Is Lash Extension Pretreatment Really Important, Or Is It Just a Marketing Gimmick?

We understand that it’s only really in recent years that pretreatment has been well and truly pushed by lash brands as must-have products, and that it might feel a bit like a marketing ploy. But, as you know, the lash industry is constantly evolving, so advice can change to evolve with it! If we were to still be using older techniques, we wouldn’t even be isolating lashes! So, is pretreatment actually important? The short answer? Absolutely, it's necessary, and no, it's not just a scheme for lash suppliers to rake in some extra cash. However, we'll simply give you the facts and you can make your own conclusions, so let's dive in and do just that…

a lash trolley set up with lash prep products

What is Lash Prep?

First things first, we need to answer one essential question – what is lash prep? Lash Prep is precisely what it sounds like, it’s getting the natural lashes ready for the application of eyelash extensions. You might have heard that lash pretreatment is all about extending the life of your clients' lash extensions, and while that's definitely a big benefit, it's not the sole reason. There are four solid reasons to adopt a thorough lash prep routine, so let's explore them.

Reason 1: Retention

If you’ve heard us banging on about pretreatment, whether it be on our site or on our socials, then you’ll know that great prep goes hand in hand with amazing retention. The goal is for the lashes you apply to stick around for a long while, and your clients are counting on that longevity too. Without any lash prep, those extensions are likely to fall out after just a few days, if you're lucky, because you’re essentially adhering the lash extensions to the dirt on the natural lashes rather than the actual lashes themselves.

Diagram of lash extensions adhering to a dirt lash

You may be thinking, “Well, I tell my clients to come in makeup-free”. Of course that helps, but even if your clients show up makeup-free and claim they've washed their face beforehand, what's the harm in a bit of lash prep? Even the cleanest-looking lashes might harbor invisible residue from makeup, lash serums, or skincare products, so it's definitely worth giving those lashes a quick cleanse, even if it's just with some Lash Shampoo.

We get the skepticism some Lash Techs may have about lash prep being unnecessary or just a way for brands to make a quick buck. We're Lash Techs too, and we've been in your shoes – struggling with retention, maybe even losing clients over it, and not knowing which products are actually worth the hype. We don't want that for you, which is why a solid lash prep routine is crucial for great lash retention, which in turn will keep your clients coming back. So why do we recommend a 5-step lash pretreatment routine?

While you don't need to use every product in this 5-step routine on every client, each step does plays a vital role.

Pretreatment step-by-step routine

Lash Shampoo: Cleansing the lashes and the skin around the eyes before treatment is crucial, and Lash Shampoo does exactly that. It helps to ensure that your eyepatches and/or tape stay put, and that the glue bonds properly to the lashes. While Lash Shampoo can be a standalone step if you're in a bind and short on time, if you want a thorough cleanse that guarantees long-lasting lash extensions, then you'll need to incorporate additional steps to assure those lashes are completely free from any leftover oils, makeup residue, skincare products, and dead skin cells. If you think about it, using a Lash Shampoo is exactly like using a makeup remover on your skin, and following it with Protein Removing Pads is akin to going in with a face wash afterwards.


Protein Removing Cleansing Pads: These offer a deeper cleanse than Lash Shampoo, especially along the lash line. If you have to skip the shampoo, you should at least use Protein Pads to cleanse your clients' skin and lashes.


Lash Cleanser: Skipping the first two steps will probably make it hard to keep your eyepatches or tape in place, but you absolutely need to use a Cleanser if you want the lash extensions to adhere correctly. Cleanser is alcohol-based and strips everything from the lashes, leaving only the surface of the natural lashes for the glue to bond with, which in turn will help with improving retention.


Lash Primer: A Lash Primer MUST be after used after applying a Lash Cleanser, as Cleanser can be really drying for the lashes. Primer reintroduces moisture that will rehydrate the lashes to create the perfect base for the glue to cure and adhere to properly. Using Lash Primer also helps with avoiding issues like your glue drying too slowly, which can really mess up your work!


Booster:Whilst this 5th step is important, it is also optional as we don’t recommend beginners using this product due to it's ability to speed up the drying time of your glue which can potentially compromise your retention. For experienced Lash Techs, we recommend using Booster because it can further extend retention time by slightly opening the hair cuticles to give the glue more surface area to grip onto.

If you want a more in-depth look into each of the products that we’ve mentioned above, check out this blog post!

Model using lash primer and cleanser for lash extensions

Reason 2: Client Experience

Like any beauty treatment, the prep work significantly affects the overall experience for your clients. Skipping steps in a facial or manicure can lead to disappointment – your Nail Tech wouldn’t start applying gel polish without prepping or filing your nails first! Similarly, lash appointments should feel luxurious for your clients and not like a chore. A thorough lash prep routine will not only relax your clients, but also improve their lash retention and showcase your professionalism.

It's also important that you don't assume that your clients won't notice the difference between you performing pretreatment on their lashes, and you skipping this vital step! In today's world, clients are more likely to know when they're receiving a quality service – they can read reviews, book appointments with the touch of a button, and easily find another Lash Tech that fulfils their lash needs. You might get away with it initially with a first-time client who doesn't know about lash prep and might not notice its absence, but if they experience a lash service elsewhere with a Lash Tech who does perform a thorough pretreatment routine, it's highly likely that they won't be coming back to you! Skipping lash prep puts you at greater risk of receiving negative reviews and having one-time visits from clients who don't come back, when you could be building a loyal client base by making each of your clients feel valued. Being the tech who provides that superior, lasting experience (that includes pretreatment!), can earn you a client for life. 

Model holding a Lash primer and cleanser

Reason 3: Client Health And Hygiene

Beyond the overall experience and aesthetics, skipping lash prep can jeopordize your clients' safety. A clean lash area is crucial for preventing infections, since working close to the eyes with unclean lashes can increase your clients' risk of developing one.

Neglecting lash prep can also give your clients the impression that you might be cutting corners elsewhere as well, which can undermine their confidence in your services. Skipping pretreatment could also give the perception that you may not care about the cleanliness of your tools, the quality of your products, and the depth of your knowledge. This is why it's essential to demonstrate your commitment to the safety and satisfaction of your clients from their very first inquiry, all the way through to their next booking.

Applying lash primer to the lashes

Reason 4: Pretreatment Encourages Aftercare

A Lash Technician's commitment to thorough and meticulous lash prep will not only provide a successful lash application process, but also set a standard for the aftercare that your clients are likely to continue by serving as a pivotal moment for educating them about the importance of aftercare. When you take the time to perform a thorough pretreatment, it will naturally lead to a discussion about the significance of maintaining that cleanliness and care at home. This proactive approach does more than just extend the life of those lash extensions; it fosters a culture of aftercare that benefits both clients and technicians in several ways.

Additionally, when your clients return with lashes that have been well cared for, it significantly reduces the likelihood of you encountering dirty lashes during a fill appointment, which is definitely a pet peeve for many Lash Techs! You won't have to spend as much time cleaning, and instead can put that time to better use applying new extensions, which in turn will help to speed up the appointment time without compromising quality. By minimizing the possibility of applying extensions onto unclean lashes, you'll also avoid the risk of compromising the health of your clients' natural lashes with potential infections or irritations.

Lash shampoo on a Mascara wand for cleaning the lashes

As we previously mentioned, the lash industry will continue to evolve with new products and techniques emerging regularly. Over the past decade, significant advancements have been made to ensure the safety of eyelash extensions, including the emphasis on proper cleansing for promoting the health and hygiene of your clients. We've seen the negative consequences of neglecting lash prep, and we don't want that experience for either you or your clients. This is why we've always been an advocate for thorough lash prep, and we hope that you'll consider its importance with an open mind.

If you’ve followed all of our advice and your lash prep still isn’t working as well as you'd hoped it would, then check out this blog post!