Consumer 411 on Eyelash Extensions

Blink and you’ll miss it. For plenty of beauty trends, that’s an all-too-fitting quip. But when it comes to one trend in particular, the whole point is to make certain no one misses it when you blink. And it’s a trend that looks to have some longevity.

Eyelash extensions continue to grow in popularity. With more than 100 million American women estimated to be using mascara every year, the appeal is obvious. Eyelash extensions are designed to eliminate the need for mascara. In fact, people who get eyelash extensions are generally urged not to apply mascara to them.

But before you get eyelash extensions, there are some things you need to know about them, and who should be applying them.

“Only California licensed estheticians and cosmetologists should be applying lashes,” said Kristy Underwood, Executive Officer of the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology.  “Consumers should make sure their service provider is licensed by the board, and their license is posted in the licensee’s primary work station.”

The reason it’s so important that consumers only trust a licensed cosmetologist or esthetician has a lot to do with how they are applied. Unlike more traditional false eyelashes, eyelash extensions are glued directly to the eyelashes themselves. And unlike false eyelashes, the glue used for false eyelash extensions is designed to be long lasting. So, while you remove a false eyelash affixed to the skin of your eyelid at the end of the day, an eyelash extension will remain in place until your eyelash itself falls out-usually in 6 to 8 weeks.

That semi-permanent glue is one reason eyelash extensions must be applied carefully and professionally. A licensed cosmetologist or esthetician will know what kind of glue to use, and how to use it properly. Even in ideal conditions, a consumer can have an allergic reaction to the glue used for eyelash extensions.

The tools used to apply the glue and each extension resemble broad, metal tweezers. Your best bet for preventing that tool from nicking your eye or eyelid is to make certain a licensed professional is using it. Even so, mistakes can happen. A licensed professional will also follow the state protocols for sterilizing their tools and the other products they use, which diminishes the risk of infection.

If you do opt for eyelash extensions, be prepared to spend some time in the chair. A full application takes between 90 and 120 minutes. Afterward, you’ll have to avoid water, even heavy sweat, for 24 hours to give the glue time to set. If you develop symptoms afterwards like swelling, redness, a sty, dry eye or any other signs of infection or allergic reaction, go see your optometrist or other licensed eye care professional. You’ll likely do more harm, perhaps even permanently damaging the eyelash follicle, if you try to remove eyelash extensions on your own.

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