Oh, the flutter and fanfare of a fabulous fringe of flirtatious lashes framing your eyes! No matter if we’re in the era of minimalist (“less is more”) or maximalist (“more is more”) makeup, the mega eyelash has held steady for the last several years. Rebecca Taylor, MD, a Nashville-based spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) chimes in with info on how to safely get lush lashes, whether homegrown or store-bought.
There are several options for growing lashes, available under various brand names. The only FDA-approved product is called Latisse; its active ingredient is bimatoprost and it’s available by prescription only, used originally as a glaucoma drug. The side effects include lengthening and thickening of eyelashes—but there are some undesirable ones, as well, such as darkening of the skin around the eyes, eye irritation and itching, dry-eye symptoms, eyelid redness and even darkening of the iris (from blue to brown, for example). “If you have an eye condition such as glaucoma, macular edema or eye inflammation, consult with your ophthalmologist before using Latisse. It’s not a good option for everyone, including pregnant or lactating women or anyone about to undergo a cataract procedure,” Dr. Taylor says.
“Be prepared and do your research before getting eyelash extensions,” explains Dr. Taylor, adding that application involves a sharp object and glue around your eyes; trauma to and infection of the eyelid or the cornea is a definite possibility. “Some people have experienced permanent or temporary eyelash loss or had allergic reactions to the glues. Many adhesives contain formaldehyde, and there are reports of technicians using wildly inappropriate glue, such as nail glue, Gorilla Glue, hair glue, even super glue.”
The AAO.org has some great tips on eyelash-extension safety:
- Go to reputable, licensed and certified aestheticians and ask for referrals
- Ask questions about the salon’s cleanliness and hygiene protocols
- Ask about ingredients and do a patch test first
Dr. Taylor says if something goes wrong and you experience pain, itching or redness after getting extensions, see an ophthalmologist immediately, rather than removing the extensions yourself.
The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any color additives for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows to get a bolder, darker look without makeup. The agency says permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness. If you’d still like to move forward with the service—and many people do—mind the same safety protocols as you would if getting eyelash extensions.
“Read the ingredients in the glue,” says Dr. Taylor, adding that formaldehyde-free is best to avoid an allergic reaction. Makeup artists are a big fan of Ardell Wispies (in particular, #110 and #301); brands KISS, Eylure and MAC #20 are terrific for Trio cluster and half-lashes; or you can go for full-strip lashes such as those from Huda Beauty and Lilly Lashes.
Flutter and fan for your foxiest looks with a variety of volumizing mascaras: Lancôme Hypnôse, Benefit They’re Real!, Dior Diorshow, Charlotte Tilbury Full Fat Lashes all bring the showgirl drama. But after three months, jettison any open eye makeup because it’s a petri dish for infectious bacteria, Dr. Taylor warns. It seems extreme to toss something you just spent good money on—but when you consider how much trouble, time and pain an eye infection causes, it makes much more sense to err on the side of caution.
The best and safest way to get luscious lashes is by being healthy and treating your lashes with the respect they deserve. Dr. Taylor recommends eating omega-3-rich foods, quitting smoking, wearing sunglasses, exercising, practicing good hygiene and not tugging or pulling at your lashes. (A good eye makeup remover and special cloth like Endure Organic Eye Make-up Removal Cloth helps.) If the eyes are the windows to the soul, you want the curtains to be as beautiful as possible.