The Truth About Lash Extensions and What Your Esthetician Won't Tell You
We're getting down into the dirt of the cosmetic industry in this blog post and hope to shine a light on the lash extension trend that has exploded over the past year. I know personally I never used to bat an eyelash (literally) at the products I was using everyday, let alone take the time to research ingredients, but after my big intro to green beauty that all changed. The goal of these blogs is to combine the inner research nerd in me with the not so glamorous world of societal beauty standards. I’m going to be delving into lash extensions + glue this round and showcasing why ”waking up pretty,” may be doing you more harm than good.
Lash Extensions: We meet women on a weekly basis (pause for a second and let that word weekly sink in), who come into our little beauty bar, with tiny feathery stubs where their lashes used to be. They show up hoping to find a solution to help them combat severe eye irritation as well as to find a quick fix to help them grow their lashes back.
This is 1. very upsetting and 2. raises so many questions about why this happens.
The most interesting thing to our team, who are standing there on the other side of the counter waiting with open arms to help, is that 100% of the time, these beautiful women have instinctively known that showing up in our store will offer them honest truth, honest help, and honest and natural solutions to fix their previous synthetic decision. It’s like a little GK angel showed up on their shoulder after their little synthetic lash devil ripped out all of their lashes. ‘I had a feeling that I shouldn’t have done it’ many say…’but I just REALLY love the look and ease of having them…and now I have paid the price’.
Eyelash extensions are single, semi-permanent hairs that are glued on your own eyelashes and most are made from synthetic fibers. The fact of the matter is that no matter how well or how much you pay for a “full set” you are still at risk for your lashes to fall out with the rest of the extensions. Eyelash extensions can also lead to an infection of the cornea or eyelid, allergic reactions, or swollen eyelids if you’re sensitive to the adhesive. This adhesive contains incredibly irritating chemicals (and the ingredients in the glues and lash removers aren’t strictly regulated). They may look incredibly lush and gorgeous, to begin with (used to seriously tempt me) but that, unfortunately, can have some serious effects on your health. It can also lead to the never-ending cycle of getting lash extensions that cause your lashes to fall out and then getting them again because of all of your lashes of fallen out. There are numerous factors at play here but the big ones are the type of lashes used, the technique, and the adhesive itself. There are three types of lash extensions: synthetic, silk and mink.
Synthetic: These lashes are made from a polished, acrylic material and are the firmest/sturdiest of all. They are designed to look the most dramatic but are also the heaviest on your own lashes.
Silk: These are the mid-weight type of lash extensions, and are finer and more flexible than the synthetic type. Because they are softer and more porous, they tend to hold on slightly longer than the synthetic ones.
Mink: They are very fine, soft and silky, but require the most maintenance. When wet mink fur lashes become straight and wispy and you often need to use a curler to curl them back up. These are the most “natural” looking and lightest as well.
Glue: This is the biggest area of concern when considering lash extensions...and for good reason. Checking what kind of glue is used by the salon and even researching the manufacturer is highly recommended if you choose to still opt for extensions. In a study published in the U.S National Library of Medicine it was found that “Eyelash extension procedures may cause ocular disorders, such as keratoconjunctivitis and allergic blepharitis; indeed, all glues for eyelash extensions analyzed in the present study contained formaldehyde, which can cause keratoconjunctivitis. From the viewpoint of hygienics, it is necessary to disinfect devices, provide handling instructions for organic solvents, improve glue ingredients, and improve the ophthalmologic knowledge of the practitioners.” Unfortunately, studies have found that most of the current adhesives used for extensions have formaldehyde or cyanoacrylate included in their formula. Both of these ingredients are highly controversial and can have negative effects on your health.
Formaldehyde: Formaldehyde is a chemical that is produced on enormous scales and has countless uses. One big one is in the manufacturing of adhesives and it is commonly used as a “chemical feedstock.” The compound is generally considered to be toxic whether it is in, on or breathed into the body. Even on WorkSafe BC’s website, it outlines how even short-term exposure can cause an irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat along with coughing and wheezing. Getting extensions done in the salon and then consistently wearing the glue on your lashes can slowly build up over time and lead to increased risk of sensitivity and irritation.
Cyanoacrylate: Cyanoacrylates are a family of strong fast-acting adhesives with industrial, medical, and household uses. All Cyanoacrylate adhesives contain low levels of formaldehyde measured in ppm (parts per million). Formaldehyde is naturally created as a by-product of the main ingredient and omits a barely undetectable amount into the atmosphere if combined with certain ingredients, or if the adhesive is not properly purified.
I must say it’s a little shocking that with all of the formulations out there, there’s nothing less toxic than cyanoacrylate? This is not only alarming but raises concern for the countless women and the lash technicians themselves who are around these toxic adhesives everyday. Our recommendation is to invest in a great lash curler (we love the Shu Uemura one) and a non-toxic mascara that lifts and gives great volume. Sappho New Paradigm’s vegan mascara has quickly become a favourite in the beauty bar as it gives incredible length and doesn’t clump or flake. Mascara may take those extra couple minutes in the morning but in my opinion is worth not risking my health over.
Sealed with a green kiss...