Lash extensions give your eyes a little twinkle while making you look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. But how long should you go?

Dionne Phillips

Lash queen Dionne Phillips

When it comes to lashes, how long is too long? With the rising popularity of growth serums like Latisse, and fashion’s quite unified take on bold lashes for the Fall/Winter 2011 runways (see makeup artist Pat McGrath’s spider-lash handiwork at Lanvin, Gucci and Valentino), it seems the brow’s the limit. But going extra-long can quickly go overboard.

For lash queen Dionne Phillips, who’s been doing lash extensions since she was a model in New York in the ’90s, “only going a millimeter or two longer than the natural lash length” is an ideal place to start. “You don’t want to hit the brow,” she cautions. “[The lashes] could tear off.” Phillips’ multi-length technique for enhanced but natural-looking lashes has garnered her a six-month waiting list and an enviable celebrity clientele (Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone, Christina Ricci, Rachel Zoe).

Spider lashes by Pat McGrath at Gucci's Fall/Winter 2011 show

Spider lashes by Pat McGrath at Gucci's Fall/Winter 2011 show

“Often the top lashes are contrast-y enough you don’t need lower ones—I suggest those if someone’s going to an event.” Phillips adds, “If the elasticity of the eyelid is droopy, I tend to apply lashes that are a little longer from the arch to the end of the eye toward the ear—that opens and lifts the eye up. If lashes are thin and fair, you don’t want to add anything that’s too thick, but you can still get the illusion of a thicker lash by using shorter lashes.” But all this beauty comes at a price: regular maintenance. “I usually see people every three weeks, but I have some clients who insist on coming back exactly every two weeks to maintain.” Phillips bonds individual lashes to existing hairs with an odorless medical adhesive that doesn’t sting or burn. But lash-seekers must understand these extensions are temporary: “Over time the hair’s going to grow out anyway, no matter how much glue you put on there.”