Many people want full, long, dramatic eyelashes. It is not surprising that a recent trend in the beauty industry is the application of eyelash extensions. Eyelash extensions are usually done by aestheticians or technicians in a spa or a salon. The extensions are made from either synthetic fiber such as nylon, or natural fibers such as silk or mink, and the eyelash extension strands are secured to the base of a person’s own lashes with an adhesive. The extensions will fall out with the person’s natural lashes and therefore usually last between 1-2 months.
Currently, there are no regulations in Canada regarding who can apply eyelash extensions or the products that can be used. Caution should be exercised when sharp objects such as tweezers come into close contact with the eye area. The adhesives used during the procedure can also be harmful, as most are based on cyanoacrylate compounds. These compounds can contain or release small amounts of formaldehyde, which can be toxic. If the glue comes into contact with the eyelid skin or the surface of the eye, it can cause an allergic reaction or a chemical burn. If the surface of the eyelid or cornea is compromised, an infection is more likely to occur which can result in scarring and even permanent vision loss. Also, damage to accessory oil and water glands on the margin of the eye could reduce the volume of tears produced which can result in dry eye issues. The false eyelashes also add weight to the natural lashes, and can cause temporary or permanent madarosis (loss of lashes).
Consumers should take the following precautions to potentially minimize the risks associated with eyelash extensions:
- Review the technician’s certification and prior experience
- Ensure the procedure is performed in a sanitary and reputable establishment
- Check that the technician is practicing proper hand washing and the instruments have been properly sanitized
- Check the ingredients in the adhesive before use