At Eyes Focused on You, our primary goal is to help patients take charge of their health by being proactive. Occasionally, this encompasses providing impartial information about potential risks and benefits associated with a new product. Here we set out what you need to know about eyelash extensions, an increasingly popular beauty aid available across the country. Eyelash extensions change the eyelid edge and it is important that you proceed with caution.
What are eyelash extensions and how are they applied?
Eyelash extensions are made from synthetic materials as well as silk and mink. Typically, they are applied at a salon by an aesthetician. An adhesive tape or other protective covering is placed over the lower lashes. Then, using tweezers and a semi-permanent glue, each lash extension is secured to a natural lash on the upper eyelid, one by one. This is a painstaking process that requires your eyes to stay closed for up to two hours. Once in place, an extension can remain attached until the natural lash is shed, usually within two weeks.
What health problems are associated with eyelash extensions?
There are several issues and some can be very serious. Eyelash extensions can trap dirt and bacteria which can cause infections such as conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye. Chemicals in the adhesives used can generate an allergic reaction resulting in pain, redness, inflammation, itchiness, infection and temporary vision issues. The infection induced from the glue can then spread causing an infection in the orbit called cellulitis, which can become life threatening.
Irritation can lead to tugging at the eyelashes which can damage the follicles and cause the temporary or permanent loss of your natural lashes. This is concerning because eyelashes perform two important functions -- one is to keep small particles such as grit and dust out of the eye, the other is to warn us when an object that may injure the eye becomes dangerously close.
Trauma is another possibility given that tweezers are used to apply the extensions and a slip of the hand could cause serious injury. Also, without proper care, the adhesive used may bond the eyelids together! Finally, in rare cases, extension fibres can become trapped under the eye tissue, which may require surgery to remove them.
What can I do to protect my health?
If you choose to get eyelash extensions there are a few questions you should ask the clinician:
- What training or certification have you received?
- How much experience do you have applying lash extensions?
- What are the ingredients in the glue and adhesive tape?
- How do you ensure proper hygiene? For example, how are tweezers cleaned between customers? Do technicians wear gloves?
While there, get a spot test on your wrist of the adhesives to be used. This is the best way to determine if you will have a bad reaction, however, you should also check the ingredients for allergens and dangerous chemicals such as formaldehyde. If you have an unsatisfactory answer to a question, a poor reaction to an adhesive, or if any of the ingredients in the glues is concerning, end the process.
It may be more prudent to consider reserving eyelash extensions for special occasions. When trying new things, never forget how important your eyes are to your quality of life and overall well being and always do what you can to protect them. After all, beauty trends may come and go, but your eyes must last you a lifetime.