This amazing post was written by Jenn Ryan, a freelance writer, and editor who’s passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. You can read more of her work at thegreenwritingdesk.com.

I have blonde eyelashes. It comes with the blonde hair.

Years ago, before I found out a crazy autoimmune disease I’d been diagnosed with was just a gluten intolerance and I wasn’t yet into natural stuff, I got my eyelashes dyed.

It wasn’t really my decision. I was a professional house-sitter who happened to have a client who was a beautician. She wanted to dye my eyelashes as a “perk” of me housesitting for her.

Always having blonde lashes but hating makeup, I agreed.

What followed was about 20 minutes of me sitting still and not speaking while the dye set on my lashes. When she was rinsing the dye off, although I had my eyes closed, it burned terribly.

For weeks after, I was left with these gorgeous, blue-black lashes that I loved. I got my eyelashes dyed a couple more times before the pain during the dye removal became too much and I stopped.

So many women aren’t happy with their natural lashes and want to get extensions done. But are these things really safe? Perhaps many of you, like myself, have questioned the consequences that come with getting your eyelashes turned into something… well, more Beyoncé-like.

Wait—What Exactly Are Eyelash Extensions?

There are several different types of eyelash extensions. Let’s check them out.

  • Permanent eyelash extensions. These are an actual eyelash transplant that requires grafting and will cost you thousands of dollars—it is permanent, though, so no maintenance.
  • Semi-permanent lashes. These are what people are usually talking about when they say “eyelash extensions”. Applied by a technician one lash at a time, they’re glued on top of your actual lashes, and will last for about 6-8 weeks until they naturally fall off.
  • Fake—or temporary—eyelashes. These are the things you can buy at the store and glue on your own above your natural lash line. You can do-it-yourself in just a few minutes.

Semi-permanent lashes are very popular and come in a variety of materials, including synthetic, silk, or even mink (yes, that’s a furry animal for those of you unfamiliar with woodland creatures).

What Are the Side Effects of Eyelash Extensions?

Those of you who know something about being an adult know that nothing comes without cost. You’ll be disappointed to know the same is true for doe-like eyelashes.

Reactions are extremely common when it comes to the glue used for eyelash extensions. In fact, one poor girl had a bad application done, and has now compromised her natural lashes due to this bad eyelash job [1].

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Conjunctivitis, a bacterial infection, can happen from someone touching your eyes with their bare hands. It’s virtually impossible to wear gloves while applying the extensions, thanks to the glue, so don’t be surprised when your technician forgoes the gloves.

On top of this, no one knows if the lashes cause permanent damage. There’s virtually no data on how they’ll affect your eyelashes over the long-term. Some experts speculate that over time, natural lashes can fall out as a result of the constant weight of eyelash extensions [2].

Eyelash extensions are also high-maintenance. You’re not allowed to sweat or cry for 12 hours after the application. You’re also not allowed to swim or wash your face. In fact, if you do any of these things, the glue can actually dissolve and get into your eyes, causing irritation.

So, tell your boyfriend to hold off on the break-up until your eyelash glue dries.

You’re also not allowed to pick at them or rub them. Want to rub your eyes after a long day at work? Nope, sorry. You’ll have to drink some wine instead. No eye-rubbing for you, missy.

To top it all off, you’ll need to “brush” your eyelashes to keep them straight after showering, upon waking, etc. Some of the applications can cost $100 or more. So, that means if you want to keep your eyelashes looking boss, you’ll need to pay $100 every 6-8 weeks, which adds up to a minimum of $600 per year.

How Toxic Is the Glue Used to Apply the Lashes?

The glue used to apply eyelash extensions is by all means questionable.

This glue is reportedly medical grade and designed to be fumeless so it dries fast and lasts long [3]. Many of these glues have formaldehyde in them, which can affect sensitive skin, cause eye irritation, and oh yeah, it’s a probable human carcinogen [4].

Unfortunately, these glues can also contain other harmful chemicals, including fragrances, which are toxic as well. How can you find safe lash adhesive? Always ask to see what product the technician is using and read the ingredient label for yourself. Remember, cheaper lashes could mean low-quality glues. You should always be informed before making any decisions. THESE ARE YOUR EYES.

How to Safely Wear Eyelash Extensions

Ok listen, I get it—you somehow still want to try it.

First, find someone who is trained and certified to apply your lash extensions. You can ask for proof of training when you visit the salon.

You’ll want to look for professional technicians using professional products. These people will also be better able to advise you on what type of lashes will be best for you. Remember, you’re going to be here for a while—up to 2 hours—so you want to be comfortable with the staff as well as the establishment.

Use common sense when looking for a practice. If you have friends that have gotten their lashes done, ask who they’d recommend and what their experience was like. You can and should research how long that person or company has been in business. Read reviews, look at photos, and visit the salon.

Cleanliness should be a priority at any salon. If you see a dust ball in the corner, leave. You are not here to make friends with dust bunnies.

After you’ve got your lashes, it’s absolutely essential to follow your technician’s instructions in order to safely wear these things. Avoid mascara, as it’s not necessary and can mess up your lashes. You should also avoid any facial cleansers or moisturizers with oil, as these can cause the glue to break down.

A competent, professional technician should be able to thoroughly answer all your questions and address your concerns before you decide that you want fake lashes and toxic glue on your face.

Are There Natural Ways to Lengthen Your Eyelashes?

One word: heck yes.

Let’s look at how you can forget about that $100, that toxic glue, that eye irritation, and daily lash brushing and instead enhance the look of your eyelashes naturally [5].

  • Coconut oil. Apply with a clean mascara wand (I said CLEAN). Doesn’t get much simpler than this.
  • Castor oil, olive oil, or aloe vera. Use one of these and apply to your lashes before going to bed. Leave it on overnight, then rinse off in the morning (note: castor oil has a Vaseline-like consistency; it’s extremely thick and gooey. Be careful with this stuff). Do this for 2-3 months and watch your lashes grow!
  • Eyelid massage. This stimulates blood flow. You can use a couple drops of oil on your eyelids (olive oil or coconut oil is fine; avoid essential oils for this particular purpose) and massage your lids and lash line gently for about 5 minutes once or twice a day.

Remember, when using any of these methods, cleanliness is going to be essential, so always wash your hands before having any contact with your eyes or eyelashes!

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there’s no concrete answer to whether or not eyelash extensions are safe. The jury is still out on this one. I can tell you one thing—pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Eye irritation and formaldehyde glue just doesn’t sound like it’s healthy for anybody. (Plus, I’m sure some of this glue tests on animals—don’t get me started on that.)

Using natural remedies if you’re avoiding the salon or following best practices if you’ve opted for fake eyelashes is essential.

And remember—you are gorgeous without those extensions. Léa Seydoux comes to mind when I think about blonde eyelashes (God, she’s hot). You don’t need anything to make you look beautiful and feel worthwhile—you are already there.

 

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Jenn Ryan
Health Expert
Jenn Ryan is a freelance writer and editor who's passionate about natural health, fitness, gluten-free, and animals. She loves running, reading, and playing with her four rescued rabbits.