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Are Eyelash Extensions Safe?

While eyelash extensions provide the trendy aesthetic of full, long eyelashes, they can also pose a threat to your eye health.

Amy Lin, MD, ophthalmologist at John A. Moran Eye Center, explains how to stay in style and protect your vision.

Understand the Risks

  • Allergic reaction
    The semi-permanent glue used to place extensions at a salon or found in drugstore eyelash strip products often contains formaldehyde. The ingredient can cause allergic reactions in some people.
  • Follicle damage
    Consistent applications contribute to accelerated natural eyelash loss and permanent damage to follicles. This can prevent new eyelash growth.
  • Infection
    Technicians or aestheticians with unhygienic practices can introduce harmful bacteria to your eyes. This can cause inflammation and infections such as styes, conjunctivitis, and keratitis of the cornea.

Follow These Safety Tips

  1. Test the glue

    Since many cheaper store-bought extensions don't include a comprehensive ingredient list for the glue, Lin recommends testing a dot of the glue on your hand before using it on your eyelashes. "If you have sensitive eyes, it's probably a good idea to avoid extensions," she says.
  2. Take breaks between new eyelash extensions

    Taking a break between new eyelash extension sets can prevent further damage from consistent manipulation of the eyelash follicles and promote natural eyelash growth.
  3. Go to a sanitary salon

    "Eyelash extensions should be applied only by an experienced aesthetician at a clean and reputable salon," Lin says.
  4. Consider magnetic strip eyelash extensions as an alternative

    Lin recommends purchasing magnetic strip eyelash extensions instead of ones that use glue to attach the fibers. "Magnetic eyelash extensions may be slightly safer than traditional lash extensions attached with glue,” Lin says. “They pose less of a risk of permanent lash loss and don't carry the risk of seepage of glue onto the surface of the eye."

If you are concerned about infection or irritation with your eyelash extensions, contact your ophthalmologist for an exam.