’re having it done by someone who really knows their stuff. So, shop around, ask to see photos of the Lash Lady/Man’s previous work – in short, do all of the things I’d normally have done myself if I wasn’t in a little bit of a last-minute panic, trying to find someone to fit me in before my holiday. In this case, my gamble didn’t pay off: even if the lashes HAD been applied properly, though, I’m not convinced they’d have been the right look for me anyway, because it’s a LOT of look, basically. 

That’s not, of course, to say it won’t be for ANYONE: so, just to be clear, I’m not publishing this post to convince you that Russian Volume eyelash extensions will always be an unmitigated disaster – nope, I’m just doing it to point out that not all treatments will work for everyone, and that, if you’re thinking of having something like this done, that’s something to take into consideration. I mean, if you’re the kind of glamour-puss who always has a full face of makeup – complete with Kardashian-level contouring, and one of those white highlighter lines down your nose – even at 7am on a Tuesday morning, you could probably rock the volume lash look, no problem. As for me, though, well, I’m a middle-aged mum who just wanted to be able to go mascara-free on holiday. I think I can see now where I went wrong here…

If you’re thinking this is the end of my eyelash extension days, though, think again: I’ll definitely be getting another set before my next trip – I’ll just be sticking to my usual, much more subtle look (a.k.a. ‘Classic lashes’), and going back to my usual Lash Lady. I’ll probably keep a hold of that lash remover, too…

Shopbop sale

P.S. My sponsors at Shopbop are having another 3 day sale: I’m still refreshing the site every 5 minutes to see if my favourite Tory Burch boots have come back into stock, but I couldn’t wait any longer to order this wooden toolbox by Gift Boutique as one of Max’s Christmas/birthday gifts (No, we’re not doing joint gifts: I just haven’t decided yet which of the things I’ve bought him will be for Christmas, and which ones I’ll save for his birthday!). I’m also loving this dress by Free People,and this skirt by Vince, which is one of those fantastic “dress up/dress down” pieces. After Terry sat on my favourite sunglasses last week, I’m in the market for a new pair: my dream sunnies would be the Saint Laurent ‘Lou Lou’ glasses, but they’re just a little bit out of my budget, so these ones by Elizabeth and James might have to do instead. I also wish I’d had this dress by Sea for my holiday last week, and thisL’Agence jumpsuit might have come in handy, too. Finally, how gorgeous is the colour of this coat by Maggie Marilyn? And let’s not even talk about the matching skirt

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23 Comments
  • Ophelia
    December 12, 2018

    I am so sorry you had this bad experience. But also really grateful that you decided to share it with us! Your writing is, as always, amazing and your sense of humour makes those little mishaps some of my favorite posts to read.

    Thank you for blogging and providing never-ending entertainment and insights!

  • Debbie Carr
    December 12, 2018

    Oh that’s such a shame! These have definitely been done wrong. I’ve had Russian lashes for over 2 years and they come in different sizes and curls. They should tailor them to what suits your face. These look way too big for you. The person doing them should have known that. Also, to be honest, they do not look well applied either, they already look clumpy in the corners. 🙁 Bless you
    I love my Russian lashes, I’m sad that your experience ended in this way.
    Btw, for future lash issues, just apply some face cream which contains an oil and the lashes will come off 🙂 I’ve made that mistake before! But it’s good if you’re wanting them off! haha!
    Debs @ https://tiger-mint.com

  • Jennifer
    December 12, 2018

    I am sorry the lashes were such a disaster but, if it is any comfort, you brightened my entire day. I am sitting on my couch, shaking with laughter, trying to not laugh so loudly I wake my family up.

  • The Girl In The Tartan Scarf
    December 12, 2018

    Ok I am in hytersics! I’m surprised you managed to keep calm and remove them yourself, well done!😂🙌 Xx

  • Linda Libra Loca
    December 12, 2018

    While I am really sorry you lost so much money and time to this experience, I am forever grateful that from now on I will voice a loud and clear “Hell NO!” if I am ever asked if I want Russian Volume Lashes.

    Anne|Linda, Libra, Loca

  • Erin
    December 12, 2018

    OMG, I want to preface this by saying that I think you are truly so beautiful, but holy mother of everything those eyelashes are freaking terrible! I actually loled when I saw the first picture. Thank you for the warning because this legit sounds exactly like something I would try out thinking they would turn me into Twiggy. HA!

  • Maria
    December 12, 2018

    I think that the Russian Lash Lady just did an awful job with the lashes, I don’t think that the problem was too much volume… The lashes looked chunky, badly applied, like they were about to fall off. That doesn’t look like a professional job, like the ones that comes up if I search russian volume on google. So I don’t think it was your fault, just the Lady who should better her technique, or she’s gonna loose lots of potential clients, lol.

  • Barbara West
    December 12, 2018

    I have to agree with others. Although I had never heard of “Russian eyelashes” before, I don’t think your lash lady had a clue and even classic lashes would have turned out badly in her hands. Enjoy your holiday!

  • Myra
    December 12, 2018

    I haven’t laughed so much in ages as at this post. It was the drag queen comment, followed by your photo that did it. I’m glad you managed to salvage the Kardashian eyelash look before your holiday.

  • Brenda
    December 12, 2018

    The whole lash thing is getting a little out of control, I think! I think other people are thinking that too… a local salon posted a photo on FaceBook of some “new beautiful, voluminous” lash extensions — which were even more crazy than the ones you got — and the comments? Oh the comments! Hilarious! The salon actually took the post down. I totally understand the desire to have fuller lashes — I actually use Latisse (not sure if you can get it in Scotland) and have had good luck with it. Thanks so much for sharing your experience! You are very funny!

  • Lila Athanaselis
    December 12, 2018

    I had mines done for the first time last week and I too had a shock when I looked in the mirror, I thought what the hell have I done but said, oh wow very different, or something along those lines 😬
    When she was taking off some pieces of glue left under one eye it felt like I was being scraped with something metalic but it was only a cotton bud and some remover.
    My eye was left with marks like burns and was sensitive. The same day and next the glue was crusting over and a few ‘bunches’ of lashes had came out. I took pictures and was told to come back in.
    My whole left eye was done again and my other eye was just fine 🤔
    It may be the glue that caused them to look quite dark, the colour of the lashes used, the lengths chosen and the amount used.
    I was advised if those come out at all they may be too heavy for my eyes and to have semi-permanents put in. So far so good, I only had a ‘light’ set put in.
    I did advise them it might be a good idea to have an aftercare sheet made for how to look after these lashes, like brushing everyday, no oil based removers, no steam rooms, you can swim with them ect.
    Thank you as ever for your honesty, these accounts are so important to us all. So glad you are back to normal ❤️

  • Ghalia
    December 12, 2018

    Thank you for being brave enough to share this, because it had me in tears of laughter (although, your magnetic lashes blog posts remains my favourite and one that had me rolling with laughter the most).

    Side note, I don’t know if it’s the result of finding a beauty routine that works or not, but your make-up free face is looking fabulous, seriously.

  • Nicky
    December 12, 2018

    Hi this is well written but I’m actually really concerned that it will damage the businesses of people who do actual good russian and mixed eyelash extensions.

    • Amber
      December 12, 2018

      How so? I was very careful to make it clear that I had a bad experience purely because I didn’t research the salon properly, and I also stated that just because it didn’t work out for me, that doesn’t mean it won’t work out for anyone else. My post doesn’t slate Russian lashes in general – it’s just an honest account of my personal experience with one particular salon. I’m not sure how businesses who are good at what they do would be affected by that? It’s not about them?

  • What a terrible experience but thank you for sharing. I was thinking of having lashes done but am now put off completley. Hope you are now fully recovered from your experience – Jill x

  • Bry Jaimea
    December 13, 2018

    Amber, do you have any Aussie friends? Seriously, you need to take one of us (well, those of us from Sydney anyway) with you whenever any situ like this may happen, so we can put our foot down and demand a refund (or discount, at the very least) for you because, as you know, those lashes are beyond unaceptable! Gosh, I am so sorry you wasted not only your money but your TIME too! How Frustrating! xx
    That being said – your brows look FAB!

  • Kylie
    December 14, 2018

    I laughed so hard at this! Amber, you’re a treasure for sharing even the disasters with us, I’ve also stood staring in the bathroom mirror many times before thinking “what have I done?!”
    Once I was peer-pressured into letting a SEVEN YEAR OLD do my hair for some bizarre charity event, I was expecting some hair glitter and a mad ponytail, but no, they were armed with actual scissors and before I could yell “what the hell is wrong with you people?” the child had said “How about some layers?” hacked a chunk out of my hair and cut herself with the scissors, leaving me to scuttle away, horrified, as the idiots in charge deal with the carnage.

  • Andrea
    December 15, 2018

    Omg, Amber, do you know what hit me hardest about this post? When you called yourself a middle aged mum. I read it and it was like my brain didn’t compute, as if suddenly you wrote in another language, the idea that “middle aged” most mean something else in the U.K. crossed my mind. Surely, SURELY WE ARE STILL IN OUR TWENTIES AMBER, reviewing wrinkle creams with the caveat that obviously we don’t need eye cream yet. Then reality hit hard.

    • Amber
      December 15, 2018

      Oh, tell me about it – in my head, I’m still about 12: I keep expecting people to question whether I’m old enough to even be in charge of a baby 😩

  • Sora
    December 16, 2018

    I really do wonder what made that woman thing that was aesthetically pleasing! That sounds to me quite unprofessional!

    Sora | http://dangerouslyme.com/

  • Lizzy
    December 30, 2018

    Hi Amber. I saw that Catherine (Not Lamb) shared this post in her monthly round-up. I think you’re brilliant for writing and sharing this!!!! I would have reacted exactly the same and been too polite to say anything. And I would also have done everything possible to remove them too!!! Lots of love and thank you for sharing! xxxxx

  • Mary Katherine
    December 31, 2018

    Oh, dear Amber – bless your heart! as we say here in the South…I did roar with laughter, so hard that my husband (who’s never even SEEN a fashion/beauty blog in his life) had to come look over my shoulder, and proclaim O My God! Thank you SO much for sharing, not only for the comic relief but for the info value as well, and your helpful list of What to Actually Look For to actually do legit lash extensions (which I might be considering, as I’ve had NO luck with false eyelashes at all). And at least as funny was your description of how far British people will go Not To Be Difficult. I agree with the Aussie reader – you need some post-colonial friends to go get your money back (disclaimer here – whenever I want a discount or refund, I send in my incredibly polite but tenacious husband). Thanks SO much for sharing – I adore your blog, and also saw this thanks to Catherine (Not Lamb). I treasure you, dearie!

  • Shelbee on the Edge
    January 1, 2019

    What a fantastic post! I also am very glad that you shared your experience…and gave me a bit of a chuckle in the meantime…I have only tried false lashes one time myself and I do not like the feel of them at all! I will stick with daily mascara application! I found your page from Not Dressed as Lamb and am so very glad I did! Wishing you a very Happy New Year complete with fabulous lashes!

    Shelbee
    http://www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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