How Safe are Eyelash Extensions Really?

There's just no substitute for long, luscious lashes. Each year, women spend thousands of dollars and dozens of hours on beauty products designed to leave their lashes looking amazing. But what if it were possible to wake up every day with long, luscious lashes that require no effort and no upkeep? That's the promise offered by eyelash extensions. The lashes are applied individually to each eyelash, and last anywhere from a few weeks to a month or more. The initial application takes about two hours, and subsequent fill-in appointments take about an hour.

Converts to the craze swear that they save time, money, and sanity, while former devotees caution that the extensions have ruined their lashes and caused terrible reactions. So what's the truth? Like most things, it's somewhere in the middle, and we decided to take a deeper look.

Horror Stories

Extensions have their fair share of horror stories. Famed singer Kristin Chenowith told David Letterman that her lash extensions left her looking like she had lips on her eyelids. The glue used to attach the extensions contained formaldehyde, to which she was allergic. What’s more, in England, the College of Optometrists has gone so far as to recommend against their use explaining, “repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft.”


Cutting Through the Scare Tactics

Every new beauty craze has its detractors, and eyelash extensions are no exception. Makeup can cause allergic reactions, too. As for those attempting to remove the lashes yourself, well, that’s a distinct misuse, so you may indeed lose lashes, just as you might injure your eyes attempting to scrape off waterproof mascara.

In most cases, adverse reactions arise from two issues – misuse, or incorrect application by an unskilled lash stylist. Cheap extensions or a quick application can yield disastrous results. Stylists say, too, that most clients are unaware of the extreme level of precision required.


Lash Extensions: Do or Don't?

Despite the horror stories, we're comfortable giving extensions the green light. They are generally safe, so long as they're applied by a skilled hand and are properly cared for.

What can you do to minimize your risks?  Try these tips:

  • Ensure the salon technicians have undergone proper training in lash extension application. Nail salons are usually a bad place to get extensions.
  • Be wary of fake lash extensions. Real extensions apply a single extension to each lash. Cluster lashes weigh down your natural lashes, and strip extensions are the equivalent of permanently gluing fake eyelashes on top of your real lashes.
  • If you have allergies, notify your stylist, and check the ingredients on the lash glue.
  • Don't try to remove your own lash extensions.
  • Keep the extensions clean and free of oils.
  • Avoid using waterproof mascara.


Already have lash extensions and wondering if your technician did a good job? Be certain you don't see dark patches of black, tangled looking lashes. Also, the better health your natural lashes are in, the better results you’ll see.  

No beauty product is without risk, and until we see evidence otherwise, replacing the drudgery of morning mascara with doe-eyed peepers is a risk worth taking.