1- Use Your Friends and Family
Even if you do own a mannequin, try to practice on people as often as possible. That kind of practice is invaluable in teaching you how to deal with different natural lash patterns and clients’ needs and preferences.
It’s best to start by asking your friends and family. Choose people who’ll understand that you’re just starting, and who will encourage you and get excited to help you grow your skills. The other benefit of practicing with people you know and love is that you’ll feel more comfortable with them.
Even so, remember to set up your station and work just as you would on a real client!
2- Find Models Online
Another fantastic option is to find models online. Local beauty enthusiast or hair and beauty model groups on Facebook can be very rich resources for connecting with people. You’ll find models who’d love to get lash extensions done and won’t mind going to someone less experienced.
When you post a call for models, make sure to mention your general location, the style you’d like to practice, and the date and time. Also mention if you’ll need the model to agree for you to take photos and whether you’d like the model to cover the cost of materials (and if so, say what the cost will be).
3- Use a Sponge
Round sponges can be useful specifically when you’re starting to practice volume lashes. All you need to do is dampen a flat, round makeup sponge. Then use it as your surface to lay down lashes, one by one along the perimeter.
The main benefit of this technique is that the visibility is amazing, especially for volume lashes. It lets you focus on making evenly-spaced, symmetrical fans without worrying about other aspects of lashing. That said, it’s not as good if you need to practice isolation or placement, and I also don’t think it’s useful at all for classic lashes.
4- Use Thread
If you want to focus on speed and precision when laying down lashes without worrying about isolation, sewing thread can be very helpful! Stretch a piece of thread over a cup or bowl, tape it down on both sides, and then use it to practice. This technique is useful for practicing both classic and volume lashes.
Some stylists like to try this practice method with a strand of hair that they pull off of a hair brush. Human hair is much closer in thickness to lash hair, but I think using thread is a more hygienic choice.
5- Use False Lashes
If you don’t have access to a mannequin, you can also apply extensions to strip lashes. For this, I recommend using cheap, simple strip lashes that aren’t too fluffy or criss-crossed.
Glue the strip lashes down on the side of a plastic cup, a ball, or any other small object. Then, isolate and apply lashes to the strip lashes, just as you would on a mannequin or human. This method doesn’t allow you to replicate your hand positioning quite as closely, but it’s still a great mannequin alternative in a pinch.