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Are Eyelash Extensions Safe? Risks & Benefits

Eyelash extensions are safe when clean and properly applied.

woman with eyelash extensions

Only have eyelash extensions applied by an experienced professional. If eyelash extensions are applied incorrectly, it can lead to injury to the eye, infection, and other issues.

What Are Eyelash Extensions?

Eyelash extensions are different than standard fake lashes which are applied with each use. Extensions are semi-permanent, lasting for approximately six weeks in most cases. 

An eyelash technician, or eyelash stylish, glues individual fibers to your natural lashes. The extensions themselves are generally silk, mink, or synthetic.

The application process takes a while — often several hours — as the process is detailed. Eyelash extensions can be expensive, often costing $100 to $500.

The Risks of Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash extensions carry inherent risks as they involve putting foreign objects near your eye. While they present little risk when proper protocols are followed, many people underestimate the potential risks of eyelash extensions.

As the FDA notes, dirty eyelash extensions can expose you to bacteria or fungus. If microbes like that get into your eye, it can pose a serious health risk that may result in permanent vision loss.

Most new eyelash extensions come clean, but used or mishandled extensions can become dirty. It’s very important to work with a licensed, professional eyelash technician who handles the extensions in an appropriate, hygienic manner

Applying eyelash extensions can also pose a risk of injury, especially with unsteady hands. If the technician slips, it can result in damage to the eye, especially if they hit the eye with significant force.

Other risks of eyelash extensions include the following:

  • Loss of natural eyelashes
  • Infection
  • Skin irritation
  • Swelling
  • Itchiness
  • Pain

The Benefits of Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash extensions are cosmetic products, and they serve no medical purpose. People use them to add volume and length to their natural lashes.

When applied by a trained professional, eyelash extensions are considered safe and effective for aesthetic purposes.

Like most cosmetics, the benefits of eyelash extensions are straightforward:

  • They may increase your confidence.
  • Others may find them fashionable or otherwise attractive.
  • They can modify your physical look to better fit a particular style you want to achieve or match different kinds of outfits.
  • You can save time since you do not need to apply mascara.
  • You no longer need standard fake eyelashes, which can be difficult to apply and the glue may be irritating.
  • They are customizable, so you can achieve the exact look you want. For a more dramatic look, your technician will apply more extensions, and they’ll apply fewer fibers for a more natural look.

Who Should Avoid Eyelash Extensions?

Eyelash extensions don’t work for everyone. If you have any of the following, talk to your doctor before getting eyelash extensions:

  • Dermatitis
  • Sensitive skin
  • Blepharitis (eyelid swelling)
  • Alopecia areata (if it affects your eyelids)
  • Trichotillomania (urge to pull at your eyelashes)
  • Frequently irritated eyes

Common Eyelash Extension Mistakes

Do not attempt to remove the eyelash extensions yourself by pulling at your lashes. This can result in pulling out your natural lashes and irritating your eyelids.

Instead, wait for your eyelash extensions to fall off, which will naturally start to happen around the six-week mark.

Avoid getting your eyelash extensions wet for 48 hours after they are applied. This means no showers, swimming, or washing your eye area for two days. If you get them wet during this time period, you’ll weaken the glue, and they may fall off sooner than desired.

Eyelash Extension Care Tips

Lash extensions last approximately six weeks, following your natural hair growth cycle. Sometimes, they can last up to two months, depending on your personal growth rate.

If you care for your eyelash extensions well, they can last longer. Follow these care tips:

  • Don’t touch your eyelashes or eyes unnecessarily. If you pull at your lashes, the extensions will loosen or come off. 
  • Extend the life of your lashes by getting refills. A technician will fill in areas where extensions have fallen off. Refills are recommended every two to three weeks or so.
  • Wash your extensions every three days. Use a soft-bristled brush and distilled water to gently massage the area, freeing any built-up residue.
  • Avoid oil-based products, such as makeup remover, eye cream, or eyeliner. The oils can weaken the lash glue.
  • Do not wear mascara. This can weaken the adhesion and weigh down the extensions and your natural lashes. 
  • Sleep on your back, if possible. Avoid sleeping on your stomach and limit sleeping on your side as this can pull at your lashes.
  • Don’t use eyelash curlers. This can damage or loosen the extensions.
  • Brush your lashes a few times daily with a spoolie brush. This is a clean, dry mascara wand.

Do Extensions Hurt Your Natural Lashes? 

If applied by a professional and you care for them properly, extensions are not likely to hurt your natural lashes. However, there is risk involved.

If you pull at the lashes, you can potentially pull out your natural lashes in the process, resulting in bald spots.

Since the extensions are glued to your natural lashes, they put extra weight on them. This can weaken them over time and even cause them to break.

References

  1. The Beginner’s Guide to Eyelash Extensions. (January 2020). Bazaar.

  2. Eye Cosmetic Safety. (February 2022). FDA.

  3. How to Apply False Lashes Like a Pro. (November 2011). Oprah.com

  4. What to Know Before Getting Eyelash Extensions. (March 2022). Oprah Daily.

  5. American Academy of Ophthalmology Warns Consumers About the Dangers of Eyelash Extensions. (May 2013). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

  6. Eyelash Extensions Can Pose Health Risks. (May 2013). Consumer Reports.

  7. Are Eyelash Extensions Safe? (October 2021). Baylor College of Medicine.

  8. Eyelash Extensions 101: The Benefits, Cost, and More. (January 2022). Byrdie.

  9. Eyelash Extension Facts and Safety. (February 2018). American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Last Updated April 21, 2022

Note: This page should not serve as a substitute for professional medical advice from a doctor or specialist. Please review our about page for more information.