Throughout the world, long, dark eyelashes are considered an attractive and desirable trait by humans. Like the hair on our heads, we perceive long, bushy eyelashes as indicators of physical health (some medical conditions can cause eyelashes to fall out). Therefore, eyelash extensions are a rising fashion and beauty trend.

On a purely visual level, these extensions also make our eyes appear larger and brighter. Both are characteristics that evoke feelings of warmth and confidence.

For millennia, humans have tried to make their natural lashes appear longer, thicker, and darker. We have tried curling them, lengthening them with mascara and applying “fake” stickers.

However, we recently turned to eyelash extensions . Some salons charge hundreds of dollars or more for each application of these realistic looking temporary lashes .

Hidden dangers of eyelash extensions

Although eyelash extensions can give you an extra touch of glamor, there are some downsides and risks. In fact, you should be aware of these potential complications before investing in your own outfit.

Being informed in advance can make the difference between having healthy eyes or unpleasant eye health problems.

1. Irritation of the eyelids

The occasional use of eyelash extensions may not cause any harm to the eyes, but frequent use can irritate the eyelids.

Not only can the adhesive used to bond the lashes together be damaging to the tissues around the eye, but over time, extensions can cause blepharitis, an inflammation of the eyelid that can also hinder tear production.

Tears are not just a visible expression of strong emotions; They are also an essential component of eye health. Your tears help keep your eyes moisturized and also remove debris and irritants from your corneas.

Blepharitis can be acute or chronic, and unfortunately, it cannot be cured.

2. Eye infections

Your lashes help prevent airborne debris from entering your eye. If your natural lashes can protect your eye from infection, can’t lash extensions do the same?

Unfortunately not. In fact, eyelash extensions and false eyelashes can trap harmful bacteria, including Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), causing a variety of harmful infections.

These infections can include a stye (a white bump on the eyelid that causes itching, swelling, pain, and discharge) and bacterial conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis can cause eye redness, tearing, pain, and discharge.

If you decide to use eyelash extensions, it is important that you take care to keep them clean by washing your hands regularly and avoiding touching your eyes.

3. Scleritis

One of the side effects of eye irritation is bloodshot sclera (the white part of the eye), which is the opposite image of what you are trying to achieve by wearing eyelash extensions in the first place.

False eyelashes are supposed to be a beautification tool, and the last thing you want is for them to pay more attention to your red, inflamed, and watery eyes.

If you find your eyelash extensions causing visible irritation and redness in your eyes, consider switching to mascara.

4. Allergic reactions

Before buying eyelash extensions, or any other type of false eyelashes, you should do your research and find out exactly what ingredients are in the adhesive. Many consumers will be surprised to learn that some lash adhesives contain formaldehyde, a respiratory irritant, and a known carcinogen.

This caustic chemical is commonly used as a chemical preservative in medical laboratories and morgues, and it can be incredibly damaging to the delicate skin around the eyes and can even cause allergic reactions. Avoiding products that contain formaldehyde is essential to protect eye health and general health.

5. Loss of eyelashes

Lashes don’t exist just to make your eyes look prettier. In fact, your eyelashes are one of your body’s natural defenses against eye injury, and frequent use of eyelash extensions can compromise this important defense mechanism.

One of the risks of eyelash extensions is a condition known as traction alopecia, a form of hair loss that occurs when excessive tension is applied to the hair shaft for an extended period of time.

Also, because lash extensions are attached directly to your natural lashes, removal can sometimes remove lashes entirely.

Eyelash baldness is not only visually unappealing, it also leaves your eyes more vulnerable to injury and infection.

In the same way that our skin acts as a barrier against pathogens that enter our bodies, our eyelashes help filter out dust, debris, and microbes that can cause corneal injury, bacterial infections, and more.

6. Rashes

An allergic reaction is the most severe response to irritation that eyelash extensions can cause, but there are other milder reactions that can be just as bothersome. If the chemicals in the lash adhesive irritate your skin, you may experience an itchy, uncomfortable rash in the eye area.

Rashes around the eye can be especially bothersome because they occur in a very delicate section, and the scrapes and scrapes that people often scratch can further damage the already delicate and inflamed skin on the lids and under the eyes.

7. Tearing

Most of us can keep our hands away from our eyes when we are awake, but when we sleep it is a different matter.

In fact, you can pull your eyelash extensions out while you sleep, either by rubbing your eyes or simply rolling over and catching them between your cheek and the pillow.

Often times when eyelash extensions are pulled out, they take your natural lashes with them. In addition to the loss of eyelashes mentioned above, this can cause pain and discomfort.

8. Your eyelids can get stuck

If you pay a spa professional to install your lash extension, you probably won’t experience this problem. But if you go for the cheap option and try to apply them yourself, you could end up with a difficult situation on your hands.

If you apply too much glue to your extensions, you run the risk of sticking your upper and lower lashes together, sealing your eyes in the process. If this happens, it can be very difficult to remove the glue without causing pain and permanent damage to your lashes.

9. Brittle eyelashes

In addition to hair loss caused by extensions that pull on natural lashes, extensions can also cause lash breakage.

This can leave your natural lashes with an uneven appearance that is difficult to disguise with mascara. To cover it, some people simply apply more extensions, thus perpetuating the cycle of hair breakage and loss.

In addition to having an undesirable appearance, broken eyelashes can leave your eyes more vulnerable to irritation from your surroundings and infection.

10. Possible long-term consequences

Most of the side effects we’ve discussed here have been short-term and finite in nature. However, because there have been no long-term studies on the risks of eyelash extensions, it is possible that there are longer-lasting effects that we are not yet aware of.

An important consideration is the cancer risk associated with the ingredients in the lash adhesive. Consistent use of any cosmetic product that contains carcinogens can increase your overall risk of cancer throughout your life.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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