Eyelash extensions are synthetic fibers, such as silk or polyester, that a cosmetologist applies to a person’s natural lashes. They make the eyelashes appear longer and fuller for several weeks following the application.

For some people, eyelash extensions may cause an allergic reaction or lead to other eye health issues. If a reaction occurs, a person should remove the eyelash extensions and seek treatment as soon as possible.

Continue reading to find out more about allergic reactions to eyelash extensions.

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A person should remove the eyelash extensions if they experience an allergic reaction.

An allergic reaction to eyelash extensions is similar to other contact allergies, also known as contact dermatitis.

Symptoms can appear within a few minutes to a few hours after the cosmetologist first put the extensions in place.

An allergic reaction to eyelash extensions can occur in one or both of the eyes. If both, it may be more severe in one eye than the other. Typical symptoms include redness, itchiness, and swelling that occurs on the eyelid or the eye itself.

In most cases, a person is allergic to the glue or adhesive that attaches the eyelashes. Often, the glue leaks onto the eyelid or into the eye, which can cause a reaction to occur.

In a small study from 2012, researchers found that participants had allergic reactions involving their eyes or eyelids due to the glue or tape that the cosmetologist used to attach the eyelash extensions.

They noted that all the products contained formaldehyde, a cause of keratoconjunctivitis, which is inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.

In addition to formaldehyde, a person may be allergic to lead, or benzoic acid, which certain cosmetic products may contain.

The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology recommend that a person ask their cosmetologist what ingredients are in the glue.

To avoid an allergic reaction, they recommend using formaldehyde-free products and avoiding washing the face for a few hours after the application of eyelash extensions.

A person may have an allergic reaction in their eyelid or eye. Where the allergic reaction occurs affects the symptoms that a person may experience.

Allergic reaction in the eyelids

According to a 2019 study, the most common complication associated with eyelash extensions was allergic blepharitis. A person with allergic blepharitis may experience:

  • tearing
  • irritation
  • redness
  • itchiness
  • swelling

The allergic reaction may occur on both eyelids, but it might be worse on one of them. It can happen soon after the application of the eyelashes or take several hours or days to occur.

Allergic reaction in the eyes

Allergic reactions in the eyes can cause various symptoms, such as:

  • redness
  • irritation
  • itchiness
  • watery eyes

The allergic reaction can happen during the application process, or it can take between several hours and a few days to occur. An allergic reaction can result from direct contact with the glue, or the vapors of the glue can cause it.

Depending on the severity of the allergic reaction, a person may have symptoms that last from a few hours to a few days.

Treatment can also affect how long a person may experience reactions to the eyelash extensions. A person should talk to their doctor if their reactions persist after a few days.

In cases of mild reaction, a person may be able to treat the symptoms at home. They can try:

  • eye drops
  • cold compresses
  • antihistamines
  • hydrocortisone cream or ointment

It is also important to resist the temptation to rub the eyes if they are itchy.

If symptoms are severe, a person should see their doctor for treatment. A doctor can assess the severity of the reaction and provide specific treatment for it.

A person should take care to choose a licensed cosmetologist who can safely perform the procedure and to check the salon for general cleanliness.

If the procedure uses unsanitary equipment or takes place in an unclean area, it could cause reactions or infections in the person’s eyes.

In addition, a person should keep their eyes closed during the application process. Doing this should prevent the glue from dripping into the eyes.

Furthermore, the vapors from the glue can irritate the eyes. Contact with the glue or the vapors can result in symptoms of irritation.

Some people are more prone than others to react to eyelash extensions. The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology recommend that people with certain conditions or risk factors avoid getting eyelash extensions. These people include those who:

  • have alopecia
  • have trichotillomania, which is a condition that causes people to want to pull out their eyelashes
  • are receiving radiation or chemotherapy treatment
  • have an allergy to latex or any ingredients present in the adhesive or lashes
  • are already experiencing inflammation or irritation in the eyes or have open wounds on them

If a person has an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions, they will need to use alternative products for their lashes.

Eyelash extensions generally replace the use of mascara, so a person could use mascara instead to achieve longer and fuller looking lashes. They might also find that eyelash curlers help create this look.

A person may also experience allergic reaction symptoms in response to other foreign objects. Some possible causes of allergic reactions in the eye or eyelid include:

  • smoke
  • pollen
  • pollution
  • perfume
  • other cosmetic products
  • other seasonal allergies

Eyelash extensions can cause allergic reactions in the eyelid or eye.

If a person has an allergic reaction, they should remove the eyelash extensions. They should also avoid getting eyelash extensions in the future and use mascara instead.

A person can often treat the allergic reaction with at-home solutions, such as eye drops or allergy medications.

If a reaction is severe, a person should visit their doctor.