The long lash-ting effects
A craze that has begun sweeping the world of beauty and makeup lately is the lash extension. Individual lashes made from either mink, silk or synthetic plastic fibres are glued to your natural lashes to create a longer, fuller look. More recently, the love for lash extensions has been joined by the lash lift, a simpler, more straightforward alternative involving perming your natural lashes. Both treatments dramatically alter the appearance of your eyelashes, but both come with a considerable number of risks pertaining to your eye health. It’s crucial that you understand what is and isn’t normal following your treatments, and are fully aware of the potential side effects before you proceed with your lash transformation.
Risks of lash extensions
First and foremost, it’s important to realise that lash extensions involve lots of glue. This is to stick the individual artificial lashes to your natural lashes for long enough that they last an entire lash growth cycle of 4-9 weeks. Aside from potentially having an allergic reaction to the glue (you should always have a patch test elsewhere on your body before committing to having the glue on your eyelashes), you might experience erosion of the inner surface of the eyelid. This can lead to a loss of eyelashes, inflammation, irritation and redness.
The extensions can also cause bacteria to become trapped on your upper lash line and this, combined with the glue, especially when it hasn’t completely set, can lead to infection. All infections around the eye can temporarily impair your vision and cause blurriness, but sometimes can become much more serious and threaten your sight. Similarly, allergic reactions to the glue can also cause swelling and redness, occasionally even oozing and crusting. Surveys have shown that 98% of women who had eyelash extensions experienced at least one of the following symptoms: dry eyes, itchy or swollen eyelids, excessive tearing, a burning sensation, or secretion of pus. The procedure is also associated with traction alopecia, resulting in a loss of hairs due to too much weight or pressure placed on the hair follicle. This is quite a common side effect, especially as the artificial lashes grow out and begin to pull on the natural lash they are glued to.
Some of the serums used by lash technicians have dangerous side effects too. These range from common itching and redness to permanently darkened eyelids and permanent changes to iris colour. More worryingly, the serums have also been found to lower your eye pressure. Eye pressure is a very important indicator of several eye conditions, which may go undetected if it is artificially lowered. This could mask glaucoma, problems with aqueous drainage, and even hide a key symptom of diabetic eye disease. Some of these conditions can actually lead to loss of vision, so it’s important to be able to detect them quickly – something not always possible if the patient has had lash treatments.
Risks of lash lifts
Lash lifts have become more popular in recent years due to the natural look and feel of the results. This is because the lashes are entirely your own, involving no glue or synthetic fibres at all. A perming solution is applied and the lashes are curled upwards to give them the “lift” that has become so sought-after. As with lash extensions, everyone should have a patch test prior to the treatment to ensure that you aren’t allergic to any of the chemicals in the perming solution. Again, allergic reactions could lead to redness, itching, and inflammation of the eye and lid area.
Side effects don’t only impact the external eye area; if the solution enters your eye, you are at risk of developing a burn or corneal ulcer. The perming solution can also cause blisters and rashes around the eyes, resulting in a loss of lashes. This leaves your eyes vulnerable to dust and bacteria, increasing probability of infections. In more serious cases, lash lifts can cause chemical-induced blepharitis. This is a condition which causes crusting and inflammation of the eyelids, leading to sore eyes, swelling and discolouration under the eyelids. It can even lead to blurry or distorted vision, and requires treatment in the form of lid therapy and cooling gel supplements. The chemicals in the solution can act as a catalyst for blepharitis and accelerate its progression.
In the medical industry, all companies must share the ingredients and components of each product so that people understand exactly what’s in their medication. In the beauty industry, however, this duty for transparency isn’t regulated in the same way. Beauty companies are not required to share the ingredients, or to reveal the percentages of each chemical in each product. This allows certain things to slip through the net, and components that may not be entirely safe are allowed to be pushed out to the public. Most perming solutions include ammonium which has since been found to be toxic to the cornea and conjunctiva. This would explain the widespread negative side effects and reactions to lash lifts, and poses extreme risks to people’s eyesight.
When should you avoid lash treatments?
Lash treatments are often deemed risky procedures, but whether or not you go ahead is entirely up to you. There are, however, certain conditions which make you more at risk of developing complications following treatment. If you are prone to eye infections, styes, sensitive skin, or have eye allergies, you should consider lash treatments more carefully. Similarly, if you have chronic dry eye or excessively watery eyes, you need to be aware that lash treatments can exacerbate these conditions, potentially even causing them to become more long-term and more severe.
People who are unsuitable for lash treatments also include patients who have had any type of eye surgery, such as lid lifts, or laser eye surgery in the past year. This is to ensure the eye has fully healed and won’t be adversely impacted by any glue or perming solutions.
If you’ve been affected by dry eye or blepharitis, we can help treat your symptoms and relieve some of the discomfort and irritation with our treatment plans. Get in touch with us to see what we can do. And remember, if you’re in doubt about eyelash treatment, mascara is often a simpler, cheaper, safer option.