When it comes to having long, thick eyelashes, the beauty industry has hundreds of products for you to try. There are dozens of brands of mascara, multiple kinds of false eyelashes and medicated growth serums. In recent years, eyelash extensions have become particularly popular.
Eyelash extensions promise to be the best combination of mascara and false eyelashes. Long, dark and practically permanent, they’re ready to go every morning, last for months, and are designed to look fantastic in photographs.
But what exactly are they? And are they safe to use?
What are eyelash extensions?
Eyelash extensions (also known as semi-permanent lashes) are made of synthetic fibers. Unlike standard false eyelashes, which are attached to the eyelid, extensions are individually glued onto your natural lashes. Consequently, the glue used to attach them is also extremely strong.
Eyelash extension do not need to be removed every night—in fact, removing them is practically impossible. The glue is designed to hold until your real lash falls out, which happens naturally to every lash. Because they require a particular type of glue and very careful placement, eyelash extensions must be applied by a professional aesthetician or cosmetologist.
Are eyelash extensions safe?
Semi-permanent lashes can be annoying for several reasons. When you wear them, you cannot pull at them or rub your eyes; if you do, you risk pulling out your own eyelashes or rubbing irritating chemicals into your eyes. You also cannot remove them yourself. If you don’t want to wait for them to fall out on their own, you must have them removed professionally, as the glue is too strong to be dissolved without chemicals.
However, the biggest reason to avoid eyelash extensions is the danger they can pose to the health of your skin and eyes.
The dangers of eyelash extensions
The glue used to apply eyelash extension is incredibly strong and often contains irritants like formaldehyde—a known carcinogen. It is very harsh and can cause allergic reactions in the sensitive skin around your eyes. These reactions may include redness, hives, swelling, and even blistering that can temporarily damage your vision and leave permanent scarring on your skin.
In some instances, eyelash extensions can cause you to completely lose your natural lashes. This condition is known as traction alopecia; unlike standard alopecia, which is an autoimmune disorder, traction alopecia occurs when the eyelash follicle is so irritated and damaged (in this case, by the application and removal of extensions) that it loses the ability to grow hair altogether.
Others dangers include bacterial or fungal infections of both the skin and cornea; these can be due to the glue or irritation from the eyelash extensions themselves.
The bottom line
Both the American Academy of Ophthalmology and Consumer Reports warn against using eyelash extensions. Even beauty magazines like Cosmopolitan are starting to tell consumers that they are too risky to be worthwhile!
While long, beautiful eyelashes are great, there are safer ways to achieve them than with eyelash extensions.