The debate over cruelty-free vs. cruelty-free products has been raging for quite some time, and I don't see it going away anytime soon. Lashes, in my opinion, are the same as anything else that comes "real," "synthetic," or "faux" (synthetic and faux being the same thing). Would you prefer the luxury of a real fur coat or a faux fur coat? So, which lashes are best: mink, silk, or synthetic? I get it, it's a status thing, having real mink or real silk lashes sounds cooler, but does having genuine lashes mean you have real quality lashes? Remember, this is my opinion, and we are all entitled to ours!
Overview of Lash Types
Mink is genuine fur derived from a fluffy, small animal... Yes, like an ANIMAL! Manufacturers typically collect from mink farms. Genuine mink is sought after due to its "luxurious" reputation.
It is obtained directly from the cocoon of a silk worm and is desirable due to its luster and association with luxury. Silk lashes, on the other hand, are typically synthetic. True, genuine silk lashes are difficult to come by, but they are still in high demand!
Synthetic lashes are made to resemble one of two materials: mink or silk! The lashes, whether synthetic mink or synthetic silk, are manufactured in a factory and are cruelty-free. As a result, both are becoming increasingly desirable. Synthetic mink, on the other hand, is quickly gaining popularity due to its long-lasting quality and dark, matte finish!
Origin of Products
I'll start with mink because it's the most contentious. When we talk about real mink, we mean REAL MINK. Yes, it came from a cute little mink. Unfortunately, when a product is derived directly from an animal, cruelty is involved. There is no way to prove or confirm that "our real mink lashes are cruelty-free," despite disclaimers. However, I would assume that they do not obtain the minks' permission before taking their fur. I would encourage you to do some research if you haven't already. According to PETA's media liaison,“We encourage consumers to choose alternatives to any materials that are derived from animals, ensuring that they are not contributing to an industry that causes suffering.”
Even if you don't use all cruelty-free products/supplies, I would recommend that you educate your clients on the subject. I'm sure most would reconsider their previous mink-related requests.
That also applies to silk. It appears to be less intense, but do you know where silk is sourced? It's a worm. Yes, it's a yucky, squiggly worm. It is extracted from the cocoons of silkworms. Inside their cocoons, they boil the helpless worms alive. PETA has an opinion on the matter as well. You can read it here. Don't get me wrong: I'm not a fan of creepy animals, but a creature is a creature, and cruelty is cruelty. When a client (or a potential client) asks if you carry silk or what your thoughts are on it, simply tell them you are cruelty-free! It's an accomplishment to be proud of.
Now, both synthetic mink and synthetic silk, which are manufactured products, have their own chemical composition. A PBT base is present in each composition. PBT is an abbreviation for Poly Butylene Terephthalate, which is a semi-crystalline synthetic engineered thermoplastic. Synthetic silk is heated and molded into the desired size and curl before being finished with a shiny, "silk-like" finish. Synthetic mink is similarly heated and molded before being given a deep, matte finish. Synthetic mink is much more desirable due to its finish. It adds fullness and naturality to any set of extensions, classic or volume!
Mink vs Silk vs Synthetic: Quality and Durability
Now that we've gotten the unpleasant part out of the way, let's talk about the ACTUAL quality and durability of mink, silk, and synthetic lashes. As beautiful as some luxury lashes may sound and appear, mink and silk lashes tend to look more fake than synthetic lashes. In my experience, more clients have complained about them than have praised them. Why? For one thing, mink and silk lashes are too shiny and don't hold a curl. Consider this: if mink comes from an animal, it is similar to our hair. True, natural hair can be curled, but what happens when that curl gets wet or exposed to extreme weather? Whether flat or frizzy! The same is true for silk, which, despite being derived from a cocoon fiber, is not durable and will not hold curl in extreme conditions or for long periods of time.
Living things were not intended to be used for lashes…
...so, of course, they weren't designed to meet all of our lash requirements. Synthetic lashes are a great option for quality and durability because they were specifically designed to meet all of our lash needs. Synthetic silk lashes are less popular due to their sheen finish, but the matte finish on synthetic mink lashes gives the lash line a dense, more natural appearance. Synthetic is the way to go because it is specifically designed to hold curl and withstand extreme conditions. Though they do not yet have the same reputation as genuine mink and silk, they will soon! Being cruelty-free is becoming a trend, and we want everyone to be a part of it!
The curious clients aren't going away; they'll always be interested in learning about more "luxurious" alternatives. It is our responsibility as professionals to educate them!
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