Are Premades Destroying the Lash Industry?

By Kayla Smith

Are Premades Destroying the Lash Industry?

We recently came under fire from an artist online claiming that lash brands selling premades are destroying the industry. We wanted to write this for anyone that has ever faced scrutiny in what they use as a lash artist, especially premades which have been a sore spot for many artists and polarizing in their use. What defines a good lash artist to begin with? I argue that great service providers are those who can determine the right tools to use in their arsenal, have proper education, and do right by the client by giving them clean work and a positive experience. If you fit within those parameters, you have nothing to worry about. 

My desire in writing this piece is to expose the ongoing misunderstanding that a staggering amount of people share surrounding the difficult and nuanced subject of premades. As someone who was a hardcore “Russian handmades for life” type of lasher for 5 years before touching premades, bashing them online any chance I had, and the many experiences of my own that perpetuated my perennial hatred towards them – I can now truthfully share my knowledge of what premades mean for us as lash artists. 

Why did I hate premades?

My first experiences with them were the typical foreign fill walking in the door where the client painfully describes the very real trauma they were dealing with after going to “an experienced artist” who then is gluing all of their lashes together using (you guessed it) premades. It’s to be expected that when you see the same type of client walking in the door on a weekly basis having the same complaint over and over again, with the same familiar amalgamation of ingredients, that you would then become disdainful of premades. Not only did I feel like they were irresponsibly used, but the types of premades that were being placed on these clients were outdated factory made glue-blonded premades with a giant chunk of glue at the base which reminds me of fat blood-sucking ticks I used to find on my dogs when we lived in the countryside. Imagine seeing that but 30+ of them on someone's eyes.


I was absolutely that person who wanted nothing more than for premades to just go away and never come back. I even took a hard stance and promised myself that I wanted to be the person in my city to wage a war on premades. I wanted to deter clients from getting them by educating the public, using my online platform, as well as teaching fundamental handmade Russian volume in group classes. I went as far as signing a three year lease agreement on a 2000 square ft. commercial building where I could use the back half of the space to convert into a training center for local artists to come learn volume lashing without the use of premades – all handmade, baby. I busted my ass learning everything I possibly could about handmade lashing using modern and traditional fanning techniques over my five year career. I even traveled to multiple Russian classes spending many thousands of dollars learning from the absolute highest respected volume educators in the United States. I took multiple online Russian courses as well and slaved away practicing my craft until I knew I was the best lash artist I could be and arguably the best artist in my city regarding handmade Russian lashing.

By the end of 2022, I started to see an enormous push of premades from multiple brands that initiated the incorporation of them into their product lines. There were already a few pioneer brands that were selling premade lash extensions (and at the time it was very controversial to do so), but seeing them become more standardized across the industry by large companies that never had them before was shocking to me. My first thoughts were: “Is this a money grab?”, “Do they understand what they are doing by offering this?”, “New artists are not going to want to ever learn handmaking if this becomes more available!” And so on. It was borderline infuriating. But, trying to steer away from a black and white thinking, I was willing to be open to learning more about the subject so I could take an educated approach. 

Why is there so much hatred/discourse surrounding premades?

Analyzing what happened not even a year ago reminds me of when I was younger, in my teens and early twenties, watching older generations who were not keen on new technology or trends simply because it was something new and out of their comfort zone. Ironically, when premades were being pushed by these brands last year, I was actually turning into that very person whom I found so immature for not being open to revolutionizing the world with progress. Of course change hurts! That’s why so many people aren’t open to it. It forces you to adapt away from a process you’re so used to doing. Our brains are quite literally designed to find habituations that we can then mature into maximum productivity. The moment a wrench is thrown into the theoretical machine, it makes you have to somewhat “start over” in those processes that may have taken years to master. 

There’s no coincidence the introduction of premades has been hard to receive. It’s scientifically how the human brain reacts transitionally to something new. We have a part of the brain called the amygdala which interprets change as a threat and releases the hormones for fear. Your body and mind are “protecting” you from change. 

Here is a quote from David Rock, the founder of Results Coaching Systems:

“The more you try to convince people that you’re right and they’re wrong, the more they push back. Even well-meaning advice quickly raises warning flags in the prefrontal cortex that it is soon going to become overloaded and exhausted. Our brains are so complex that it’s rare for us to be able to see any situation in exactly the same way… So when we get advice from people, we’re always finding ways that the advice doesn’t match up with our own experience or expectations."

And one from Ethan Chazin:

“Doing what we know and are familiar with hurts less, because its comfortingly predictable. Doing things the old way, the way we’ve always done it before is performed by our basal ganglia and that requires us to burns much less less glucose than forcing us to manage (deal with) change which would force the prefrontal cortex to have to get working.”

Those two quotes pretty much sum it up for me. The discourse we see in the world of lash extensions surrounding premades is nothing more than human beings being human. Much of the stress and chaos that surrounds the topic and use of premades may very well die down in the next five to ten years when artists have had time to process the change. However, there will always be a group of people that never ever ever ever capitulate because of their self-importance and ritual.

The question I want to pose for anyone that is convinced that premades are the problem is this:

When a hair stylist completely melts off someone's hair, what or who do we blame? What is the root cause? (no pun intended)

The stylist (person) or the bleach (object)?

I have not once in my life heard of anyone bashing or blaming the bleach as the issue for why someone's hair melted off. In fact, I can simplify the blame into two categories: The client's fault for not doing their research and choosing someone inexperienced/uneducated OR the hair stylist's fault for misusing the bleach for whatever reason. Why is it that in this case, we do not place the blame on the product? I see no difference in the dilemma at hand because they are fundamentally the exact same issue. A person is abusing or mishandling their tool that could otherwise create a beautiful end result with minimal damage. And yet we are still fighting against the very tools that can allow us to move forward in innovation.

Just a thought.

Why did I start using premades?

You may be wondering... what changed my mind on premades? The answer is pretty simple: Seeing the new technology and drastic changes in quality coming into the market. The lash fiber being used to produce premades was changing (what felt like) overnight. The curl was starting to hold better. The bases were as tight and bundled as they could possibly get and heat-bonded (read more on why this matters in the article Everything You Need to Know About Premade Volume Fans). The level of variation you can choose from in the pool of premades gave artists a chance to pick them based on preference without the worry of only being able to use something bad quality or one type of base. Even the minute detail of their taper was similar to fiber used for handmades. The cherry on top was their ability to be customized. Premade fans were and are becoming hard to decipher between handmade by an artist or handmade in a factory. And this all is due to brands and individuals demanding a change in quality, challenging factories to produce new techniques of manufacturing – which might I add takes years of engineering on their end. 


How new is the lash industry?

What most lash artists have yet to understand is just how infantile our industry is under the umbrella of beauty services. Cosmetology and hair styling has been around for thousands of years. The use of cosmetics is also something we’ve had for roughly that long. The macro production of cosmo tools and professional products has been going on for the better part of over a hundred years. Volume lash extensions? They can be charted back to roughly 2011 in Russia. If we go based on this number alone, volume lashing is less than 12 years old. I need you to think about that for a second. We are at the very beginning stages of a worldwide phenomenon that is only getting more popular by the day. Major brands or investors that establish themselves in these starting years have the power and probability to become multi-million dollar companies (some already have). And it only gets bigger from there. As the demand for lash extensions grows larger, more people will learn the craft. The more artists, the larger the need for tools and technology. Lash extensions is likely one of the fastest growing industries we have in the current day (currently estimated to be a little over $1 Billion), and it’s still nowhere near the level of the nail or hair industry (estimated $53.6 Billion in 2022).

With that in mind, there is an unyielding and rapid ascension in knowledge and innovation taking place here. To be unwilling to accept change may very well be a toxic behavior that detrimentally affects the person who can’t move forward. Ever wonder why it takes on average 100 years (give or take) for significant policy changes in government to occur over some of the most basic ideas? It’s for the same reason we are so scared to admit that premades are a permanent staple in the way people lash – people cannot stand change.

With our collective demand, premades are much more convincingly approaching a level of “Russian handmades” that it even blows me away, hence why I had to try them. The moment I picked up a 5D Narrow Sharp Stem premade fan, picked it apart, read it to filth, then placed it on my client, I knew right then and there something had changed inside of me. I wanted nothing more than to relax my mind and make my job easier. 

What can premades do for your routine?

Around this time I started to dabble in premades, I was already experiencing a depressive episode and my mental health was extremely fragile. My lashing schedule was completely full and I was seeing 4-5 clients a day, working 8 hour days, five days a week. I came into work and had little to no desire to be there, but I knew I had to because my bills relied on it. This is going to sound very dramatic but I mean it in the most sincere and open-hearted way: when premades entered my life, it made my daily battle of suicidal ideation much calmer. Premades didn’t make it go away or cure my depression, but the ease and efficiency they gave me took away palpable pressure and stress off of me. I was starting to see 30 minutes or more shaved down off of my 90 minute and 120 minute fills for clients. The clients were getting their fills done faster and those small breaks I could get in between them was so refreshing, especially when you work back to back with clients like I did.

Learning to incorporate premades into my routine meant that I could pick and choose utilizing them for the right occasion. For example: I might have a client that was running 15 min late but it didn’t worry me anymore because I could use premades to get her lashes full regardless. If I was having a bad mental health day or I was anxious and needed to speed up the appointment, I could simply pull out my tile of premades and get the client done without the mental fortitude it requires to execute handmaking every single fan.

Lashing for five years does take a toll on you mentally and physically, and for some people it’s sooner, others it could be later – say ten years. No matter what, you will get to a point where you ask yourself, “Why am I punishing myself for no good reason? Do I have to suffer in order to prove myself as an artist? Am I not allowed to use premades simply because it makes someone else perceive me as less than? Why is my artistic value hinged on whether or not I use a handmade or a premade?" As long as I know my lash sets are fully isolated, properly placed and weighted, and my client is happy with her end result, not in any pain, and has good retention, does it really matter the perception someone else has of me? These are all questions that I’m sure many of us share because of the continued perpetuation and myth that premades = cheap, cutting corners, or unprofessional.

Do I only use premades now?

I do not exclusively use premades, but I have learned to accept them as a tool that some people use for their own reasons. I know now that I cannot generalize or blanket all premades as being bad. Sure, there are still premades being produced with outdated fan structures and cheap quality fiber. The same goes for any industry or product. There will always be a cheaper and worse quality option for everything that exists. It’s up to us to decipher what we should be using and make that judgment call for ourselves and our business. What you place on your client is up to you as the artist. What you buy can sometimes be trial and error but finding a reliable resource for the tools you buy is part of your job as a service provider. 


Why do some artists gatekeep the use of premade fans?

To put it simply, artists that feel as if they have earned their title of "master lash artist" through the years of effort it took to bloom their career, all of the precision it requires to handmake, the literal blood, sweat, and tears they endured to get where they are – they don't want it to be undermined by someone coming in and using an easier method. A lash artist starting out and immediately offering volume lashing without years of hard work practicing their handmaking skills, it can come off as "cheating" or "cutting corners" in the eyes of a handmaker. But there is nothing more demeaning and damaging than trying to prevent an artist from doing their job simply because someone doesn't think they deserve to. The moment you are trying to place heirachy on what tools you use to perform a service, you are treading alarmingly close to waters of ableism and classism. The use of premade fans is no longer a point that can be used to describe someone of "moral failure." But rather, if you are a die-hard "handmaker for lyfe" like I was, it's time we open up to the idea that premade fans can, in fact, be just as rewarding and beautiful as a gorgeous handmade fan.

Now that I’ve shared my own history regarding the topic, let’s move on to the actual facts of the matter. And keep in mind, this is coming from an unbiased and analytical place as someone who has an affinity for handmade lashes. I’m going to give you my interpretation on why premades are NOT destroying the lash industry – lack of education is.

Are handmades inherently better than premades?

If you're read this far and can contemplate the nuances that go into the selection of a quality product, the responsible use of that product, then you can agree that there is no technique that is "better" than the other. What it comes down to is truly preference. Because what we haven't mentioned yet is that there is always a way to abuse lash extensions no matter what you use. Handmade lashes can be just as damaging and dangerous depending on the person who is using them. Want the perfect example? Throw clumps of handmades onto the eye in a quick amount of time without isolation and this is what it can look like:

This client came to a few years ago after she was tempted in a cheap price tag and a 30 minute full set. The lash artist handmade every single fan but she was gluing all the natural lashes together. Which in-turn, causes the hair follicles to be stressed out and painful because there was no attention to detail in the set.

Handmade lashing is a serious skill that takes many years to master. I give kudos to anyone and everyone that has taken the time to nurture their handmade art. Here is what handmade can also look like if you take your time, isolate, and not limit yourself on short timing to complete the job. Just for reference, this set was completed in just under three hours:

What are premades, handmades, promades?

PREMADES: A fan that is handmade in a lab or factory by a person, typically mass produced to then be shipped directly to a distributor (aka a lash company), that then is sold directly to professional lash artists for use on their clients. 

HANDMADES: A fan that is created during an appointment by the lash artist and placed directly on the client

PROMADES: A fan that is created during an appointment by the lash artist, crystallized (the sealing of a base using glue), and potentially stored for later use on a client

Who uses premades?

  • Someone new at lashing
  • Someone who wants to learn handmade but still wants to offer volume lashing while they are in the learning phase
  • Advanced lashers who want to save time on lash sets
  • Some who has a cognitive or physical disability
  • Anyone who cannot make a handmade fan for any reason

What does responsible lashing look like?

  • Artist has accumulation of licensing and training(s)
  • Artist has time and experience doing the job
  • Artist is acquainted with appropriate tools for job
  • Artist is not rushing to complete their service
  • Extensions are isolated and no two lashes are glued together
  • Extensions are properly weighted
  • Extensions are properly placed with a good bond
  • Extensions are not using too much glue to create a seamless base
  • Client is getting their money's worth with good retention
  • Client is educated on what lashes are supposed to look/feel like
  • Client is educated on aftercare for best longevity and appearance

What does irresponsible lashing look like?

  • Artist is not licensed and or trained
  • Artist does not have appropriate tools for the job
  • Artist rushes the service and does not care about final result
  • Extensions are not isolated and multiple lashes are glued together
  • Extensions are too heavy for the natural lash
  • Extensions do not have a good bond and fall out prematurely
  • Client is not receiving the best service for their money
  • Client is not educated and thinks pain with lash extensions is normal
  • Client does not know how to take care of lash extensions

Common Premade Myths

1. “The only way to customize a style that suits an eye shape and give a set of wispy textured design is handmade.”


Art cannot be limited or defined based on a single person's perception of what it should be. I'm sure painters 300 years ago would be shitting themselves if they saw how artists are creating paintings nowadays: using mops, drills, pendulum swings, heat guns, and so on. We can utilize regular volume fans for texture or we can pull apart a premade fans into separate fibers now to create completely custom sets. Also, there is no one way to create a wispy set. Lashing using layering with open fans fan also create a wispy effect.

Photo provided by CC Studios
Using Lash Reality Sharp Stem Premades


2. “Premades are unprofessional.”


By definition, the word professional literally means a paid occupation. If you are trying to say that using a premade fan makes you unqualified, please take that up with the thousands of lash artists who are even more masterful than myself who have found a way to incorporate premade fans into their lash sets. And not to mention, they are trained and licensed in their respective country, running businesses and paying their taxes. Are the fans unprofessional because they aren't qualified to be used? What qualifies something to be used? And if it's by a perceived standard or bar that you have yourself set, then that simply becomes an opinion - not a fact. ;)

3. “Premades are cutting corners.”


In order to use a premade fan, you still need to have the same amount of fundamental lashing knowledge that it requires to use handmade/promade fans. You can cut down some time by using premade fans but there's not much of a difference between the two when you get down to the nitty gritty.

4. “People that use premades don’t know how to handmake a volume fan.”


Out of hundreds of thousands of customers who shop premades every year, I would argue that most of them know how to make a fan. This number may change year to year and moving forward, less people may be interested in learning the art of handmaking, but it will never go away completely.

5. “Premade lash retention is always bad.”


The way you use glue with a premade fan requires more thoughtfulness and good timing. If a lash artist has bad retention and they don't know how to troubleshoot it, the easy thing to do is to blame the product instead of questioning their own skill. If there is almost no difference in a promade fan and a premade fan, why is it that some people have amazing retention with their promade but not the premade? Simple: It's how much glue they are using (or lack thereof).

2.5 Week Retention Using Lash Reality Products
Images provided by Be Bold The Salon

6. “Premades fans cannot be wrapped to the natural lash.”


There is no one way to wrap a fan. If you are referring to cupping/locking a volume fan while the glue is still wet and the base is open/maliable, then you would be correct. The heat-bonded base of a premade fan resembles a promade fan where the base is held together. However, wrapping can still be done depending on the shape of the base as well as the shape of the natural lash (since most natural lashes are not perfect circles). Wrapping is a mechanism that can be done with a crystallized handmade fan (just like a premade) where you can physically wrap your base like a candy cane around a natural lash. As well as interlocking the structure of the base to the NL depending on shape as mentioned previously.

7. “The reason why a lash business sells premades is just to make money."


A for-profit (lash brands are not non-profit) business can sell whatever products they want for any reason, but most businesses are currently at the forefront of scrutiny because of their desire to sell premades. If it was really all about money for them, and not passion, then wouldn't it just be easy to let go of the product and find something that would universally be better received – to make more money?

8. "Premade fans cannot be customized."


Watch this video.

9. "All premades have chunky bases."


Girlie, where have you been? Sharp stem bundled bases are definitely a thing in the premade world.

Premade 8D Sharp Stem Fan


In Conclusion...

As young as the industry is and the evolution of products that we will continue to see year after year, don't be surprised or shaken when you see more lash artists using premades. Especially when premades are user-friendly, are quickly growing in their development, and allow a client to walk away with the same exact effect as a handmade volume fan. What we need to worry about as a lash artist is how we can individually give our clients the best experience possible with what we use. Lash extensions should look and feel good while lasting. We have a moral obligation as people to look out for the well-being of ourselves and the client. When we look at the basic articulation of how premades look, feel, perform, etc, there is nothing to worry about besides educating the population of lash artists that there are in fact better options out there that we can choose from! 

Lash Reality, our brand, was started with the idea that quality products, and especially premades, should be accessible to professionals. The hand curation of the premade line we sell exists because of the difficulty of finding and affording usable premade fiber. What our line consists of now is quite literally the best premades you can find worldwide, because we have went through the work of testing most if not all of the best lash manufacturers that currently produce premades. We knew going into building our brand that we didn't want to sell what was most convenient or cheap, but rather what could help any lash artist achieve volume lashing using the best of the best available.

When you come across someone who insults you, demeans you, or claims that you are singlehandedly destroying the lash industry as we know if because of your use of premade fans, I want you to remember this article and keep it in a safe space in your head. You do not have to use LR premades to be a badass lasher. There are other amazing brands that sell premades, too. As long as you stay enlightened on the ever-improving quality of what premades are and purchase what you find to be the best options to complete your lash sets, you are doing your due diligence.

The people who use their power to insult and put others down are insecure about "being taken over" by something that they don't understand for themselves. Education is one of the most important tools in your toolbelt that is going to make you a successful lash artist for years to come. It's easier said than done, but you cannot allow another person to control you, let alone how they feel about you take up space in your mind. Life is way too short. Use what you know best and keep lashing on, my friend. Because the lash industry is just getting started and has much more room to grow than we can even imagine. 


1 comment

  • This is absolutely the best article on premades that I’ve read! I’ve only been lashing for a couple of years but seasoned in the cosmetology industry. I have been trained in volume, but realized quickly the time Involved was lengthy. Also understanding this is new to the beauty industry and as fast as I was taking classes, things would change. I almost felt “less than” if I didn’t always do handmade volume. But my wisdom kicked in a realized this industry is on the move and I’m moving with it without judgment. My ultimate goal is beautiful HEALTHY lashes. The exact same way I approach hairstyling. GREAT READ

    LaLibra Dorsey on

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