Many women don’t have time to apply mascara before going out, let alone curl their eyelashes, so it’s no wonder that eyelash extensions have gained extreme popularity in recent years. But here’s the question that you need to ask before going forward with permanent lashes: does the lash-boosting procedure pose a risk to your eyes?
A few days ago, I stumbled upon a video, titled “The Dangers of Eyelash Extensions,” on Facebook in which Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman wearing a pair of oversized sunglasses to conceal her swollen eyelids following an allergic reaction to formaldehyde—an ingredient in the glue used to apply eyelash extensions by many beauty salons.
For those not familiar with the “F word,” formaldehyde is a colorless, pungent gas that is used for home building and household products. In addition, it’s also used in hair keratin, disinfectants, and as a preservative. Aside from causing allergic reactions, the formaldehyde found in adhesives carries the risk of causing eye infections and even natural lash loss.
Despite many claims that most beauty salons use hypoallergenic adhesives, the truth is that no eyelash glue is completely formaldehyde-free. Even if the product is cyanoacrylate-based, a small amount of formaldehyde naturally occurs as the adhesive degrades over time.
But lash addicts shouldn’t worry too much; the truth is that formaldehyde in barely detectable amounts is not as harmful as you may think—in fact, we are exposed to it daily in our homes.
Our verdict: As long as a trained and experienced lash technician applies the synthetic lashes properly, then they are safe and pose no risk to your natural lashes. However, make sure to limit the procedure to once or twice a year. Aside from the ingredients contained in the adhesive, repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia (a condition where hair falls out) due to the excessive tension placed on the hair shaft.
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