Want to learn how to start an eyelash business? You’re not alone! The false eyelash industry is estimated to have a value of $250 million by 2022, so this is clearly an in-demand niche.
However, starting a business of any kind can be overwhelming, so we’re here to help!
We’ve created a guide that goes into all the details about how to start a lash business as easily as possible.
State Requirements for Lash Businesses by State
Since false lashes fall under the cosmetic industry, there are specific regulations any lash business must adhere to.
It’s important to understand that rules vary state by stage, though the overarching regulator, the FDA, has a set of guidelines all businesses must follow no matter the state.
We’ve collected the current list of regulations for any state that has a set of requirements, but always be sure to double-check with your state’s Department of Health as these can change at any time.
If your state isn’t listed, there are currently no requirements to start an eyelash business.
|Alaska||Requires a hairdresser, medical, or esthetician license|
|Arkansas||Requires a Cosmetologist, Barber, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|California||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Colorado||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Connecticut||Requires a DPH License and Eyelash Technician certification|
|District of Columbia||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Florida||Requires a Cosmetologist, medical, or Facial Specialist, or Full Specialist license|
|Georgia||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Hawaii||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Idaho||Requires a Cosmetologist or Esthetician license|
|Illinois||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Iowa||Requires a Cosmetologist, Barber, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Kansas||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Louisiana||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Maine||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Massachusetts||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Michigan||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Minnesota||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, Eyelash Operator, or Esthetician license|
|Mississippi||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Montana||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Nebraska||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Nevada||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|New Hampshire||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|New Jersey||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|New Mexico||Requires a Cosmetologist or Esthetician license|
|New York||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|North Carolina||Requires a Cosmetologist or Esthetician license|
|North Dakota||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Ohio||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Oklahoma||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician/Facialist license|
|Oregon||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Pennsylvania||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Rhode Island||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|South Carolina||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|South Dakota||Requires a Cosmetologist or Esthetician license and 16+ hour Certification Course|
|Tennessee||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Texas||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, Eyelash Extension Specialist with 320 hours of experience, or Esthetician license|
|Utah||Requires a Cosmetologist, Barber, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Vermont||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Virginia||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|Washington||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
|West Virginia||Requires a Cosmetologist or Esthetician license|
|Wyoming||Requires a Cosmetologist, Medical, or Esthetician license|
Learn How to Create Eyelash Extensions
In addition to licensing, you’ll need to have the proper tools to grow your business.
Here are the essential tools that any new eyelash business will need to have:
- Lash tweezers to help pick up individual lashes
- False eyelashes and a good supplier so that you’re always in stock
- Eyelash extension tape to hold down bottom lashes
- Lash brushes to help keep lashes in good condition before and during the application
- Primer and micro brushes to clear the natural lashes and prepare them for extension
- Eyelash adhesive
- Eyelash adhesive remover
- Lash organizer (also known as a Lash Tile)
- Crystal stone to hold adhesive
- Nano mister to speed the adhesive curing process
The best way to learn how to do eyelashes is by having yours done by a professional. Ask questions about the process and let them know you’re interested in starting your own business.
While it might seem like you’re their competition, most lash techs started out the same way and are more than happy to help pay it forward.
If you run into a wall trying to find helpful technicians, consider first starting under an already established technician in an apprentice role.
This will give you hands-on experience without the risk that comes along with running a business yourself.
Establish Your Lash Business & Brand
For the business end of things, ensure that you’re set up correctly from the getgo as it becomes more difficult to get situated the longer you’re in business.
- Register your business based on state requirements. Most eyelash businesses will start as a Sole Proprietor or LLC. There will usually be a small filing fee with this.
- Get a sales tax license if your state requires sales tax to be collected. Sales tax licenses are often free or may require a small filing fee.
- Set up your bookkeeping system. You’ll need to have something that tracks your inventory, sales, and expenses. Don’t skip this part or just rely on a Google Spreadsheet; you’ll need to have the right records to know what your profit to loss ratio looks like and for taxes.
- Create a brand. You’ll need to distinguish yourself from competitors and make it easy for customers to recognize your shop. Start with a simple logo and dedicated color palette. It doesn’t need to be fancy, it just needs to be distinct. You can also tweak this later, so don’t worry about making a perfect logo right away. Try using free services like Canva to help get started.
- Decide how you will market your brand. Will you use social media? If so, which platform and how often will you post? Will you run local ads or participate in local networking groups? How much is your budget, and what amount of time are you willing to spend?
Methods for Sourcing Inventory
Making sure you have a steady supply of inventory is critical for keeping your clients happy.
That said, it’s important not to overdo it; start by offering a few types of lashes and then increase as your business grows.
Don’t try to be the Walmart of eyelashes in your area.
The more you specialize in a few different styles, the better you’re able to stand out from competitors.
There are a few ways to source inventory for your lash business:
- Head directly to the supplier – Ardell Fashion is the leading supplier of false eyelashes in the US, so they’d be an excellent place to start. Unfortunately, many manufacturers will have high minimums required for either number of lashes or the amount spent before they ship.
- Use a go-between – Using a site like Aliexpress or DHGate can be a great way to start with a smaller inventory to save some money. The downside is that unless you find a seller with a good reputation, it can be a gamble as to the quality of lashes you’ll receive.
- Go in on an order with other eyelash entrepreneurs – If you’re friendly with other eyelash entrepreneurs, consider creating an order together and divvying up the product once it’s arrived. This can help save you money thanks to bulk purchasing, but you may be stuck with the same inventory as everyone else.
- Source from retail stores – When in a bind, you can just pick up a couple of pairs of lashes at retail shops like Sally Beauty or Amazon. Sourcing from retail is great if you unexpectedly run out or need a few lashes quickly, but the price markup will be much higher than if you were buying lashes wholesale.
Going to Market with Your Lash Brand
Depending on the type of business you plan to run, there are a few different ways you can go to market.
Brick and Mortar
Setting up a brick-and-mortar store is a more traditional method and is essential for entrepreneurs who also plan to do the lash extensions for their clients.
The downside is that the business depends on your time and will need additional costs taken care of like a lease, business insurance, and utilities.
If you’re planning to focus exclusively online, you’re not alone. E-commerce is a $4.28 trillion business and is growing every year as more customers become used to the online shopping experience.
The costs to start a website are much lower than opening a brick and mortar, but going online completely removes the ability to create the complete experience of having lashes done.
Consequently, you miss the chance to set your business apart, as well as the additional upsells that come along with in-person extensions.
We recommend creating a hybrid model that has the best of both worlds.
Setting up an e-commerce website where your customers can set up a time to have their lashes applied by a professional like you is a great way to tap into being an eyelash supplier while also having the ability to charge a premium for professional, in-person services.
Set Up Your Website
Don’t feel like you need to learn how to code or hire an expensive web developer to start a website for your business.
Website builders like wix.com are great for startup businesses because they have a ton of templates that can be customized for your business.
Wix also has e-commerce capabilities built right in, so you won’t have to worry about things like PCI compliance or maintaining your own e-commerce security.
Some entrepreneurs even sell on eBay for a quicker go-to market strategy.
Marketing Your Lash Business
Marketing in such a thriving industry is essential for any business, so make sure you have a plan for consistent marketing before opening up.
Leverage Social Media
The most popular method is utilizing social media, particularly Instagram and TikTok. Potential customers will want to see finished extensions and testimonials, in addition to content that benefits them in some way.
No one wants to just see a sales pitch in every post; think about what your ideal client would like to know as they move through the journey to having their lashes put on by you.
Another popular method is establishing yourself as an authority in your area. This style of marketing involves creating content on your website that showcases your experience as a qualified technician.
Many website builders also have blog functionalities, so try creating weekly blog posts that answer a popular question newcomers to the world of eyelash extensions might have.
By answering these questions, you’ll show Google that you’re an authority on the subject of false lashes and deserve to be ranked as one of the first results they show when someone searches for a business like yours.
You can also utilize some simple SEO to help make the process faster.
No matter the method you choose, marketing only works when it’s consistent. This is especially important with online marketing, as the algorithms that social media platforms use reward accounts that regularly post content.
Don’t feel like you have to do it all! Start slowly, maybe by posting once a week until you get the hang of it, then increase from there.
If you want to advertise by working with Influencers or with paid ads, make sure you have a complete understanding of who your target customer is and what they’d be looking for in a business like yours.
Too often, new business owners will jump into running Facebook ads that target the wrong people and end up spending hundreds of dollars without making a sale.
Start with a very small budget to test and see how well your ads speak to potential customers.
Rather than running ads that are seen nationwide, try to focus primarily on local advertising and partnerships, as that’s where your primary source of income will come.
Starting an eyelash business can be a great way to flex your creativity and love of style while still earning an income.
Give a few of our tips a try so you can grow your business as quickly as possible.
Jack Brewer is passionate about all things personal finance, and enjoys testing out new side hustles and investing strategies.