How Safe are Your Eyelash Extensions?

Some say fake lash extensions could cause painful damage

ByABC News
February 11, 2015, 12:38 PM

— -- Kim Kardashian, Beyonce and Jennifer Lopez are stars all known for their luscious eyelashes and women from coast-to-coast go to extremes to get that same long-lash look.

The quest for beauty -- which, in this case, involves individually gluing single synthetic lashes to each natural lash -- can sometimes, however, turn ugly.

Natasha Pieper is a Houston woman who had eyelash extensions applied last year. After four applications, Pieper says she had a bad reaction.

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"My eyes were swollen up to my eyebrows and then my eyes were completely bloodshot, just lots of burning," Pieper told ABC News.

Anthony Aldave, an ophthalmologist, says eyelash extension wearers with symptoms like Pieper's should visit their doctor.

"Symptoms that last for more than a day, anything associated with pain in the eyes or decreased vision should prompt a visit to an eye care professional," said Aldave, also an associate professor of ophthalmology at UCLA.

Pieper believes the culprit of her bad reaction was the glue used. Some experts say that the formaldehyde contained in glues used by some salons can cause allergic reactions, like the one Pieper suffered.

The Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions told ABC News in a statement that, "properly applied eyelash extensions are not dangerous." The organization also said that the,"adhesive should not contain formaldehyde," and that "hypoallergenic adhesives are available" for use.

The owner and founder of Makeup Mandy, an eyelash bar in Los Angeles, says that her salon sees two to three customers per week asking them to fix bad eyelash extensions they got elsewhere.

"We have a lot of people that do come in with horror stories," said Amanda Jacobellis. "They went to the place that was the bargain and their lashes are all stuck together, way too much adhesives used."

Jacobellis added there are three things people interested in getting eyelash extensions should ask about in advance.

"I would ask that they're certified and licensed. I would ask about the products they're using," she said. "Ask for pictures. It should look like a single hair per lash."