If you've ever longed to have long, thick eyelashes, this article is for you. Unfortunately, for those with dry eyes, using loads of mascara is out of the question because the ingredients can be irritating, cause allergies, and lead to more inflammation of the eyes.
You may think that eyelash extensions are the next best option for fuller lashes, but this is not always the case. Lash extensions come in many different forms, including less expensive synthetic false lashes, silk lashes, those made of mink, and even magnetic lashes. Although some synthetic lashes can be bought in a drugstore and applied at home, other forms are readily available for application in salons around the world.
Once you've selected your type of eyelashes in a salon, the lashes are applied one at a time using a semipermanent glue. Sadly, this glue often contains formaldehyde, latex, and other harsh ingredients that can be horrible for sensitive eyes. Some lashes can actually be tied onto your own, but these are still not free of complications. If you're set on having a full set of lashes applied, you're in for a two hour appointment with touch-ups recommended every few weeks. If you only wish to have a little enhancement, you could also have them apply just a few lashes.
So, you might ask, what's the big deal? Yes, your eyes will be closed the entire time the procedure is going on. If you're at a reputable, licensed salon, they're going to have trained lash technicians who will avoid getting the glue into your eyes at all costs. However, that doesn't mean you're immune to complications. As we've said before, anyone can react to anything at any time.
Eyelash Extension Care to Prevent an Infection
Complications from extensions can include allergic reactions to the adhesive, natural eyelash loss, keratoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva), styes, abrasions, and subconjunctival hemorrhages.
Although this seems like a large variety of things, the most common issue (and one that can contribute to almost all of the conditions mentioned above) is blepharitis. By definition, blepharitis is inflammation of the eyelids. This can occur for many reasons, but the most likely culprit in this case is bacteria build up. As bacteria increases around your natural eyelashes and extensions, this bacteria multiplies and creates biofilm. Biofilm begins to invade the lash follicles and can soon affect the meibomian glands of the eyelids.
When this happens, blepharitis is in full swing, and it is often difficult to manage once it hits a certain level of severity. The answer to this? Prevent bacteria and biofilm in the first place by seeing the proper specialist (lash technician) and following a great eyelid hygiene routine.
The first step to preventing complications from lash extensions is to make sure you're at a salon with licensed lash technicians. These people have been trained to prevent infection and complications when applying your lashes. Make sure they use a better (less harsh) adhesive, such as Milante Beauty Super Strip Lash Bond.
After applied, avoid getting water onto your eyelashes for 12-24 hours so that the adhesive is able to fully set. Although further care depends on what adhesive is used, it is generally accepted not to use alcohol or oil-based makeup remover products on your eyelashes, as these can damage the adhesive and cause your eyelashes to fall off.
How To Prevent Eyelash Extension Complications like Infections and Blepharitis from Eyelash Extensions
It is also incredibly important to keep the eyelids and lashes extremely clean when you have lash extensions, because they can breed bacteria and cause overall inflammation and nasty infections, such a styes. We recommend using a hypochlorous acid eyelid cleanser each morning and evening for best results. The Heyedrate Lid and Lash Cleanser is perfect for this because it contains no alcohol, no harsh chemicals, and no oil which could damage your lashes. It also ensures you'll be less likely to struggle with blepharitis and infections if you do decide to try lash extensions.
If we see a patient with lash extensions that is having problems with them, especially those who have an infection, we can remove them in office. This can also be done at home, although it is recommended to have them removed by your doctor or esthetician.
First, a hot, damp compress can be applied to loosen the glue.
Then, oil is used to help soften and remove the adhesive. Oils that are safe to use include olive oil, coconut oil, argan oil, or other similar oils.
By using heat and oil, the lashes can be mechanically removed with your fingertips or with forceps (if you're having them removed by your doctor).
Other ways to remove eyelash extensions include using commercially available remover which, unfortunately, smells like nail polish remover (which means it contains tons of chemicals). Whatever you use, it is best to have them removed by a professional.
Other Forms of Eyelash Cosmetics and Extensions To Be Cautious Of
Magnetic False Eyelashes and Complications
Although magnetic lashes do not use any adhesive, they can still be problematic for those with irritated eyes to begin with. Magnetic lashes are applied with magnets around your natural eyelashes. Risks can still include mechanical trauma to your cornea, lashes that fall or break off into the eyes, and bacteria build-up leading to styes and other infections (since the lashes are reusable). Main brands include 3 Second Lash, One Two Lash, ILash, and Ardell Magnetic. Use with caution!
Eyelash Perming and Complications
This is an interesting one! Eyelash perming is done by wrapping your eyelashes around a metal or plastic rod while perming solution is applied (NOTE: very close to the eyes!) Although the eyes are closed when this procedure is performed, it is not impossible for the solution to get into the eyes, just like eye makeup remover will get into your eyes because the eyelids do not create a tight seal. Perming solution can cause a whole host of issues including redness and inflammation, allergies to the solution, and infection.
Eyelash Tinting and Complications
Eyelash tinting is another interesting one which uses hair dye very close to the eyes. Keep in mind that hair dye is often "permanent" and cannot be removed for weeks or months, so if you happen to be one of the (un)lucky ones who reacts to the dye, you're going to be dealing with complications for months. Allergies as well as contact blepharoconjunctivitis are possible side effects here. Our opinion? Stay away!
Eyelash Growth Serums and Complications
Now you're thinking, "I'll just forget about mascara and extensions and use growth serums instead"...Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this isn't better for those with sensitive eyes either.
Latisse, the only FDA approved eyelash growth serum, was approved in 2008 and was quickly followed by other non-prescription growth serums flooding the market. Nearly ALL growth serums contain synthetic prostaglandins, which actually cause inflammation in your body. So if you use an eyelash growth serum, you're bound to end up with red, irritated eyes and eyelids, hyperpigmented skin, changes in eye color (light to dark), itching, and other complications.
If you want to try one that may be less irritating, try a non-prostaglandin formula like Ocusoft's Zoria. This still contains some potentially harsh ingredients, but it's the best of the bunch when it comes to those with dry, sensitive eyes.
Eyelid Tattooing and Complications
Although this doesn't fall under the quest for long, beautiful eyelashes, it does often go right along with it. Because some people with dry eyes cannot tolerate commercially available eyeliner, they turn to tattooing.
However, just like eyelash extensions, this is not without complications! Tattoo ink can cause allergic reactions and inflammation because it contains iron oxides, aluminum silicate, and carbon nanoparticles. Yum...This can cause bruising and swelling, allergies, infections, scarring, granulomas, blepharitis, and the ink will actually fade over time.
So, if you wanted black eyeliner, you may eventually end up with blue eyeliner. Great.
I know we all want to have lush, amazing eyelashes...but at what cost? I hope we've been able to shed some light on lash extensions, serums, and their complications. As always, let us know if you have any questions or feedback!