You just got your first set of lash extensions, and now you notice that your eyes are red. Never fear! Here are some things to try (and not try) to get rid of those lovely bloodshot red eyes after eyelash extensions.
Why do people get bloodshot eyes from lash extensions? how do you get rid of chemical pink eye from eyelash extensions?
As a lash tech I get asked these questions a lot, so I decide to write a complete guide about it.
In this article, I’ll talk about the 7 most likely reasons why eyelash extension wearers get red eyes, how long it lasts, and the treatments available.
Ready? Read on!
What Are Bloodshot Eyes And What Do They Look Like?
A bloodshot eye is a condition where the white part of the eye, also called the sclera, has become reddened or “bloodshot.” It’s the result of a broken vessel (blood vessel) on the eye itself. The bloodshot look is a collection of tiny hemorrhages under the conjunctiva, which is the clear membrane that covers the white part of the eyeball and lines the inside of your eyelid.
The symptoms of a bloodshot eye from eyelash extensions may include:
- A gritty feeling in your eye
- Soreness and/or swelling around your eyes
Keep reading because I’ll discuss the 7 most likely reasons why you may experience red eyes after your lash appointment.
I’ll also share a handy table that will help you differentiate between the two most common causes: a sensitivity to the formaldehyde adhesive fumes (a.k.a. chemical burn or chemical pink eye) and an allergic reaction.
What Causes Bloodshot Eyes After Eyelash Extension Treatments?
Bloodshot eyes after eyelash extensions are most often caused by a sensitivity to formaldehyde adhesive fumes or an allergic reaction. Red eyes from a sensitivity typically disappear within 2 to 3 days with eye drops while an allergic reaction would require the removal of the lash extensions.
There are 7 possible reasons why your eyes are red, sore, or irritated from lash extensions:
1- Chemical Burn
Eyelash extensions are applied with an adhesive that is typically made of cyanoacrylate. Cyanoacrylate-based adhesives release formaldehyde as a by-product of the curing process.
Some clients react more strongly than others to formaldehyde which may cause this redness in the eyes. Moreover, when the adhesive cures, it draws out ambient moisture and therefore dries out the eye if it is opened.
Another cause of a chemical burn is when the lash glue enters the eye during a lash session. You may feel pain, irritation, stinging, or a tearing sensation in your eyes in case it happens to you. It’s common in clients with incredibly round eye shapes that are naturally hard to shut.
Unlike an allergy, a chemical burn isn’t accompanied by swelling.
At Divine Lashes, we always double-check whether the eyes are sealed before starting the treatment. I also advise clients to wait at least five minutes after the treatment before asking them to open their eyes.
That’s why I usually recommend lash techs avoid chatting with the client during crucial stages of the treatment, as it’s common for clients to open their eyes inadvertently while talking.
2- Allergic Reaction
An allergic reaction to lash glue also presents with bloodshot eyes in some clients. It’s not anyone’s fault, as allergies can differ from person to person.
Swelling can occur when there is an infection or an allergic reaction to the adhesive used for lash extensions.
If you notice any signs of swelling or soreness around your eyes after getting eyelash extensions, ask your lash stylist to remove the lash extensions and contact a doctor immediately.
I have written an entire article on the different lash extension adhesives and their various ingredients here. Understanding their composition is important when addressing an allergic reaction to lash adhesives.
3- Poor Application and Use of Lash Extension Equipment
Undoubtedly, an unlicensed or inexperienced lash tech ends up making a lot of mistakes along the way.
More often than not, clients get red eyes after a lash session due to the following:
- Tweezers poking into the eyes.
- Gel pads that are thrust into the eye due to poor placement.
- Medical tape touching the waterline.
- Cracked pads that break the seal necessary to shut the eyes.
- Tape placement that’s higher than usual.
- Using cheap lash extension products.
- Corneal abrasions caused by lash extensions scratching the eyes. It gets worse upon blinking as it’s usually a result of using the wrong length, curl, or thickness of lash extensions.
4- Poor Hygiene Of The Lash Tech
Yet another damaging consequence of getting your lashes done from an unlicensed lash tech is infections due to poor hygiene.
Just as you wouldn’t get surgery from an unlicensed doctor, the qualification of the lash artist matters a lot when it comes to working on a sensitive organ like the eye. In many cases of infections, poor hygiene of the lash artist spread them like wildfire among clients.
For starters, the lack of disinfection of lash equipment between clients can also lead to bloodshot eyes. It can happen due to bacteria being exposed to your eye because of being stuck beneath the glue.
5- Poor Aftercare On The Client’s End
If the bloodshot eyes appeared a few days after getting your eyelash extensions, it could be a sign of inadequate maintenance.
Poor aftercare can lead to allergic blepharitis. It’s when the skin around your eyes sheds more than usual with a symptom of bloodshot eyes with reddish skin around it.
6- Hypersensitive Eyes
Another common cause of bloodshot eyes is hypersensitivity in the eye. Some clients are genetically predisposed to extreme sensitivity to chemicals or equipment used for lash treatment.
As a result, they may get deep red eyes immediately after a long session of lash treatment. An added symptom may be reddened skin where the tape touched the skin. In such a case, the red eyes will also fade away soon with topical treatments.
7- Contact Lens Acute Red Eye
Another thing I ask people who come in for a session with contact lenses is to remove them before the treatment. Why? Wearing contact lenses can cause bloodshot eyes after the treatment if they wear them throughout the treatment session.
Technically called CLARE or Contact Lens Acute Red Eye, this can make your eyes red when you keep them closed for long durations while wearing the lens. Other signs of CLARE to watch out for are redness, pain, and sensitivity to light.
Read more on ‘can you wear contacts with lash extensions‘ next.
Chemical Burn vs Allergic Reaction
It is important to distinguish between a reaction to the adhesive fume (chemical burn) and an allergic reaction because these are the most likely culprits in the vast majority of cases. The cause and appropriate response will be different in both cases.
Both lash artists and clients must rapidely recognize what they’re dealing with in order to have an appropriate reaction.
Below is a table summarizing the key differences between a chemical burn and an allergic reaction from eyelash extensions.
|Chemical Burn vs Allergic Reaction||Symptoms||Cause||Timeline||Treatment|
|Chemical Burn||Red or bloodshot eyes, irritation, dryness.||Sensitivity to formaldehyde, lash adhesive penetrating the eye.||Immediate reaction. Start feeling better within a few hours. Typically resolved in 1-2 days.||Bring back moisture to the eye.|
|Allergic Reaction||Eyelids swelling, red or bloodshot eyes, soreness, itchiness, and tearing.||Individual reaction to an irritant (most often the lash adhesive).||Reaction within 24 hours. Gets worst over time.||Removal of the eyelash extensions. Seek medical help.|
I’ve also made a Youtube video highlighting the differences between both with actual pictures from clients that had adverse reactions. Check it out!
How Long Do Bloodshot Eyes Last?
Bloodshot eyes may last a day, others up to two or even four days.
The length of bloodshot eyes lasts depending on the cause. For instance, red eyes may disappear within a day if it’s caused by a poking gel pad or hypersensitivity. At the same time, a severe lash allergy may take longer.
Suppose your red eyes haven’t disappeared even after a day. In that case, it’s wise to remove the lash extensions as that may stop what caused the red eyes in the first place. You might also be advised to go to an optometrist by your lash artist in such a case.
How To Treat Red Eyes After Eyelash Extensions
In most cases where your eyes become red from irritations or a chemical burn the symptoms resolve within a couple of days with home remedies.
I’ll list the things that typically work for red eyes below.
- Eye drops: Go for eye drops as it’s a great tool to ease short-term reactions. Check out our post on using eye drops with lash extensions.
- Cold and warm compress: Applying a cold or warm ice pack for ten minutes is an excellent way to relieve the symptoms of red eyes.
- Oral antihistamines: An OTC histamine tablet may quickly relieve symptoms when you have an allergic reaction.
- Hydrocortisone cream: Topical ointments like hydrocortisone are great for bringing down inflammation that accompanies red eyes.
- Teabags: Besides soothing the discomforts that appear with bloodshot eyes, teabags can also help you cope with eye pain.
- Benadryl: Whether you have hypersensitive eyes or a reaction to lash adhesive fumes, Benadryl can ease the red eyes, irritations, and swelling.
- Witch Hazel: This is an excellent home remedy to reduce constrictions around the blood vessels of your eye. You can apply it using lint-free cotton.
How to Avoid Bloodshot Eyes From Lash Extensions
Regardless of red eyes or hypersensitivity, the first thing to do is tell the lash tech working on your eyes about your discomfort. Moreover, it’s essential to communicate at the right time if your gel pad is touching the water line or your eyes aren’t closed properly.
You can also ask for an allergy patch test if you’re hypersensitive and the lash tech hasn’t done it already. They might switch to a special glue for sensitive eyes when you do. Some lash artists may even increase the ventilation in the studio or use nano mister proactively.
If you’re my client, I’ll go ahead and cleanse the eyes with a saline solution instead of the lash primer before applying lash extensions to combat irritations for hypersensitive clients.
Why is the bottom half of my eyes red and sore after eyelash extensions?
An allergic reaction, a chemical burn, or a bad placement of the eye pad to tape the bottom lashes are all possible causes. If the redness is accompanied by swollen eyelids, that may indicate an allergic reaction.
Is it normal to have red eyes after lash extensions?
Absolutely not! Most clients never experience this discomfort. Most chemical burns can be avoided by keeping the eyes closed during the appointment, using sensitive glue, and having a proper eye pad placement. However, sensitivity to the fumes is no one’s fault and does happen.
Why do my eyes burn with eyelash extensions?
The burning sensation may be the result of a chemical burn caused by exposure to fumes released by the lash adhesive used to affix an extension to a natural lash.
Bloodshot eyes happen due to things ranging from formaldehyde fumes to contact lenses, poor hygiene, inadequate aftercare, hypersensitivity, poor application, or even an allergic reaction to the lash adhesive.
Both lash stylists and clients must recognize what caused red eyes after eyelash extensions to properly plan the next steps.
As I have explained in this article, the most likely cause is a sensitivity to the formaldehyde fumes released during the curing process of the lash adhesive.
If this is the case, the client will start feeling better within a few hours by bringing moisture to the eye.
However, if your red eyes appear with swelling or pain or don’t fade away in a day or two, it’s crucial to see an oculist ASAP and remove the lash extensions. Swelling is generally associated with an allergic reaction.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to drop me a comment below!
– Asako 🙂
Further Readings on DivineLashes.ca: If you want to know more about what could go wrong with lash extensions, check out my guide on allergic reactions to eyelash extensions and how a poor application technique may cause eyelash extensions to ruin eyelashes. Also, having a good understanding of lash glue ingredients is vital.
- Modern Eye Care (2018). Scratched Cornea? Retrieved from https://www.moderneye.com/scratched-cornea/ (Accessed on 20 February 2021)
- Dr. Keith Lang (2017). What is Blepharitis? Retrieved from https://www.liangvision.com/950-2/ (Accessed on 20 February 2021)
- Slade Baker Vision Center (2012). Why You Should NOT Sleep In Your Contact Lenses. Retrieved from https://www.visiontexas.com/general/not-sleep-contact-lenses/ (Accessed on 20 February 2021)
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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.