No one really wants to think about the downsides of eyelash extensions, but it is important to be aware of some of the potentially dangerous outcomes. The main three risks to watch out for are chemical burns, allergic reactions, and eyepad or tape abrasion. These can present similarly, so knowing how to differentiate between them is essential.
Let's get into these three possible risks of extensions, how they present, and what you should do in the rare case you come across them. Remember — lash artists are not doctors, so this should not be taken as medical advice. Always direct your clients to their doctor if they need medical help.
Chemical Burn From Lash Extensions
Chemical burns can arise if adhesive touches the skin or the client's eyes are exposed to its fumes. Lash extension adhesive contains quite a few chemicals, some of which can be very irritating if they come into contact with skin or eyes.
You need to be careful not to allow fumes from the adhesive to waft into your client's eyes. This is why it is essential that they keep their eyes closed and refrain from talking once you have placed the eyepads.
What does a chemical burn look like? If your client has redness and irritation inside of their eyes, it is likely a burn. There will be redness all over the eyes, not just at the bottom. This is the main difference between a burn and a reaction. Unfortunately, you can't really do all that much to combat a chemical burn after it has happened. Reassure your client that chemical burns tend to go away on their own in a few days, but they can always consult their doctor if necessary.
Allergic Reaction To Lash Extensions
Allergic reactions occur when the body's immune system overreacts to a substance in the adhesive. Virtually every adhesive contains carbon black and cyanoacrylate, both of which can trigger allergic reactions.
If your client is sensitive or allergic to certain eye makeup like mascara, they might also be sensitive to black adhesive. If so, try a clear adhesive that does not contain carbon black. Sometimes that's all it takes to steer clear of a reaction!
However, if they are still having a reaction, it might be the cyanoacrylate. This is harder to avoid, as it is the chemical that makes adhesive sticky. There are sensitive adhesives on the market; these usually just contain a smaller amount of cyanoacrylate and don't work as well as normal adhesive. If you narrow the reaction down to this, your client is likely just not a good extension candidate.
As opposed to a chemical burn, an allergic reaction presents on the outside of the eyes. This means swollen eyelids, watering eyes, and possibly a runny nose or trouble breathing. Your client will need to have the extensions removed and can consult their doctor about how to treat the symptoms, although a cold compress can help in the meantime. While rare, allergic reactions can be serious and generally eliminate the individual as a candidate for extensions again.
If you need more evidence, you can read one of our own personal experiences with an allergic reaction to lash glue here. It’s not for the faint of heart!
Eye Abrasion From Eyepads / Tape
Irritation from the placement of the eyepads or tape can appear quite similar to a chemical burn. If they are placed too close to the eyes or shift during the service, the eyepads and tape can rub the eyes uncomfortably. This essentially causes a paper cut on the eyes themselves — ow!
If you see a straight, sharp irritation line in your client's eyes, it is likely due to the eyepads or tape. This is different than a chemical burn, which is more spread out and less defined. There isn't much to be done about this kind of abrasion other than wait it out for a few days.
Wondering how to properly apply eyepads and tape to avoid an abrasion on the eye? Check out our favorite way to place them for maximum comfort and protection below!
We hope this quick rundown was informative and gives you a little more confidence about dealing with the risks of eyelash extensions! Although some of these are out of your control, it's important to do all you can to keep your clients comfortable and safe.
Happy and healthy lashing, everyone!