There’s much more to being a lash technician than mastering the skill of how to successfully apply lash extensions to natural lashes. Equally important is the artistry of how to create the perfect shaped set of lashes for each individual client, for which you’ll need to master lash mapping.
Lash mapping is a technique for planning which lengths, curls and thicknesses you will use where, in order to create a fabulous set of eyelash extensions with the style and the level of drama that your client desires - and that is also suited to their eye shape and natural eyelashes.
We’ll take you through exactly how to do lash mapping - and some popular lash maps.
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What you'll need for lash mapping:
- Eyeliner or pencil. This is for mapping on the skin first.
- Gel pads. These are placed over the lower lashes while you work.
- A coloured pen. This is for marking on the gel pad - you want a colour that will contrast with the eyelashes - red is a good choice. We recommend avoiding black pen if you can as your markings will be harder to spot, but if it’s all you have, place your markers further away from the lashes.
- Lash extensions. You’ll need various lengths and curls.
What to check before you start lash mapping
No doubt your client will have asked you for something in particular. However, first, you need to assess a number of different aspects of your client’s face and eyes to determine whether what they have asked for will suit them, and if it won’t… find out what will!
Ask your client to sit still for a minute while you take a good look to assess the following:
Eye shape. The main eye shapes are round, almond, monolid. Check also for hooded and protruding eyes, and whether they are symmetrical, large or small eyes.
Eye angle. Their eyes may be straight, slightly upturned, or slightly downturned.
Eye-spacing. Evenly-spaced eyes have one eye’s width in between each eye. Close-set / narrow-set eyes are closer together than one eye-width, wide-set eyes have more than one eye width between them.
Natural lash strength. Your client may desire very long or very full lashes, but depending on the strength / health of their natural lashes they may not be able to support them. Fine, delicate lashes won't be able to support the weight of 12mm or 13mm length extensions.
Natural lash curl. The growing direction of natural eyelashes varies between people. Some people have naturally curly lashes while others have quite straight or downward-pointing lashes. Choosing the right lash curls for their lashes will bring out the best in their eyes, and ensure their eyes do not get hidden by lash extensions - or look strange!
Brow shape. As they frame the eye, it’s also important to consider the shape of the eyebrows and to select a shaping that will complement it.
Face shape. Wide faces can carry more dramatic looks on the whole, whereas a very narrow face may look overwhelmed by very long lashes or a wide cat eye.
Before beginning the lash mapping process, be sure to consult with your client. See what they want, but be prepared to advise them otherwise if necessary. Longer isn't always better and the style they want may not look best on them.
Once you have evaluated your client as above, have a chat with them about the look you are going to create for them. Explain any adjustments that you need to make to what they have asked for, and why.
How to create a lash map
So you’ve thoroughly assessed your client’s eyes and got a good idea of the design you want to create - and made sure your client is on board. Your next job is to make a more detailed plan for how you are going to achieve this. Follow our step-by-step guide:
1. Lash mapping on the skin
Instruct your client to sit up straight, with their eyes open and looking straight ahead - not following the motion of your hands. If you attempt to do this with your client lying down, you won’t get an accurate impression of your client’s facial features.
With the client’s eyes open, place dots above where you want the longest lashes to be. Place them either close to the eyebrows or, if lashes and eyelids were washed before mapping, dots can be marked close to the lash line. You can place several dots depending on the style you choose, to mark where the different sections should go.
This is a helpful guide for later when the client closes their eyes and you can no longer see the iris or the pupil which are the main indicators you need for lash mapping.
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2. Apply eye pads
With your client's eyes open, put the gel pads gently in place so they are covering the lower lashes. Press lightly so that the pads will remain in place, but keep the pressure soft - you're working with eyes, after all. Keep eye pads at least 1-2mm from the waterline.
3. Lash mapping on the gel pads
Now it’s time for your client to close their eyes. With your coloured pen, exactly mirror the markings you made on the skin on your gel pad. When your client has their eyes closed, you might be tempted to think that the locations of the dots don’t seem right anymore, for example, the middle of the lash line might not look like it’s at the same point. However, stick with the locations of the dots as what’s important is how it looks when the eyes are open.
Now draw lines on the gel pad to plan which extensions you will apply where. You need to divide the area into sections - 5, 6 or maybe more depending on your style and how you have been taught. Jot down the lengths for each section, as well as the curls, if you like, following the style that you have chosen to suit your client.
Eyelash extension mapping styles
Luckily, there’s no need to re-write the rulebook - there are lots of lash maps already out there to achieve different designs, though you may need to adapt them to suit your client.
Cat Eye Lash Map
Probably the most popular style out there, Cat Eye lashes start with the shortest lashes at the inner corners, gradually getting longer at the outer corners creating a sexy winged look that extends out. A less dramatic version of this is sometimes called a Kitten Eye.
Squirrel Eye Lash Map
Also known as a Flick. Whereas Cat Eye lashes are longest at the outer corners, A Squirrel Eye is longest around two-thirds of the way along the lash line, or at the arch of the brow if brows are perfectly shaped, with lashes tapering slightly shorter again at the outer corner.
Doll Eye Lash Map
Also known as a ‘Dolly Eye’, this style of lashing is longest above the centre of the eye, and shorter at each corner, giving a rounded, big-eyed look. It can be quite dramatic when used with longer lengths, or very natural looking with shorter lengths when it is known as simply rounded or natural lashes.
Kim K Lash Map
This style has taken off big time in recent years! It features a base layer of lashes that is interspersed with ‘spikes’ of longer length lashes at regular intervals for a super feminine, glamorous look. Also known as ‘wispy’ lashes. Read our Kim K lash style tips.
Tips to get started with lash mapping
The golden rule of working with lashes is that every client is different. Your eyelashes should be as unique as your hairstyle, so there's no point looking for a one size fits all solution.
Here we bust some myths, as well as give you some handy hints that will generally always work.
- Never go straight to mapping on eye pads. If you skip the first stage of mapping onto the skin with the eyes open you can be sure that the finished look will not look right!
- Short to long is not always best. Many eyelash artists start with the idea that they should be going from the shortest to the longest eyelashes as they move from the inner corner of the eye to the outer corner. However, this only looks good on some eye shapes. For example, eyes with a slight downward turn can look droopy or tired if treated like this.
- Neither is following the natural lash length. A client’s natural lash shape won’t necessarily look good if all you do is lengthen each lash proportionately. It can make the client look sad - or funny - which is the last thing you want!
- Longer is not always better. Short lengths can be very effective. Eyelashes that are too long can look too unnatural, and the goal of eyelash extensions is to give a ‘facelift’, enhancing beauty, not imperfections. In some cases, it’s very important to choose extensions that are shorter than the natural lash, especially in the inner and outer corners.
- Take care at the inner corner of the eye. Here, extensions should be close to the natural eyelash length but don’t be afraid of short lengths as they can create an eyeliner illusion. If styled correctly, they can look very long and eye-opening. Also consider thinner diameter extensions such as 0.05, 0.04 or 0.03. If you’re using classic lashes, use the thinnest diameter in the inner and outer corners. For volume or mega volume lashes where most of your set is 4D+, use no bigger than 1 or 2D fans in the corners.
- Choose your curls wisely. If the natural lashes are growing in a downward direction then it is best to use CC or D curls for example. Bear in mind that you may need to use different curls on each eye, and across the lash line of the same eye.
- Make close-set eyes look further apart. They benefit from length at the outer corners or having the longest lengths at the arch of the brow, which can make the eyes look wider. This doesn’t necessarily mean always choosing a Cat Eye style that’s longest at the very outer edge. Learn more with our Advanced Volume Training Course.
- Make wide-set eyes look closer together. Wide-set eyes look better with eyelashes that are longer in the middle, such as a Dolly look.
- Beware of making almond eyes seem wider. Almond-shaped eyes do not always go well with long eyelashes at the outer corner. The eyelashes should be at their longest about two-thirds of the way along the eye, before shortening slightly again, as in a Squirrel Eye.
Applying the lash extensions
When you have created your lash map on the eye pads for the desired style, following the initial skin lash map, it’s time to apply the lashes of course! There are many different approaches, so use your preferred technique, whether that be to complete all the extensions on one eye before moving on to the next, (not recommended for beginners), or to move between eyes as you go. You might like to apply the same lash on each eye in turn (great for symmetry!) or to do the first lash from each section on one eye, then do the same on the other.
Whichever technique you favour, make sure to graduate the lashes as you move from one section to the next. That means alternating between two different lengths for the space of a few lashes. If you don't do this, then the finished look will be uneven and jarring.
It can take time to learn how to apply lashes following a lash map. Don't be disheartened if your initial efforts aren't the best. Remember, all art takes practice to master. Keep going, and you're sure to see better and better results!