Eyelash extensions have quickly become a rising trend to no surprise; many love having beautiful, long, luscious lashes. To achieve this, single eyelash extension strands are applied to the base of one’s natural lashes using an adhesive glue. During this process, tape is used on the lower eyelid to hold the lower lashes in place.

The Issue. Eyelash extension application is an unregulated procedure that has no standardization of materials. The most common complication we see is an allergic reaction towards the materials used (eyelash extensions, glue, tape). As a result, irritation, redness, and swelling of the eye can occur. The eyelids can also become puffy, and the skin can become dry and flaky – a type of contact dermatitis. Especially in cases of poor hygiene, the lid itself can be infected, resulting in red painful bumps called styes. While all of these are treatable, it’s best to prevent it from occurring in the first place by ensuring that you are going to a trained aesthetician who sources high quality products.

Maintenance is Key. I cannot stress enough how important this is! Artificial lashes provide an extra home for bacteria and debris to build. We’ve seen everything from make-up residue to flaked skin to eyelash mites. These can all lead to itching, irritation, dry eye, and infection. Daily use of lid wipes to remove makeup and debris is crucial to keeping your eyes clean. If you have an overgrowth of bacteria or mites in your lashes, your doctor may recommend tea-tree oil, a naturally occurring essential oil that has antiseptic properties.

What About Makeup and Contacts? Avoid using excessive makeup, and try to use water-based products. Waterproof cosmetics are difficult to remove without using an oil-based make-up remover, which can dissolve the glue and cause the extension to fall out prematurely. Contact lenses are safe to wear.   

Final Verdict: Are Eyelash Extensions Safe? Yes, if done right! And remember, you do get what you pay for. Go to a licensed technician, know what materials they use, and ensure the environment and instruments are sanitary. Check that the adhesive does not contain formaldehyde, ammonia, or latex. Cyanoacrylate compounds can also release formaldehyde, and so it is best to avoid this too. Let them know ahead of time if you have any allergies or sensitivities. If you experience any redness, irritation, or swelling, have the eyelash extensions removed.


Written by: Dr. Natalia Fong & Dr. Fabian Tai

Image Credit: Photo by Mihai Stefan