Volume lash extensions have single stems which are attached to each of your natural eyelashes, just like single extensions. But instead of one extended lash, volume lash extensions come with a fan of lashes on a stem. The therapist fans out these lashes when she attaches the stem. As the name implies, when the therapist fans out the lashes, the result is to add volume to the look of your eyelashes. You will often hear this technique referred to as ‘Russian volume’, because Russia is where it was first developed.
As with the traditional single lash extension, there is a single stem which is wrapped round the natural eyelash and fixed with glue. But instead of having just one single extension at the end, Russian volume extension has multiple, much finer, extensions – from 2 to 8. As a result, Russian volume lashes have a fluffy, soft look to them.
When the therapist attaches the lash to your natural lash, she also fans out the hairs, using specially designed tweezers. This creates a bouquet of hairs, which is what gives Russian volume its dramatic soft and fluffy effect. It works because six hairs on a Russian volume stem can weigh less than a traditional single extension. Several Russian volume lashes won’t weigh down your natural lashes any more than a single lash extension, because the Russian volume lash hairs are thinner. 0.07mm diameter lashes are often used.
Volume extensions are usually darker than single lash extensions, making the effect more striking.
It is best not to attempt to put extensions on the natural lashes right at the inner corner of the eyes which are too delicate to sustain volume fans.
You will find Russian volume lash extensions referred to as 2-D, 3-D etc. I don’t know what the ‘-D’ is all about, but the number tells you how many lashes the fan contains. 2-D means two hairs on the stem, 3-D means three hairs … and so on. (Size ‘6-D’ is also known as a ‘Hollywood’.)
What size fan can you have?
You start off by working out what single lash extension your eyes can bear. Basically, they are:
- 0.10mm for very weak natural lashes.
- 0.12mm for weak natural lash.
- 0.15mm for a healthy natural lash.
- 0.20mm for strong natural lash.
Suppose that your eyelashes can comfortably carry lash extension of 0.15mm in width. How many Russian volume lashes can you have instead? Now consider Russian volume fans which have hairs which are 0.07mm in width. You might think that you could only carry a fan with two of those hairs, because (0.07+0.07 = 0.14). But that’s wrong. A lash extension is circular and 0.15mm is merely the diameter – the length across its widest points. When working out how many Russian volume lashes you can have, the true issue isn’t diameter, it’s volume.
Let’s imagine you had an empty tin which was 0.15mm across, and you had sausages which were 0.07mm across. You wouldn’t say ‘2 times 0.07mm is 0.14mm, so I can only get two sausages into the 0.15mm tin That is because you don’t just put sausages across the central line, you pack them right around the rim and in between. In fact, you might get eight sausages into the tin very comfortably. It’s the same with Russian volume extensions. Several 0.07mm hairs on a fan take up only the same space as one 0.15 single extension – and therefore roughly the same weight.
Let me give you a very rough guide. Let’s make two reasonable assumptions about your Russian volume lashes:
- the lashes are 12mm long, which is about the longest you would normally want to use
- the lashes will be 0.07mm wide.
Then these are the sort of fans you could expect to go for.
- With weak natural lashes, you could carry a 3-D fan, which is usually enough for most people. Even with very weak natural lashes, you could still carry a 2-D fan. If you wanted more hairs, you could reduce to a 0.06mm lash with a 3-D fan.
- If you have normal healthy lashes, you can have a 4-D fan.
- If you are one of the lucky few with very strong natural lashes, then you can have the widest choice of fans sizes and could carry an 8-D fan.
The standard fan is a ‘V’-shaped fan. It should have a gap of about 1 mm between each lash. But you can have wider or narrower fans.
Wider fans have a 1.5 mm gap or more. Wider fans create a fluffier, softer, ‘messier’ look. Wider fans increase the impression of fuller lashes. They may be suitable for people with sparse lashes, who need a lot of new lashes along the lash line. Fans which are too wide and overlap too much can look very messy and it can become difficult to attach them to the natural lashes underneath.
A narrow fan is useful at the outer and inner corners of the eyes to avoid fans of hairs hanging at the outer edge. You might want to go the narrower fans if you want a very sharp and dramatic look. Narrow fans create a very uniform dense and dark look. They will only really work if you have a lot of natural lashes.
Strangely, shorter lashes give the greater impression of fullness than longer ones.
If you use different lengths, you should increase them and decrease them 1 mm at a time to avoid the appearance of a jagged edge.
Russian volume lashes are not the best choice for everyone.
There are reasons why you do not necessarily want the maximum number of Russian volume eyelash extensions, or the maximum number of hairs per lash.
A dense Russian volume look is going to work best on someone with wide set eyes and high cheekbones. Someone with close set and deep-set eyes won’t benefit from the dark intensity of a Russian volume look, because the heavier design always risks making the eyes appear closer together.
Celebrities who use Russian volume usually don’t go for more than a 3-D set. Or they blend a few volume lashes in among the single lashes. This is to avoid making the eyes appear to shrink. Mixing individual and Russian volume lashes may be a great way to achieve dramatic and beautiful emphasis for your eye.
What is best for you: Single extensions or Russian volume extensions?
If you prefer a ‘has she, or hasn’t she?’ style of lash extension, then single extensions are going to be better for you.
Classic individual lashes are suitable for you if you have a lot of healthy natural lashes with very few gaps, and you’re looking for a natural look for your eyes.
Russian volume is ideal for someone older whose lashes are thin or sparse. The extra fans can help fill the eyelash line out much better than single extensions could.
Russian volume lashes will not necessarily last as long as single lash extensions. A single lash extension will probably be bonded so that it wraps around the natural eyelash, and this means there is glue round a large part of the natural eyelash. With Russian volume lashes, it is different. Russian volume lashes are only applied with a small dab of glue. So, the bond for a Russian volume lash is inevitably slightly weaker.
The loss of one Russian volume lash, means the loss of the whole fan of 2 to 8 hairs, so the effect of a lost extension can be more noticeable than the loss of a traditional single lash extension.
This means that infills may be required more frequently. In practice, infills are often needed after 4 to 6 weeks.