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Are eyelash extensions safe?

Eyelash extensions – individual false lashes semi-permanently glued to lash line – are rising in popularity. They give the appearance of long, full lashes without the need for mascara or an eyelash curler and they last four to six weeks with proper care. While lash extensions can be a low-maintenance way to get the long lashes you want, there are important factors to consider for your eye health.

Risks of wearing eyelash extensions

“Eyelash extensions themselves will not harm your eyes or lids, but you can have complications in certain cases,” says Daniel Hwang, M.D., an ophthalmologist at Piedmont.

Complications from eyelash extensions include:

  • An allergic reaction to the glue. “Because eyelash extensions are meant to last for a few weeks, the glue can potentially cause irritation or infection,” says Dr. Hwang.

  • A stye or chalazion. A stye is a painful red lump along the eyelid or lash line, while a chalazion is a painless bump. They are usually caused by a blockage in an oil gland or infection in the eyelash follicle. “I see patients with styes or chalazion most frequently by far,” he says.

  • Droopy eyelids. This can develop from repeated manipulation to the delicate eyelid area (also seen in contact lens wearers).

  • Eye irritation. “The glue can get into the eye and cause irritation, especially if the glue is not properly pH balanced or formulated to be used around the eye,” he says.

  • Loss of your natural lashes. This is particularly common if you take off the lash extensions yourself. Always have them professionally removed.

Eyelash extension safety

If you decide to get eyelash extensions, here are some ways to make the process as safe as possible:

  • Do your research. It is crucial to find a reputable, licensed salon that has performed many eyelash extension procedures.

  • Request an allergy patch test. You can request that a small amount of the eyelash glue be applied to your wrist as an allergy test before the procedure. However, even if you don’t have a reaction in the salon, keep in mind that it is possible to have a reaction at a later date. “It is like having any other foreign body on your skin for a long time,” says Dr. Hwang. “Your lid skin is very delicate, so it will get irritated easily.”

  • Take a break if you get eyelash extensions regularly. “Try to shorten the duration of wear and give your lids a break once in a while,” he says.

  • See an ophthalmologist if you have any concerns. “If something feels unusual, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible,” says Dr. Hwang. “It is always easier to deal with complications earlier, so you should seek help sooner than later.”

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