HEALTH WARNING: What You Need To Know Before Getting Eyelash Extensions

A guide to the procedure

2 March 2018

Article heading image for HEALTH WARNING: What You Need To Know Before Getting Eyelash Extensions

Eyelash extensions are the latest trend to sweep the beauty world, with most salons offering the service which involves individual synthetic eyelashes being applied to the eyelid.

However, while the trend may curb the need for applying mascara everyday - and let's face it, the results from these cosmetic procedures are INCREDIBLE - there is a very real health risk attached.

The process involves gluing synthetic extensions lash by lash to the existing hair follicles in the eyelid, and as a result of the sensitivity of the eye area, there have been reports of ocular (eye) complications as a result of lash extensions.

Corneal Staff Specialist from Sydney Eye Hospital Dr Gregory Moloney spoke to the Hit Newsroom about the medical impact of eyelash extensions on eye health, and said that it is important for consumers to be aware of the risks. 

"The skin of the eyelid has special properties that allow it to stretch and move along with the lids as they blind, open widely or squeeze shut," Dr Moloney said.

"This elasticity requires the skin to be thin, without a strong protective keratin layer.

"This makes the eyelid skin particularly prone to allergy and consumers should be aware that any procedure, even the application of makeup, involves the introduction of chemicals to a very sensitive area of the body."

Eyelash extensions have a shelf life of roughly three to six weeks, meaning that the glue holding them in place is significantly stronger than the type used for applying false eyelashes for a night out.

This is where there is a real obligation on the beautician doing the procedure to ensure that the glue is appropriately applied.

Only a small amount is required and if incorrectly placed it could hinder the lashes from staying in place.

Furthermore, too much glue may be harmful to eye health.

"The application of chemicals close to the ocular surface is also bound to carry some risk," Dr Moloney said.

"For instance, if the cornea is scratched or abraded, it can be particularly painful.

"Ophthalmologists encourage consumer to be aware of these risks and seek attention should adverse events occur."

A study in Japan of 107 women with eyelash extensions who visited five ophthalmologic clinics between 2007 and 2010 demonstrated some harrowing consequences of the procedure.

Of these patients, 64 experienced inflammation of the conjunctiva.

Furthermore, 42 had a reaction to the glue and subsequently experienced allergic blepharitis, which is a chronic inflammation of the eyelid. 

Three of the patients experienced conjunctival erosion due to eyelid fixing tape, and one patient experienced allergic blepharitis due to the fixing tape.

Tape is used while eyelash extensions are applied to ensure that the eyelashes from the top and bottom lids do not get stuck together.

One patient also experienced subconjunctival haemorrhage during the removal of the extensions, which is when a red spot appears on the white part of the eyeball. This can remain for several days to weeks.

Overall, it's important to ensure that you're aware of the risks before undergoing the procedure.

Check that the beauty clinic is clean and ask about the types of glues being used, as well as any care tips or warnings you need to know.

A patch test should also be done of the glue to make sure that there is no adverse reaction.

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