Eyelash extensions can really take your beauty look to the next level, but getting a set does come with some risks. Before making that first appointment, it’s important to make an informed decision. Not only should you know about any health risks, but if you decide to go ahead with extensions, be sure to educate yourself about the process. Our Expert Advice articles are a great resource.

Potential Health Affects

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), risks associated with the use of eyelash extensions include infection of the cornea, infection of the eyelid, swollen eyelids, and temporary or permanent loss of eyelashes. Allergic reaction to any of the products used to apply extensions (lash adhesive and solvents, primarily) can also occur.

If you have an allergic reaction of any kind to a new set of eyelash extensions, the AAO cautions against removing the extensions on your own or attempting to treat the reaction yourself. Seek medical attention from an ophthalmologist immediately.

Getting New Lashes? Ask These Basic Questions

Have you decided to take the plunge? Here are some basic precautions that you should take before getting your first set of lash extensions:

  • Research the salon: Read reviews. Find out if the salon has had any health violations. Visit the salon in person so that you can check out the space and be sure that it’s clean. Hygiene is very important.
  • Research the aesthetician or lash artist: Make sure that you seek out reviews of the specific lash artist performing your service. Are they certified? Proper training and experience are just as crucial to your eye safety as hygiene.
  • Inquire about the products used to apply your extensions: Prior to your service, ask to see the products that will be used in your service. Does the lash glue contain formaldehyde? (This is a toxin that can seep into your eyes and cause adverse reactions.) Check the expiration date of the adhesive. The AAO suggests that you ask for a spot test of the adhesive on your wrist before it’s used on your eyes.

Different Types Of Lash Extension Material

When you show up to your appointment, one of the first decisions you’ll be asked to make is the type of extensions you want. It makes sense to consider the options before your appointment. Eyelash extensions come in both natural and man-made materials, and they each vary by weight and feel.

In general, you may be a natural products kind of girl – partial to cotton, linen, wool or silk for your clothing, for example. The decision about natural vs. man-made materials is not as easy as choosing between the wool and the polyester cardigan, however. Because your eyes and the skin that surrounds them is particularly sensitive, you need to be extra careful about the products used in the eye area.

There is only one natural material available for lash extensions, and that’s animal fur. Mink is the most popular fur in use, but sable and fox fur are also available. You may have heard of silk lashes, but they’re actually made of synthetic silk.

If you have any kind of animal allergy, the animal fur choices are probably not going to be right for you. Wearing lashes made of animal fur can cause an uncomfortable allergic reaction. For those with ethical concerns about the treatment of minks, the faux mink or silk materials are probably a better option.

Here’s some information about the different materials to help you make your choice:

Natural Mink vs. Faux Mink Lashes

  • Mink: By far the most popular natural eyelash extension material. Mink is super lightweight, fluffy, and it mimics the look of your own lashes. If you’re new to lash extensions and you’re partial to a subtler look, mink can be a good choice. Just be aware: Like fur coats, fur lashes come with luxury price tags. You’ll pay up to $500 for a set. There’s also some upkeep involved with mink lashes. Unlike the faux mink and other synthetic alternatives, mink lashes will not maintain a curl. You’ll need to periodically re-curl them yourself.
  • Faux Mink: A man-made alternative to real mink, with a similar lightweight feel. Faux mink is a better choice for those with allergies or ethical aversions to fur. Don’t want to spend the money for real mink, but covet the look? Faux mink is definitely more budget-friendly. You’ll spend $150 to $350 for faux mink lashes, depending on the type of salon, location, lash artist, and the number and style of lashes you choose.

Silk Lashes

  • Silk: Lash extensions made of silk are the heaviest and most rigid. Their thickness and luster really pop and stand out, so silk lashes are commonly used for weddings and special occasions. They’re also the least comfortable extensions available. Pricing is similar to faux mink lashes.

How Long do Lash Extensions Last?

A typical set of lash extensions will last from 2-4 weeks. You don’t need to have them removed. Extensions fall out naturally along with the lash they are attached to. If you like the way they look and want to keep them, you can get a fill to add more lashes. This service generally costs about half of what you paid for a full set of extensions. 

Maintaining Healthy Eyelashes

Long-term use of extensions can damage the hair follicles of your eyelashes. Because the application of extensions involves some tugging and tension, it can weaken or break your lashes. You may want to consider taking periodic breaks from extensions to maintain healthy lashes. You can also use a serum like BeautyGARDE’s damage control lash & brow fortifier.

Want to learn more? Don't miss our articles Eyelash Extension Care and Maintenance - What You Need to Know and How Long Do Eyelash Extensions Last that drill down deeper to offer tips to protect your lashes so they last longer.