Every week, the Scoop examines alarming new claims to help you make sense of the latest health research.
Forget false eyelashes you apply at homeÃ¢â‚¬”the latest lash trend (inspired by stars likeÃ‚Â Heidi Klum, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian) is eyelash extensions. To get them,Ã‚Â an aesthetician uses tweezers to glue individual strands of silk, synthetic material, or mink to each of your natural lashes one by one. The process takes about two hours, costs from $200 to $1,000, and can last about three weeks before they grow out and need to be removed or replaced.
While the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) generally recommends that false eyelashes be applied by a professional for safety reasons, earlierÃ‚Â this monthÃ‚Â the AAOÃ‚Â warned consumers that even eyelash extensions from a salon may causeÃ‚Â infections of the cornea and eyelid, as well contact dermatitis caused by an allergic reaction to the type of glue salons use. Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m seeing more and more patients with injuries caused by extensions, some of which can threaten a womanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vision,Ã¢â‚¬Â explains Rebecca Taylor, MD, an ophthalmologist in Nashville, Tennessee, and a clinical spokesperson for the AAO.
Infections and allergic reactions arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t the only problems. Another danger is the temporary or permanent loss of your natural eyelashes, which can happen if the extensions damage the lash follicle or are so heavy they put tension on the lash, causing breakage. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Eyelashes have an important function: They sweep dirt and debris away from your eyes, preserving vision,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Taylor. Losing yours temporarily is harmful enough, but if they never grow back, you set yourself up for a lifetime of eye issues.
That said, if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve been thinking of getting themÃ¢â‚¬”the Bambi eyes look can be seriously sexyÃ¢â‚¬”you can lower your risk of complications by taking a few precautions. First, hit up a reputable salon, and have the procedure done by a certified experienced aesthetician. Ã¢â‚¬Å“An inexperienced aesthetician can easily cut the eyeball or cornea,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Taylor. Ouch. Also, a salon with an iffy reputation may not encourage staffers to wash their hands and utensils properly between customers, and that can spread infection-causing microbes.
Next, ask the aesthetician not to use glue that contains formaldehyde. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Many of the glues used for extensions contain this chemical, which can cause an allergic reaction resulting in stinging, burning, swelling, and a rash on contact or up to a week later,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Taylor. Even if you donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re allergic to formaldehyde, play it safe and insist on a glue without it.
Once the extensions are on, watch for symptoms such as pain, itching, or redness, says Taylor. If these develop, resist the urge to scratch or tug the extensions, which can make things worse, and see an ophthalmologist, who can diagnose the issue and prescribe any necessary meds, she says. And be vigilant about lash breakage: Should the fake lashes start causing your real ones to fracture and fall off, get the extensions removed by a professional and score seductive eyes the safer wayÃ¢â‚¬”with a mascara wand.
The verdict: Eyelash extensions can pose a serious health threat toÃ‚Â your eyes and even cause permanent damage. While your best bet is to avoid them, make sure to take the necessary safety precautions if you feel like you absolutelyÃ‚Â have to try them.