Why Old Street’s Moka & Sarah lash studio is generating a huge buzz with their Japanese-technique applied lash extensions…
The flutter of a beautiful set of eyelashes is a powerful thing. But though London is home to some gifted, expertly skilled lash technicians, the over-saturated market has left it open to unsafe budget options. In Japan, where luscious eyelashes are extremely coveted, a sudden high demand for perfect peepers lead to sub-standard technicians sparking something of a lash health epidemic that warranted government intervention.
Lash extension technicians in Japan must now undergo a compulsory three-year training period, which has resulted in the country becoming a leader in lashes (in the UK, a mere three days’ training is the industry standard).
Moka was born in Kyoto in 1980. As a young girl she developed a passion for both art and beauty and soon found the perfect creative outlet. She was among those who received the vigorous lash extension training, and she then travelled the world to learn the growth patterns and genetic nature of different ethnicities to hone her craft.
A self confessed lash-extension addict, former radio journalist and co-founder Sarah Darnley went into business with Moka so that she could give London a slice of Japanese lash expertise.
‘There are some wonderful lash extension technicians in the UK,’ says Darnley. ‘Though the level of compulsory training in Japan is not yet matched across the board in the UK.
Applying individual lash extensions professionally takes a laser-focused amount of skill and one wrong move can land you in serious problems
‘Applying individual lash extensions professionally takes a laser-focused amount of skill and one wrong move can land you in serious problems, it’s really hard to master. Lash extensions can be very damaging, but if applied properly, they shouldn’t be at all.’
‘Mink eyelashes have been the it-trend of the lash game for a while now, yet Darnley let me in on a little secret. ‘Mink Eyelashes’ started out as the brand name for a synthetic lash made in Japan and the name was soon adopted by salons worldwide, but lash extensions made from real mink hair are something else entirely.
This is common knowledge in Japan but not the UK. Darnley explains: ‘We don’t promote our lash extensions as mink lashes because it can confuse people, and we don’t use real animal mink because it’s almost impossible to source ethnically.
‘Even our most voluminous lash option is extremely natural looking,’ says Darnley, addressing the fact that the natural look is very much ‘in’.
‘There is only a certain level of weight you can apply before it starts becoming too heavy for the lashes, leaving you at risk for premature lash loss. We take a lot of time to apply each extension set and we apply them in very thin layers to avoid this.
‘We have made a commitment to our clients that we will improve the health of their lashes if they have previously been badly damaged. We will only give you a set of extensions that your natural lashes can handle, even if you have requested a thicker volume. If your lashes are in bad shape, our answer will always be no.’
Just scrolling through their fashionable Instagram feed gives you an instant feel for the believable look of their lash sets. It’s filled with raven sets of perfectly designed pairs of angel wings on faces, understated yet elegant and striking in a mysterious way that would leave those none the wiser baffled as to why they all look so wide eyed and naturally lush lashed.
Operating inside Old Street’s cool multi purpose co-working space, WeWork, Moka & Sarah’s mini studio is clad with Japanese fashion editorial. Moka hopes to one day open a lash school in the UK, and their own range of hand made strip lashes is also in the pipeline.
Life’s too short to attempt to carefully apply mascara on your commute. Wake up every day feeling like Audrey Hepburn with instantly feathery lashes courtesy of the lash whisperer Moka.