Difference between Classic, Pre-made and Russian Volume eyelash extensions?

There’s a whole lot of talk about volume sets in the lash extension world these days, whether it be among lash artists who do or do not offer Russian Volume sets or clients who don’t understand the huge price difference between Russian Volume lash extensions and classic sets, or that are being duped into paying for Russian Volume sets when while what they’re really getting may add volume it certainly isn’t the Russian Volume quality that initiated the steep price hike in the first place! Let’s talk about the difference so we can maybe put an end to the confusion (and the over pricing by some lash artists who claim to offer Russian Volume when that’s not actually what they’re doing)!

Classic Eyelash Extensions
The Classic eyelash extension application is a time-consuming procedure where one single eyelash extension is applied to an individual isolated eyelash. It can take between 2- 3 hours to complete, though skilled artists may be able to complete a set in a shorter amount of time. This image shows the Classic application in progress.

Russian Volume Eyelash Extensions
Volume eyelash extensions are a little bit more complicated. Let’s start with the definition of volume. Volume is defined as the amount of space that a substance or object occupies, therefore any extensions that increase the appearance over that of a regular classic extension set can be considered volume applications. This gets tricky because up until recently the only way to have semi-permanent volume extensions applied was using a technique known as Russian Volume (a technique created by Olga Dobronravova, from Russia), where the artist creates a fan of lashes by hand at the time of application, using smaller, thinner and lighter individual extensions, and then applies those fans to the client’s individual isolated eyelashes. Each individual extension in a fan is referred to as a D, so a 2D fan will have 2 extensions in it, a 3D volume fan will have 3 extensions fanned, a 4D will have 4 extensions, etc. The below image shows what a 3D fan applied to a natural isolated eyelash may look like.

Creating each individual fan can take on average anywhere from 30 seconds to a minute or two to do. It requires very expensive specialized tweezers and there is a technique to creating the fan, a technique for picking up the fans without the bases coming apart, or the tips clumping together. There is then a necessary technique for setting the fans down on the isolated natural lash so that they hug the natural lash appropriately. This is more time consuming than classic extensions as each of these steps are often time dependent: meaning if you try to do a step too quick, it won’t work. If the fans are built too quickly each extension will be disproportionately spaced. If once created it’s picked up too quickly, the fan will fall apart. If it’s dipped in adhesive too quickly, the glue will wick up the extension bases and close the fan. If it’s not held into place on the isolated natural lash for long enough, the fans will not hug the lash and will close, creating a clump of lashes, rather than a volume fan. As you can imagine, these techniques take a lot of practice and a long time to do regardless of how efficient you become at it. The additional skill (and quality you’ll soon read about) is the reason for the steep price increase. Proper Russian Volume sets can take between 3 – 4 hours to complete and can cost into the hundreds of dollars each set.

American or Hollywood Volume?
There is some recent talk of American Volume and Hollywood Volume. Apparently, American Volume is meant to be a set built with Russian Volume fans that are made with multiple length extensions. I believe what’s being referred to as Hollywood Volume, is simply extremely long Russian Volume fans. The world of eyelash extensions is constantly evolving, and we get to learn something new every day.

Premade Volume Fans
Innovative manufacturers in China and Korea, where virtually all eyelash extension supplies originate from, quickly caught on to the potential to make money by making premade fanned extensions available. We can now buy premade volume fans of various sizes in trays, ready to pluck and place on the lash. There still are a number of really bad premade fans available on the market, and there are lash artists who don’t know how to select or use them. We’ll talk about what makes a good verses bad pre-built fan. A good quality pre-made fan should come to a point at the base and a bad quality pre-made fan is clumped at the base like a cluster. For now, know that premade fans are plucked from a tray and applied in much the same manner as a classic eyelash extension. There is no extra time involved, and not a whole lot of new skills required doing this, except maybe more careful attention to not use too much glue, and better isolation. If you are a lash artist who is offering premade volume fans, you should be charging accordingly. And while a small increase to cover the increase in cost of fanned lashes may be acceptable, a steep increase in price, charging for a proper Russian Volume Set when you haven’t purchased the tools, aren’t using the skills nor offering the quality is dishonest and tacky. If you’re a client who is being charged full Russian volume costs for premade fans, you may want to find yourself a new lash artist because even though they may initially look the same, they are not and the quality you are walking away with is very, very different.

Russian Volume Extensions vs. Pre-Built Fan Volume Extensions
The biggest difference between using premade fans and building Russian Volume fans comes from how the extensions lay on the client’s natural eyelashes. With premade fans, the extensions are stuck to the isolated natural lash in the same manner as a classic individual extension. This often requires or results in the use of more glue because the bases of the fans are chunkier than an individual extension, and less mobile than a Russian Volume hand-built fan. Here’s what a Classic Extension looks like vs. a Russian Volume Fan vs. a Premade Fan Extension on the base of the natural lash:

As you can imagine, the clumped bases of the premade fan can make for a slightly less mobile feel to the extensions when a whole set is applied. The larger the number of fanned lashes, the chunkier the base is. If you lose one fan, you lose multiple lashes – which can result in a gapped look to the lashes. The retention isn’t always the best, especially if your artist is using premade fans with a larger number of extensions – because they are all stuck to each other and not individually to the natural eyelash.

Russian volume extensions require very little glue, and because the extensions are placed on the isolated lash while the glue is still wet, each extension is mobile. The technique used to place the fanned lashes causes the individual extensions to wrap around the natural lash and stick to it, as opposed to sticking to the other extensions in the fan. This is known as ‘hugging’ the natural lash. It results in a more mobile fan of lashes, with greater adherence to the natural lash. When done correctly, the weight of the Russian Volume fan, the flexibility of the extensions, and the length of their retention are far superior to volume extensions created with premade fans.

If you’ve got any questions about this or about the eyes and eyelash extensions in general, please feel free to get in touch.

Subscribe and receive 5% OFF your first Training Course booking and 10% OFF your first Shop Product purchase.