You’ll likely have an allergic reaction to something you breathe in, eat, or touch at some point in your life. It could be dog fur, perfume, or peanuts. Or it could be a beauty product or procedure like a lash lift.
Some allergic reactions are nothing to worry about, and some can be serious. So you need to know what symptoms to watch out for and what to do if it happens to you.
So, can a lash lift cause an allergic reaction?
Lash lifts can trigger allergic reactions in some people. Your body could react badly to the adhesive or chemical solutions used during a lift or to the dye used during a lift and tint. You’re at higher risk for an allergic reaction if you have a history of allergies or sensitive skin or eyes.
No beauty procedure is worth risking your well-being (even if it gives you the most fluttery lifted lashes for weeks!), so I’ll share warnings about lash lift allergic reactions to keep you safe.
Before we start, know there’s no need to panic about a potential allergic reaction. Millions of professional lash-enhancing procedures are done yearly with nothing but good results.1 Still, it helps to be prepared if things don’t turn out well. Okay, breathe in deeply, breathe out; let’s start.
Can a Lash Lift Give You an Allergic Reaction?
Allergic reactions to lash lifts aren’t the norm, but your body could freak out after a lash lift. It might not like 1 of 4 substances applied to your lashes during the procedure:
- #1: Glue to stick your lashes to a silicone shield that gives them a curled shape.
- #2: Softening solution to let your lashes be lifted at the root and reshaped into a curl.
- #3: Setting solution to fix your lashes’ new lifted, curled shape.
- #4: Lash dye to darken your lashes (assuming you have a lash lift and tint).
Your body can show annoyance at being exposed to these substances through an eye or skin irritation or, if it’s really angry, through an allergic reaction.
These reactions share symptoms but affect the body and are treated differently, so your first step is figuring out if you’re experiencing irritation or allergy.
How to Tell if You’re Experiencing an Irritation or Allergy
Both irritations and allergies can result in redness, swelling, itchiness, and a rash, but there are ways to tell these reactions apart.
You’re likely experiencing irritation if:2
- Your symptoms come on quickly.
- You get symptoms the first time you get a lash lift.
- Your symptoms get worse quickly, then start to get better.
- Your rash (if you get one) occurs only where the substance was applied.
- You feel a stinging sensation, and your skin is very tender.
You’re likely experiencing an allergy if:3
- Your symptoms start within a day or two after exposure to the substance, or even several days later.
- Your symptoms occur after you’ve had more than one lash lift.
- Your symptoms get worse with time.
- Your rash (if you get one) isn’t limited to the area where the substance was applied.
- You experience intense itchiness.
So, you’re probably dealing with an allergy if you’re itching like crazy and your symptoms started a while after your lash lift and aren’t getting better.
Fast fact: Irritations are more common than allergies. They’re a reaction triggered by irritated skin. On the flip side, allergies are caused by the immune system.4
Let’s recap possible symptoms.
Everyone’s body shows it’s experiencing an allergic reaction in its unique way, but common warning signs include:5,6
- Stinging or itching
- Puffy eyes
- Flaking skin
- Dry or watery eyes
It’s rare, but people can experience a more complex immune response that triggers hives (raised itchy welts) and, even more rarely, anaphylaxis (closing airways).
Who Is At Risk For A Lash Lift Allergic Reaction?
Anyone could be allergic to a lash lift (or any other beauty procedure that uses chemicals – even a facial.)
Your risk of a bad reaction rises if:
- Allergies run in your family.
- You’ve had an allergic reaction before.
- You have sensitive skin or eyes.
How to Treat A Lash Lift Allergic Reaction
You want to take extra-special care with your eyes, so get yourself checked out by a doctor if you have an allergic reaction to a lash lift.
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might prescribe a cream to control inflammation and itching, oral steroids to calm a raging rash, or immunosuppressive medications (if the reaction is serious).7
Get emergency medical care if you experience anaphylaxis symptoms, such as hives, low blood pressure, swollen tongue or throat, difficulty breathing, wheezing, rapid pulse, dizziness or fainting, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Anaphylaxis is potentially life-threatening, so take these symptoms seriously.8
How To Prevent A Lash Lift Allergic Reaction
There’s a way to find out if your body tolerates the lash lift glue and solutions before they’re applied to your lashes: by having a patch test.
I’ll break down a patch test into 3 steps:
- Step #1: Apply a small amount of the substances used during lash lifts behind your ear or on your arm.
- Step #2: Leave the substances on your skin for 24 to 48 hours (most allergic reactions start to show themselves within this time).
- Step #3: Check how your body handles the substances.
If your body reacts badly to the substances (let’s say the test area becomes red and itchy), this is a warning that a lash lift doesn’t agree with your body. Suppose your skin looks just the same after 48 hours. You likely won’t break out in itchy red puffiness after your lash lift. Schedule your sesh; you’re good to go!
Alert: It’s safest to have your lash lift done by a certified lash tech. Lash pros will ask screening questions and do a patch test if necessary to keep you out of harm’s way. Plus, reputable salons use only high-quality products less likely to cause bad reactions than some of the products you’ll get in cheap at-home kits.
Allergies are curious. For some reason, your body might see lash lift glue or solutions as a threat and develop symptoms like angry red skin, swelling, or an incredible itch. Then again, you could experience zero side effects after your procedure.
If you suspect you might react badly to a lash lift, ask your tech to do a patch test before you have your lashes done. This test will delay your long-lasting lifted lashes for a day or 2, but it’s a safety must-do, especially if you have sensitive skin or eyes or a history of allergies.
- Maliha Masud (2019). Eyelid Cosmetic Enhancements and Their Associated Ocular Adverse Effects. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6592309/ (Accessed on 4 August 2022)
- Liji Thomas, MD – reviewed by Afsaneh Khetrapal, BSc (2019). Irritant vs Allergic Contact Dermatitis. Retrieved from https://www.news-medical.net/health/Irritant-vs-Allergic-Contact-Dermatitis.aspx (Accessed on 4 August 2022)
- See reference 2
- See reference 2
- Mary Anne Dunkin – medically reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD (2020). Chemical Allergies: Shampoo, Cleaners, and More. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/allergies/chemical-allergies (Accessed on 4 August 2022)
- Kristeen Cherney (Medically reviewed by Catherine Hannan, MD (2018). Lash Lifts And Your Skin, Healthline. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/lash-lift-side-effects (Accessed on 4 August 2022).
- Cleveland Clinic (2019). Contact Dermatitis. Retrieved from https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/6173-contact-dermatitis (Accessed on 4 August 2022)
- Mayo Clinic Staff (2021). Anaphylaxis. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anaphylaxis/symptoms-causes/syc-20351468 (Accessed on 4 August 2022)