Eyelash extensions are a longer-lasting alternative to false eyelashes. They’re applied by a professional cosmetologist or esthetician, and are made out of natural materials such as silk or mink, but also come in synthetic alternatives.
Eyelash extensions can range from soft and natural, adding just a hint of length and volume, to thick and full for a more luxurious look.
While eyelash extensions are a popular beauty procedure and can look great, they don’t come without their risks.
If your eyelids swell after having eyelash extensions applied, it could be for several reasons. The most likely cause of swelling is a reaction to the glue used to adhere the extensions to your lashes. These often include irritating chemicals and ingredients that can cause skin to flare up.
The following ingredients are commonly found in eyelash extension adhesives:
- cellulose gum
- benzoic acid
- formaldehyde, in very low concentrations
We all react differently to these chemicals, and some people are particularly sensitive to such ingredients.
However, the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology states that adhesives containing formaldehyde should never be used, as this is a potentially toxic irritant.
If you’re having eyelash extensions applied for the first time, and you’re not sure how your skin is going to react, the best way to prevent a reaction is to ask the technician for a patch test a day or two before your appointment.
Another reason for swelling could be that the technician used a tool that wasn’t completely sterile to apply your lashes, or they applied them poorly resulting in the adhesive coming into contact with your eye.
This is also why it’s essential to keep your eyes closed during the application process, otherwise you run the risk of getting adhesive – or adhesive vapour – in your eye.
Can medication affect eyelash extensions?
Some medications can alter lash retention as these can impact hormones and body chemistry. Thyroid medications are known to have a negative impact on lash extension longevity, and vitamins or supplements that claim to promote hair growth can also accelerate lash shedding.
A healthy lash takes 2-3 months to complete a growth cycle, but certain medications such as thyroid medications can make your lashes oilier, dryer, or more brittle, which can impact their natural growth and appearance. Dietary changes, pregnancy, or menopause can also affect your lashes.
That said, you should never stop taking prescribed medication because of your eyelash extensions. Consult a medical professional and your lash technician during consultations to see if there are any ways you can troubleshoot these side effects.
This way, you can work out a plan to keep your lashes looking their best, and can have realistic expectations for how often a fill might be needed.
How do I stop my eyelash extensions from itching?
Some people experience irritation in the days and weeks after having their lashes applied. This irritation is often caused by dirt, oil, and debris that’s built up in your lashes and extensions.
Often, those who have had eyelash extensions applied are afraid to get them wet, but it’s essential to wash your lashes gently every day to keep them clean and free from infection-causing bacteria and debris.
If the skin around your eyes is itchy or red after an extension application, wait a day to see if the itching and redness subsides, and gently wash and rinse the lashes to ensure that they’re clean.
If the problem continues after a day, consult with your technician to see what remedies are available to help. If you’re in significant discomfort, seek advice from a healthcare professional.
Healthline also has a few suggestions for treating itchy or irritated eyes after having lash extensions applied. These include:
- cold compresses
- topical hydrocortisone cream
- allergy eye drops
- oral antihistamine products
How do you tell if your eyelash extensions are infected?
Infection is always a possibility with eyelash extensions, and the cause of these is usually poor hygiene protocols. Of course, this is highly unlikely if you go to a certified lash technician who follows correct hygiene procedures, such as washing their hands, wearing disposable gloves, and thoroughly disinfecting their tools.
Eye infections can leave you with red goopy eyes, but if left untreated, they could lead to a vision-threatening corneal ulcer.
Extensions can also cause inflammation of the eyelids and ocular surface. This is a risk especially with longer lashes, as they have a fan effect that increases the amount of airflow to the ocular surface with every blink. As a result, your eyes dry out faster, leading to irritation and potential damage to the ocular surface.
Eyelash extensions can also lead to trapped debris and bacteria building up close to your lash line. If you fail to properly clean your eyelashes every day, it can lead to an inflammatory reaction of the lid margin known as Blepharitis.
Symptoms of Blepharitis include itchy eyelids, a gritty sensation of the eyes, burning, redness, sensitivity to light, sticky eyes, and possible blurred vision. If not treated, these symptoms could increase your risk of developing styes, infections, and dry eyes.
If you experience any of these symptoms you should consult your lash technician and seek advice from an eye doctor.
Is it normal for your eyes to be irritated after eyelash extensions?
Irritation from eyelash extensions should not occur if you’ve had them applied by a certified professional in a clean, hygienic environment where all of the tools being used are thoroughly sterilized. If applied properly, the adhesive or adhesive vapor should not come into contact with your skin or eyes.
What do you do if you have an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions?
An allergic reaction to eyelash extensions is similar to other contact allergies, also known as contact dermatitis. These symptoms can appear in minutes of applying the lashes or can take a few hours to appear. The reaction may occur in one eye, or both, and one may be more severe than the other.
You can usually tell you are suffering an allergic reaction to lash extensions if you have symptoms such as redness, itchiness, and swelling that occur on the eyelid or the eye itself.
Sadly, some of us react badly to the lash adhesive used to apply lash extensions, and if your eyes are very uncomfortable or you’re having an allergic reaction, it’s best to get your lash extensions removed. Don’t attempt this yourself. Instead, go back to the lash technician so they can remove them safely. Some salons will charge a small fee to do this, but many will do it free of charge.
What soothes irritated eyes from eyelash extensions?
If you have some mild irritation, Heathline recommends applying a cold compress to the area or using topical hydrocortisone cream, allergy eye drops, or oral antihistamine products.
However, if your symptoms last longer than 24 to 48 hours, or your symptoms are severe, such as extreme swelling, pain, or itching on either your eyelid or eye, you should definitely seek medical advice.
Things to consider before getting eyelash extensions
For most people, eyelash extensions are applied with no issues and side effects, and many people are very happy with the effects.
However, eyelash extensions aren’t ideal for everyone, and before you get lash extensions for the first time, you should consider whether they’re suitable for your skin and medical history.
Eyelash extensions aren’t a good idea if:
- You have irritated or broken skin on your eyelids
- You’ve experienced eye or skin reactions to products such as eye makeup, eye drops, or eye medication
- You’re allergic to latex or to any of the ingredients used in the glue, prep, or removal products
- You have alopecia areata
- You’re undergoing chemotherapy or radiation
- You have trichotillomania
If you have other health concerns and you’re not sure if eyelash extensions are a good idea, it’s best to consult your healthcare professional before proceeding.
When to stop the procedure
It’s a good idea to know exactly what to expect before getting eyelash extensions. If you’re having them applied for the first time, you should get a patch test on an area of skin such as on your arm to check how your skin reacts to the chemicals.
During the procedure, you shouldn’t experience discomfort. If you feel itching, burning, or tearing up while they’re being applied, pause the procedure to assess your reaction before you continue.
One of the most important things when it comes to eyelash extensions is ensuring you’re visiting a professional, experienced lash technician who is working in a clean environment and following correct hygiene procedures.
When you’re looking for a lash technician, be sure to check online references and reviews, and go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, or the technician doesn’t prep your eyes correctly, you’re in control to stop the procedure in its tracks.
For the most part, eyelash extensions are perfectly safe and they’re an extremely common beauty procedure. Most people walk away delighted with the results.
However, they still come with risks attached, and it’s important to be aware of these.
To reduce the risk of experiencing a reaction, irritation, or infection from your eyelash extensions, be sure to:
- Go to a professional, certified lash technician who is well-reviewed and experienced
- If having lash extensions applied for the first time, or trying a salon for the first time, always get a patch test.
- Go with your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, stop the procedure.
- Keep your lashes clean by gently washing them every day.
If you do experience any adverse reactions or irritation from the lash extension application, seek advice from your lash technician, or if required, your eye doctor or health care professional.
You may need to have the lash extensions removed, but this is better than risking further issues with your eyes in the future.