The dark side of red carpet glamour: Eyelash extensions popular, but may be a health risk

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - From infections to eye abrasions, some women are reporting the not so glamorous effects of eyelash extensions. And if you don't go to a reputable salon for the procedure, your technician could even be using nail glue.

It's a walk on the dark side of red carpet glamour.

"If they don't put them on correctly, they can go into your eye and when you blink you can actually scratch your eye," said optometrist Dr. Kaori Asano.

Eyelash extensions can cause infections, allergic reactions or jobs can be botched that may lead to eye damage.

"Watery eyes, puffy eyes, sometimes it took several weeks for my eyes to recuperate," said Angela Henderson.

It was the price of beauty for Henderson.

"I went to a couple of places where they were in nail salons and the experience wasn't that great," Henderson said.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga are making the extensions appealing.

"Everybody likes more, more, more, darker, longer, thicker," said Jennifer San Juan, owner of Chicago Lashes in Lakeview.

It's an alternative to applying tons of mascara.

In just an hour, a technician can glue 30 to 80 false lashes right onto your own. They typically stay in place for three to four weeks.

"As your natural lashes shed, your extensions shed with them," San Juan said.

But that doesn't make your eyes pop.

"I've seen people come in that have complained of red eyes, I've also had puffy eyes and eyelash loss as well," Dr. Asano said.

Dr. Asano said an allergic reaction to the glue is more common than you think.

"A lot of times it will cause a lot of redness and swelling of the eyelid, it could cause some discharge some mucus discharge," she said.

Also, people should be aware of the cleanliness of the salon.

"So really the bacterial infections come from poor hygiene, so if they're using tools or different glues that they don't clean regularly, that can cause bacterial conjunctivitis or any type of bacterial infection," Dr. Asano.

"Beware of places that are offering you know lower than $100 dollars, you know $50 dollars or $20 dollars may not be the best quality," San Juan said.

San Juan's business has received high marks from clients on Yelp.

"Some alarms would be if the technicians are not licensed through the department of professional regulations here in Illinois," San Juan said.

So what is the good doctor's diagnosis of this beauty craze?

"I think it's safe but I think if you go to places that don't specialize in it and use the right equipment, then you might be asking for trouble," Dr. Asano said.

Another sign of quality is how long the lashes last. The salon owner that FOX 32 News spoke with said they should stay intact up to 8 weeks, with refills once a month.

Originally reported by FOX 32 Chicago

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