What Eye Doctors Really Think About Eyelash Extensions

Photographed by Rochelle Brock.
Here's a message from your eye doctor: Please, please lay off of the eyelash extensions. Sorry, don't hate the messenger. Of all the lash enhancement options — glue-on lash strips, magnetic lashes, eyelash extensions, and growth solutions like Rapidlash — the optometrists we spoke to were adamant about one thing: eyelash extensions should be your last option.
Even though the lashes that add length and volume for weeks are super convenient, they could actually be causing more harm than you think. "I’ve seen quite a few patients who have developed allergic lid reactions, infections, styes, and dry eyes as a result of the glue used during eyelash extensions," Jennifer Tsai, OD, a New York-based optometrist who specialises in eye health and vision care, tells Refinery29. The American Academy of Ophthalmology also reported on the risks of eyelash extensions in 2018, including the potential for permanent damage to the eyelash follicle, trauma to the eyelid, and allergic reactions.
Aside from eye health risks, salon extensions can also cause long-term damage to your natural lashes over time. "I can't tell you how many times I've had patients come in with a decrease in the amount of eyelashes because of the glue," says Veronica Ruelas, OD, optometrist and founder of the ThirdEyeVision Foundation. "Eyelash extensions tend to have that addictive property, where people have to keep going back and getting them done. Because with their natural lashes falling off, they have less than when they started [extensions], so they feel like they need them now even more." And Dr. Tsai echoes, "Long-term usage will cause wear and tear to your natural lashes."
Both eye doctors agree that it's better to use a glue-less option, like a reliable mascara or magnetic lashes, but knowing that people will continue to seek the service, they advise to tread lightly. "Save eyelash extensions for special occasions," suggests Dr. Tsai. And when you do go, make sure to do your homework. Find an experienced salon that will place the lashes correctly. Not all states require lash technicians to have a cosmetology license or aesthetician certification, so make sure to ask your provider about their credentials. It's also critical that you're in a sanitary setting for their service. "Anytime you're adhering something to the delicate tissues of the eyes, you're creating a possibility of infection or styes. So, you want to make sure that the adhesive and extensions they're putting on are sterile and approved for use around the eyes," Andrea Thau, OD, president of the American Optometric Association and spokesperson for Think About Your Eyes, previously told R29.
We know it's going to be hard to part ways with your monthly eyelash appointment, but try to stretch the weeks between fill-ins the same way you're cutting down on the coffee breaks in the new year. For 2019, we're manifesting healthier lashes.

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