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A leading eye doctor reveals the surprising reason why you shouldn’t wear false eyelashes

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Eyelash extensions can cause infections, allergies and loss of natural eyelashes, experts say. Improper care can also lead to an infestation of small parasitic insects.

Haley Dean, a hairstylist and mom from Nashville, said for years that getting eyelash extensions made her feel “very pretty.”

That was until his eyes became swollen, red, and itchy and his entire face began to swell.

Panicking, she rushed to urgent care and discovered that she had developed an allergy to her false eyelashes and that they needed to remove them immediately or risk making her eyes swollen, she explained on TikTok.

And she’s far from the only one, according to Dr. Will Flanary, an Oregon-based ophthalmologist. In a post on X, Dr. Flanary said these popular beauty treatments “look horrible” when patients come in complaining of eye pain and discomfort.

She added that false eyelashes “often cause red, itchy, swollen and irritated eyelids.” The ophthalmologist called them “a sebaceous swamp,” referring to the dirt and grease that accumulates under false eyelashes, becoming the perfect breeding ground for infections.

Eyelash extensions can cause infections, allergies and loss of natural eyelashes, experts say. Improper care can also lead to an infestation of small parasitic insects.

In addition to long eyelashes collecting and harboring germs and bacteria, the glue used to adhere them to the eyelid often contains irritating chemicals and can cause natural eyelashes to fall out.

It can also cause skin-dwelling mite populations to grow rapidly, Dr. Ashley Brissette, assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medicine and founder of Daily Practice, told Daily Mail.com.

When your eyelashes are clean, these mites are relatively rare. But they like to feed on bacteria, and when you give them more to eat, their numbers can explode, wreaking havoc on your eyelashes and leaving waxy deposits in your hair follicle.

And complications can arise no matter how clean and professional the application is, because lashes often create an unhygienic buildup around the eye that is a “breeding ground for bacteria,” leading to mite infestations. Dr. Carly Rosaan Ohio-based optometrist said on TikTok.

Despite these warnings, the eyelash extension market is booming. It was valued at $1.4 billion in 2020 and is expected to rise to $2.3 billion in 2028, according to Verified market research.

Eyelash extensions are tiny hair-like fibers that estheticians place under, between, or on top of the natural lash line using glue to create long, luscious lashes.

Eyelashes can be synthetic, silk or mink and are applied for purely cosmetic purposes. Application and touch-ups can cost between $75 and $300.

Dr. Will Flanary, a trained ophthalmologist, also makes online comedy videos under the character name Dr. Glaucomflecken.

Dr. Will Flanary, a trained ophthalmologist, also makes online comedy videos under the character name Dr. Glaucomflecken.

They should ideally last six to eight weeks and can fall off naturally on their own or be removed with a cleaner that breaks down the adhesive.

The technique, type of glue, and length of the extension vary depending on the esthetician you visit, but extensions can be used to create a natural look or a more edgy style.

Many technicians use a glue that contains formaldehyde, Dr. Rose said, which can be toxic, especially if you are exposed to it frequently.

Seventy-five percent of professional eyelash glues tested by University of Minnesota researchers in 2022 It contained formaldehyde, even though none of them included it on their label.

Formaldehyde is added to products to help preserve their shelf life or make them more adhesive, but it is most commonly used to preserve dead bodies.

At high concentrations, it impairs cellular function and can cause shortness of breath, headache, and skin irritation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Even if the glue does not contain formaldehyde, users may develop an allergy to any adhesive or to the eyelashes themselves. This can cause irritation, swelling, and in extreme cases, can damage vision.

Additionally, Dr. Brissette told this website that the weight of the extensions can pull and irritate natural eyelashes, which can cause them to break or fall out. Over time, patients can rehabilitate their eyelashes back to health, but it can take months and is an intensive process.

It involves avoiding eye products and periodically cleaning the area. If you had a more serious problem, such as a mite infestation, you may also need a prescription medication to restore your skin’s health.

The Arkansas patient (pictured) in the case study who suffered a Demodex infestation from not cleaning her eyelashes properly.

The Arkansas patient (pictured) in the case study who suffered a Demodex infestation from not cleaning her eyelashes properly.

Additionally, placing these foreign objects on the lash line interferes with the crucial oil glands that lubricate the eye and skin, and can cause dryness and irritation of the eyes.

This is part of the reason why it’s almost impossible to thoroughly clean extensions, because the oil that would naturally move around the area can build up at the base of the lashes, along with dirt and dead skin.

This buildup is an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, Dr. Rose said. If your eyes were not already irritated, some of these bacteria release chemicals that inflame and irritate the eyes.

This can attract small parasitic insects, called Demodex, which naturally live on the skin. These eight-legged worm-like insects like to feed on the bacteria around the eyelashes, so when a buildup occurs, their populations can multiply.

When they multiply, they begin to deposit debris on the eyelashes, sometimes destabilizing the eyelash itself,

This scenario was documented in a case study in Arkansas, after a 32-year-old woman visited her ophthalmologist complaining of itchy, watery eyes and blurred vision.

Looking under the microscope, Optometrist Dr. Jade Coats I saw a thick, waxy buildup at the base of the patient’s eyelashes.

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Dr. coats discovered that the patient, who had been avoiding cleaning her eyelashes, had developed a Demodex infestation, which had caused her symptoms.

She wrote that the “vast majority of patients” who have extensions that are not removed properly develop some degree of this problem.

Dr. Brissette summarized all the problems with false eyelashes by explaining that extensions interfere with the functioning of the eye.

Eyelashes are designed in a very specific way to promote vision and keep foreign objects out of the eyes.

‘I believe that our eyes, eyelids and eyelashes have a specific function. “I think you can enhance them a little bit naturally with mascara,” Dr. Brissette said, “but the thing to watch out for is going overboard.”

Adding extensions that are too long can change the way you blink, causing dry, irritated eyes.

If you’re still curious about eyelash extensions, Dr. Brissette said it’s okay to wear them once for special occasions, like a wedding or a vacation, but putting on lashes regularly is usually a bad idea.

If you have them, she recommends cleaning your lashes twice, first using an eye makeup remover and gently rubbing the lashes, and second, washing them with a gentle facial cleanser.

Doing this daily, even if you don’t have false eyelashes, will help your eyes look brighter and feel better, Dr. Brissette said.

He added: “Whenever patients ask me, ‘Well, you know, is it safe to do this or can I try it?'” My advice is always, you know, nothing is black and white, but I would never recommend that someone do this continually. .’

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