Pretreatment: Yes, You NEED Every Step
We understand why you might feel a little overwhelmed by all the different kinds of pretreatment on offer, and we can also understand why you may want to find some ways to save time on your lash sets but if you stick with us for just a minute, we’d love to tell you all about our tried, tested and globally loved 5-step pretreatment routine, including what can be skipped if you absolutely must skip something.
Step 1: Foam Lash Cleanser
Foam Cleanser is a really good product to have on hand if only because you can literally give it to your client to wash their own mascara off if they show up wearing some. Really though, Lash Shampoo will do you a world of favours when it comes to your pretreatment routine and can even be retailed to your clients to use for aftercare.
It’s gentle, it’s easy to use and it contains antibacterial Tea Tree Extract, meaning that it protects the eyes from things like blepharitis. When used during pretreatment, Foam Cleanser removes the vast majority of makeup, sebum and any other kinds of the dirt that can be present on the lashes so will actually save you time compared to using Protein Pads, Cleanser and Primer alone if you’re using it on clients who are wearing makeup when they arrive.
One thing to consider is that due to the Foam Cleanser containing Tea Tree extract, repeated use can be a little bit harsh for clients with very sensitive skin, so for them it might be worth looking into InLei Foam Cleanser instead, which still provides a gentle and thorough cleanse, but is a better fit for those with more sensitive skin.
Lash Shampoo can be used alone if you’re in a VERY tight pinch when it comes to time, (and, let’s face it, it does save you money as well compared to buying everything) but to be completely honest it’s just not as thorough by itself as you need your pretreatment to be for amazing retention. It’s worth noting too that Foam Cleanser is the only pretreatment product that needs to be rinsed, everything else is just applied to the lashes and left alone.
Step 2: Protein Remover Pads
Back in 2017 when I started at London Lash, this was the first step of a 3 step routine. Protein Remover Cleansing Pads basically do what they say on the tin - they remove proteins and cleanse the skin and lashes. Protein Pads are great to have on hand all the time - they can be used in pretreatment for other treatments such as Brow Henna and Lash Lift, and they are pretty powerful when it comes to getting rid of makeup on the lashes, they’re just not as gentle as a foam cleanser, admittedly.
Protein Pads are really impressive little things - they’re honestly one of my favourite products in the entire London Lash store because they are so effective, and you can actually do more with them than you’d think.
- Use them as they are to cleanse the skin and lash line - they’re especially good before full sets because you can really get in amongst the lashes for a deep clean. When it comes to infills, just be careful around the glue bonds and focus instead on the skin of the eye area - these will help your eyepatches to stay in place, so no annoying lifting of the corners!
- These pads have way more liquid in them than you see at first glance - for a really deep lash line cleanse, try pushing a cleansing brush into the top of the patches to pick up some of the liquid and you have an even deeper, targeted clean.
- Lastly, they do leave some liquid behind (you can even squeeze out excess liquid so you have more left over at the end) so you can use this with your cleansing brushes, or throw some cotton pads in there for some easy eye makeup removal at home!
For me, Protein Pads are a must, whatever your level - they’re so underrated for how excellent they are, especially considering that they cost you about £0.37 per treatment, if you’re only using the pads as they arrive.
Protein Pads - while brilliant - aren’t sufficient pretreatment on their own for eyelash extensions - they’ll not remove absolutely everything like you need them to!
Step 3: Cleanser
Another must. Cleanser is so important and regardless of what else you use during pretreatment, Cleanser must be used in conjunction with Primer. Any lash extensions supplies store you visit is highly likely to have Cleanser and Primer available, as they’ve been seen as the ultimate duo for lash retention since the birth of the lash industry.
One thing to note here is that there is some variation from lash brand to lash brand with regards to which of them is Cleanser, and which is Primer - they each have their own specific function with one being alcohol based, and one being water based.To that end, it’s worth checking with the individual brand which is which so that you know which to use first.
In our case, Cleanser is the alcohol based product which strips away any oils, leftover makeup and any dead skin cells and skincare residue etc. that can be present on the lashes, and might have been left behind by the Foam Cleanser and/or the Protein Pads.
Because Cleanser is alcohol based, it ends up being quite drying for the lashes, which is why it has to be followed by…
Step 4: Primer
Primer is the opposite to Cleanser - the Yin to Cleanser’s Yang - one can’t exist in completion without the other. We get a lot of people asking if they really need both (or either) and saying that they will only use Primer if their client has oily skin - the answer to that is always the same, and that’s that you absolutely do need both, regardless of skin or hair type.
Let’s say you apply Primer without cleanser - what you’re essentially doing is rinsing the lashes and giving them a little bit of extra softness without actually cleaning them. You’re doing yourself no favours at all, especially for clients with oily skin as you’re simply not removing any of that oil with Primer alone, which is going to mean that the extensions just slide right off as soon as they wash their lashes in the shower.
If you use Cleanser without following up with Primer (or if you use Primer and then Cleanser) you’re not really giving the glue much to work with in terms of hydration. As you know from your lash extensions training, eyelash extensions glue is cured by moisture, it’s why we have to keep a close eye on our humidity levels to make sure they’re not too high (making our glue dry super fast) and not too low (making our glue dry ever so slowly). Either scenario is undesirable where retention is concerned, but when your glue dries too slowly you’re increasing the risk of an untidy set where the lah has more time to lean to one side or the other, and you’re increasing the risk of your client having a chemical burn in the eyes as the glue fumes hang around for longer. When we say you must use Primer after Cleanser, we’re not joking!
Step 5: Booster
Comparatively, Booster is a newer product in the London Lash line, and is the most recent addition to our pretreatment routine - it’s been with us since 2019 so it’s not actually new, but considering Protein Pads, Cleanser and Primer featured in our first ever product line, it’s the baby of the bunch!
Booster quickly became a miracle product and a must-have for many lash techs when we launched it back in 2019 as a product designed specifically for enhancing work speed and retention times, in addition to being a must for anyone who found their fans closing on them.
Booster has an alkaline pH, which causes the cuticles of the lashes to open up slightly giving the glue more surface area to grip onto, extending retention times. While Booster seems like magic, it can’t actually perform miracles so it does need the lashes to be completely clean in order to work properly.
One thing we will say about Booster is that as it speeds up your working speed due to providing extra grip, it might not be a good addition for complete beginners - if you’re finding that your glue is starting to feel a little bit slow, but you’re not yet ready to move up the next glue, adding Booster to your routine might be a great compromise.
What Can You Skip?
While Foam Cleanser might be an okay one step pretreatment routine it’s not quite as thorough as you’d want for the best possible retention. To be honest, if you’re going to skip any step, skipping Foam Cleanser and going straight in with Protein Pads is okay, so long as you follow up with Cleanser and Primer.
You can skip Booster if you’re not ready for the extra speed, or if your client already has quite coarse hairs (this is super hard to tell on the lashes, so it’s always going to be a risk to assume this) - if you’re short on time this is a step that can be missed if it must be.
Remember that just because you can skip something doesn’t mean you should - a full and thorough pretreatment routine is your best weapon against poor retention. Remember that each of our products exists for a specific reason and to solve a specific lash problem - we’re lash techs ourselves and have always developed products with a view to improving your lashing experience. It’s better to speed up your work in other ways if you find yourself short on time.
In short, when it comes to pretreatment there aren’t really any steps we’d recommend skipping if you want to be known for incredible retention times. Besides, a great pretreatment routine provides a better experience for your clients overall so is great for business where reviews are concerned!