Eyelash Extensions and Your Eyes

Eyelash Extensions and Your Eyes

Woman having eyelash extensions applied

Eyelash extensions are one of the most popular beauty trends on the market. Used to make eyelashes appear longer and fuller, the process involves gluing artificial strands onto natural lashes for a semi-permanent enhancement. The eyes are a very sensitive part of the body, and as with any procedure, risks are involved. In this blog we’ll discuss what factors to consider before you get eyelash extensions.


Eyelash Extensions vs. False Eyelashes

False eyelashes are strips of synthetic eyelashes that are applied to the eyelid with glue. They have been around for decades and are commonly found at drug and beauty stores. They are applied at home and should be removed nightly. Eyelash extensions are professionally applied single strands of synthetic, silk, or mink, individually glued to natural eyelashes. This procedure is usually done in a salon, and can only be performed by a licensed hairdresser or esthetician in the state of Alaska. They typically last 4-6 weeks. 


When thinking about eyelash extensions, it is important to consider the risks involved. 

  • Infection- Eyes and eyelids can become infected if hands or tools are not properly sanitized before performing the procedure. 
  • Injury- Sharp tools may slip or be dropped causing injury to the eye. 
  • Allergic reaction-The glue used in this procedure may cause an allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
  • Formaldehyde reaction- According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) The FDA does not regulate eyelash extensions or glue. Formaldehyde occurs as a byproduct of the decomposition process in eyelash glue, and can cause a reaction, even in products labeled “formaldehyde-free”.
  • Loss of natural lashes- Repeated use of eyelash extensions may lead to traction alopecia, or loss of hair caused by pulling of hair follicles. 
  • Ocular inflammation from foreign body- According to the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA Ophthalmology), eyelash fibers have been known to enter the eye and become lodged beneath the conjunctiva, causing painful inflammation and requiring surgical removal. 
  • Dry eyes- A study performed by researchers at Georgia Tech determined that the optimal eyelash length for diverting airflow and reducing tear evaporation is one-third the length of the eye. Lashes longer than this can channel airflow to the eye, which causes tears to evaporate too quickly and results in symptoms of dry eye. For more information about dry eye, read our blog here.
  • Blepharitis- This inflammatory condition occurs when bacteria, dandruff, or demodex mites are present on the eyelids. Eyelash extensions can make it harder to clean the eyelids, increasing the risk of blepharitis. To avoid this, use a cleanser made for eyelash extensions, such as We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Foaming Cleanser. For more information about blepharitis, read our blog here


Lash boosting serums have gained popularity for their ability to provide the  look of fuller lashes without many of the potential risks of eyelash extensions. The only FDA approved medication for eyelash growth on the market today is called Latisse. This prescription medication is a prostaglandin analog, originally used for the treatment of glaucoma. While this medication does eliminate some of the risks involved with eyelash extensions, it does carry it’s own risk of side effects.  According to Allergan, the manufacturer of the drug, potential side effects include:

  • Itching sensation in the eyes
  • Eye redness
  • Skin darkening
  • Eye Irritation
  • Dryness of the eyes
  • Redness of the eyelids

Eyelash extensions can be safe if applied by a properly trained, licensed professional. Before making a decision, be sure to do your research. Read reviews, check for licenses, and ensure that the application environment is thoroughly clean. Also, make sure to request a test patch to check for glue/formaldehyde sensitivity before the procedure is performed. If you are interested in a prescription for Latisse as an alternative to eyelash extensions, talk to your eye doctor. To schedule an appointment at Mountain View Eye Center, call or text  (907) 328-2920.


American Academy of Ophthalmology, Eyelash Extension Facts and Safety, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/eyelash-extension-facts-safety

JAMA Ophthalmology, Ocular Inflammation Associated with Fibers from Eyelash Extensions, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaophthalmology/article-abstract/2667801

The Royal Society, Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eye (2015) https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsif.2014.1294

Allergan, Using Latisse Safety Info, https://www.latisse.com/SafetyAndSideEffects.aspx

Written By: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Photo by Hayley Kim Design on Unsplash

Posted in: Uncategorized

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