Lash extensions make you feel great, but not so much if you get a lash allergy afterward. Are they the same as irritations? What does an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions look like? Why do they happen?
As a lash artist myself, it is crucial to understand the nuances between an allergic reaction and irritation to offer the best support to your client. As a client, knowing what symptoms to look for is a valuable piece of information to communicate to your stylist.
In this article, I’ll tell you all about lash allergies and more about the duration, causes, treatments, and tips for preventing lash allergies so that you can be safe.
Ready? Read on!
Disclaimer: Although I have been doing eyelash extensions for years, I am not a doctor. All content and information in this post are for informational and educational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your own Medical Provider regarding any questions or concerns you have about your specific health before implementing any recommendations or suggestions from our Website.
Understanding Eyelash Extension Allergies: Are They the Same as Irritations?
First off, lash extension allergies and irritations are opposites. One is severe and lasts a long time, and the other is simply a discomfort that often disappears quickly.
For starters, allergy is an extremely sensitive reaction from your immune system to foreign bodies called allergens. Put simply, false lash allergies happen when something is causing an allergic reaction.
On the contrary, lash irritation translates to a reaction from exposure to something that already happened.
Just as not everyone is allergic to everything, there is a whole range of lash extension allergies with diverse symptoms and reactions that occurs differently in different people.
So how to differentiate between a lash allergy and irritation?
|Lash Allergy||Lash Irritation|
|Shows up immediately but can also reveal after 24 to 48 hours.||Shows up immediately, such as within minutes.|
|It can occur in one eye or both eyes.||Usually occurs in one eye.|
|One eye will have a severe reaction.||Different eyes may have varied reactions.|
|It can last a few hours to a few days.||Disappears within a day.|
|Worsens untreated with time.||Improves with every passing hour.|
Symptoms and Causes of Eyelash Extension Allergies
Unlike lash extension allergies, lash irritations result from poor hygiene, poor application, seasonal allergies, chemical burns, or simply because the lash adhesive touched your skin instead of hair fibers.
You can even get irritations if you open your eyes midway through the lash treatment or when you’re not supposed to. But, allergies are more complicated and messy.
Let’s look at how and why it happens!
Symptoms Of Lash Allergies
Lash allergies often occur, with several symptoms occurring all at once. While it can differ based on the biology of the wearer and the chemistry of the allergen, the following signs are most common. They will help you narrow down a lash allergy.
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
Causes of Lash Allergies
Eyelash extension allergies may be triggered by your body’s hypertensive reaction against any type of cosmetic product used by the lash tech. To be fair, lash allergies aren’t anyone’s fault, unlike lash irritations.
While lash allergies are rare, most arise from lash adhesives.
So, people who are allergic to lash glue or any of its ingredients may often see symptoms like redness, swelling, puffiness, and itchiness around their eyes. Moreover, cyanoacrylate allergies can take three days to show up.
Another common allergic ingredient in lash glue is carbon black. It’s a dye that gives black color to the lash glue. However, it’s rarely allergic to people and often depends on your physiology.
Truth be told, only 3% of eyelash extension wearers suffer from allergies related to lash adhesives.
A study from way back in 2012 showed allergic reactions after eyelash extensions could also be a result of the tape used by the tech apart from the lash glue. These tapes are typically used to seal your eyes shut before working on your extensions.
But most lash extension allergies owe it to natural lashes, especially mink and silk lash fibers. The rule of thumb is to avoid mink fur fibers if you’re allergic to cats, dogs, or the furs of other animals.
I always suggest choosing synthetic lashes over natural fibers. Why? They’re durable, hypoallergenic, and require low-maintenance.
How Long Does An Allergic Reaction To Eyelash Extensions Last?
Lash allergies can last from a few hours to a few days, depending on what you’re allergic to. On the flip side, lash irritations fade away quickly but lash allergies worsen over time, as I’ve shared initially.
While irritations often occur from previous exposure, allergies result from continuous exposure. That’s why allergies won’t stop until you stop the cause altogether. That’s why you need to eliminate the allergen first, preferably by lash extension removal.
If you have a lash allergy, talk to your lash tech and an eye doctor so that they can guide you on what to do next. That said, rest assured because lash allergies can disappear quickly with treatment.
Why Am I Suddenly Allergic To Eyelash Extensions?
Did you get a new lash tech? Perhaps you went for a cheap option or an unlicensed lash tech?
In either case, the lack of experience might’ve made extensions unhygienic. Using cheap products is also a significant cause of allergies. Many uncertified techs also forget to disinfect between clients, so there’s that too.
Additionally, lousy lash tech may use old/expired lash glue or other outdated products that can cause serious allergic reactions.
Sudden lash allergies also coincide with new lash products or styles. So, have you been getting any new styles done?
If you’ve started a new aftercare product or routine, blepharitis may be the culprit. This generally happens when your aftercare routine isn’t up to the mark.
You might not know this, but even underlying medical conditions and hypersensitivity can worsen or introduce new lash allergies. It could be a personal reason like shifting to a new house, returning from vacationing in strange places or even adding seasonal allergies to the mix.
Another thing to watch out for is latex used in lash adhesives to make it hold onto the natural lash stronger.
But most people aren’t allergic to latex. However, latex can build up over time and cause an allergic reaction even if you weren’t allergic at first.
In such a case, allergies can get severe over time.
For some people, the allergic reaction is developed over time from regular exposure to allergens.
What To Do If You Have A Lash Extension Allergy?
If you have lash allergies, it’ll go from bad to worse until the lash adhesive (or allergen in it) is removed from your eyes. In such a case, you must immediately inform the lash tech so that they can remove the extensions.
The second thing to do if you suspect a lash allergy is to go to a doctor.
But, if you want to be prepared for what might happen at the oculist’s office, I can share some basic pointers.
- If it’s not severe, you might be recommended a cold compress. Although, make sure to avoid smashing your extensions in this case.
- They may recommend eye drops. Check out our article on which eye drops are the safest for lash extension wearers.
- You may get oral antihistamines to deal with it.
- Some oculists may even prescribe ointments or creams with antihistamines to bring down the symptoms. Watch out for oils, salt, and alcohol in the product to avoid ripping off your extensions. Here are a few dos and don’ts to watch out for with eyelash extensions.
However, if the allergy is serious or nothing works, you might need to remove the lash extensions as a last resort.
How To Prevent Lash Extension Allergy?
Avoiding allergies and lash irritations like red or bloodshot eyes is easier if you care for a few things.
The first thing to avoid lash allergies is using an anti-allergy gel that doesn’t clash with your lash extension routine.
I’ve written a full guide on bloodshot red eyes from lash extensions here if you want to know more about the causes and treatments.
You can also tell the lash tech to get a lash glue without carbon black if you’re sensitive to the black dye.
By conveying your concerns with the lash tech, they might’ve options for you regarding lash adhesives with lesser cyanoacrylates.
At Divine Lashes, we often do an allergy patch test when using new clients or products, but you can ask for it if your tech isn’t actively doing so.
In case you’re overconcerned, ask to check the ingredients of the products yourself.
Now you know why lash allergies are a different topic from lash irritations.
Allergies worsen over time, affect one or both eyes, and last for a longer time while irritations come and go fast.
Watch out for swelling, itching, burning, stinging, and headaches that come with lash allergies. They are often a result of allergic ingredients like cyanoacrylate, carbon black, lead, and benzoic acid found in lash glue and related equipment.
If you want to be completely safe, go for cruelty-free synthetic lash extensions instead of natural fibers from real mink fur. We don’t offer treatments with natural lashes at Divine Lashes.
Look into latex allergies for those suddenly experiencing allergies after wearing extensions for a long time. Remember to always go for a licensed tech to keep your exposure to allergens low.
As a side note, keep in mind that you don’t get allergies from formaldehyde in adhesives. However, formaldehyde fumes can enter the eye to cause a chemical burn and consequently cause irritations.
While it disappears quickly, this is why I always tell my lash clients to keep their eyes closed. Most lash techs use nano misters or increase ventilation to avoid irritating formaldehyde fumes.
All that said, lash allergies are quite rare, unlike irritations.
Is anything else troubling you about lash allergies? Feel free to let me know in the comments below, and I’ll respond to you as soon as I see it.
Additional Readings on DivineLashes.ca: If you want to know more about possible issues that might arise from lash extensions and how to solve them, make sure to read my article on red eyes after eyelash extensions and why eyelash extensions can ruin natural eyelashes when the stylist’s application technique is deficient.
- Jenna Fletcher (2020). How to recognize an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/allergic-reaction-to-eyelash-extensions (Accessed on 16 February 2022)