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 them so that you can be safe.
Ready? Read on!
What Is an Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions?
An allergy to eyelash extensions occurs when the immune system reacts to foreign bodies called allergens. In most cases, it is caused by the lash glue used to apply the extensions to the natural eyelashes. The most frequent symptoms will be redness of the eye, swollen eyelids, and itchiness.
Lash allergies often occur, with several symptoms occurring all at once. While it can differ based on the biology of the extension wearer and the chemistry of the allergen, the following signs are the most common. They will help you narrow down an eyelash allergy.
- Watery eyes
- Runny nose
Having said that, it’s important to make a distinction between an allergic reaction and an irritation. The former is severe and lasts a long time, while the latter is simply a discomfort that often disappears quickly.
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.|
To help you identify an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions, I thought it would be great to share some pictures of unfortunate clients who had to go through it.
For both of these clients, I immediately removed the extensions (free of charge of course), suggested ways to reduce symptoms at home (cold compress), and advised them to seek medical advice. Thankfully, they both got better quickly.
The first client had her lashes done at another salon but came to see me to get them removed when she first started having symptoms. The second client is a client of mine that had been wearing extensions regularly for a long time before it suddenly happened. This just shows that it can happen to anyone and is quite unpredictable.
What Causes an Allergic Reaction to Lash Extensions?
The #1 reason for lash extension allergies is a reaction to the lash glue. Formaldehyde fumes are released during the curing process of the lash adhesives and can trigger an allergic reaction.
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, they aren’t anyone’s fault, unlike lash irritations.
While lash allergies are rare, most arise from lash adhesives.
So, people who are allergic to eyelash extension glue or any of its ingredients may often see symptoms like redness, swelling, puffiness, and itchiness around their eyes. Moreover, cyanoacrylate reactions 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 problematic 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.
Lastly, some allergies can be triggered by 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.
Why Am I Suddenly Allergic to Eyelash Extensions?
For most people, the allergic reaction is developed over time from regular exposure to allergens. It just happens that one day, the body had enough and starts overreacting.
For others, some questions to ask are: Did you get a new lash tech? Perhaps you went for a cheap option or an unlicensed lash tech?
The lack of experience from the technician might’ve made extension treatment unhygienic. Using cheap products is also a significant cause of allergies. Some 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 reactions.
Sudden allergies also coincide with new lash products or styles. So, have you been getting any new styles done?
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 sensitive at first.
Will an Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions Go Away?
An allergic reaction won’t stop until you stop the cause altogether. That’s why you need to eliminate the allergen first, preferably by lash extension removal.
Additionally, once you’re allergic, you’ll likely be for the rest of your life.
So, 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 and when the allergen is removed. On the flip side, lash irritations fade away quickly.
If you have a lash reaction, 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.
How to Treat an Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions?
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.
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 to have an anti-allergy gel pot opened during the lash appointment. This product absorbs the fumes that are produced by the lash glue.
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 to the lash tech, they might’ve options for you regarding lash adhesives with lesser cyanoacrylates.
At Divine Lashes, we often do a 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.
Can I still get lash extensions if I’m allergic?
Unfortunately, you can’t. If you had one allergic reaction to lash extensions, it means you’ll likely react for the rest of your life.
Why do I have only one eyelid swollen after eyelash extensions?
If only one eyelid is swollen and not the other, it might indicate that some fumes from the lash glue penetrated that eye only. However, most allergic reactions present themselves on both eyes at the same time.
How do you stop being allergic to eyelash extensions?
You can’t stop being allergic to lash extensions. Once you’ve reacted, you’ll likely be allergic in the future.
Now you know why lash allergies are a different topic from lash irritations. The first one worsens over time and lasts for a longer time while the second one comes and goes 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.
To reduce your risk, 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 discomfort after wearing extensions for a long time. Remember to always go for a licensed tech to keep your exposure to allergens low.
If you have any questions, feel free to let me know in the comments below, and I’ll respond to you as soon as I see it.
– Asako 🙂
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)
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Asako Ito is the Co-Founder of Divine Lashes and a certified eyelash stylist. She has garnered acclaim for her cutting-edge techniques in the lash industry.
Holding multiple certifications and licenses, including Luxury Eye, THE LASH SHOP, World Microblading, and The Lash Bible, she has a constant thirst for knowledge. These credentials reflect her commitment to excellence and staying at the forefront of lash and brow artistry.
With over 10 years of experience, Asako continuously increases her knowledge both as a technician and educator by collaborating with top lash artists worldwide. You can read her full bio here.