Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions: How to Spot the Signs
Picture this: your client leaves with a gorgeous, fluffy, full set of lashes. The next day, they text you ‘I’m having an allergic reaction!’ - what comes next? Well, panic - naturally, but then what?
First, you have to know how to recognise an allergic reaction - is this actually an allergy or is it something else? Once you’ve established this, what can you suggest?
How do you recognise an allergic reaction to eyelash extensions?
An allergic reaction to eyelash extensions will primarily entail puffy eyelids. You may additionally see some of these symptoms:
- Watery eyes
- Redness of the skin
- Itchy lash line
Allergic reactions can be present on both eyes or just one eye - it varies from client to client.
If your client comes to you with bloodshot eyes, you can be safe in the knowledge that it’s unlikely to be an allergic reaction - bloodshot eyes are the result of a chemical burn which, though uncomfortable, will go down by itself and is pretty easy to prevent in future! We have apost which goes into much more depth about chemical burns, so if this is what you’re dealing with, I’d advise you to go ahead and read that for some tips and advice!
Can You Be Allergic to Eyelash Extensions?
The lashes themselves - no. Eyelash extensions are made from a synthetic fibre and the common names ‘mink’, ‘silk’ and ‘cashmere’ are just there to signify that the lashes in two different collections look different from one another.
What your client is reacting to will almost certainly be to the eyelash extensions glue - and I say ‘almost certainly’ and not ‘without a shadow of a doubt’ as a client can be allergic to eyepatches as well - this will show up as soon as you remove them though, and will go down after a few hours. Allergic reactions to any of the pretreatment products is highly unlikely too as they’re not in contact with the skin, and don’t linger/produce fumes - if a client is very sensitive just make sure they’re okay with the ingredients in anything that does touch the skin, such as lash shampoo and Protein Remover Wipes.
Lash glue contains an ingredient called cyanoacrylate - it’s present in every lash glue (yes, even those that are labelled ‘sensitive’), which is why we never suggest trying lashes again after a reaction.
What to Do If Your Client Has an Allergic Reaction
If a client has an allergic reaction, you can suggest they visit their local pharmacy, or their GP to see if they can recommend any medicine to reduce the swelling and discomfort. What we can never do as lash technicians is recommend any medicine ourselves as we’re not medical professionals - leave it for a GP or pharmacist to say ‘antihistamines will help’ - it’s not worth getting in trouble over!
You can remove the lashes if the client wants you to. The reaction won’t go down straight away as the body is still reacting to it having been there.
I say ‘if you want to’ as it’s not an absolute MUST if your client isn’t super uncomfortable - if they’re still happy to have the lashes you can absolutely leave them on. Once the glue bonds have cured and are no longer letting out any fumes, the body will stop reacting to it.
Now, if your client is a frequenter of hot yoga, saunas and steam rooms you SHOULD remove the lashes! Why? When the glue is exposed to very high heats it will soften and more fumes will be emitted. I love lashes as much as the next person, but no set of eyelash extensions is worth having puffy eyes every two weeks!
If your client would like the lashes removed but their eyelids are super puffy, it might make it difficult for you to access the glue bonds - in this case let the swelling go down. Getting remover in your eye is so much worse than allergy-eyelids, I promise you!
Can A Client Who’s Had A Reaction Have Lashes Again?
I’d say no. It’s highly likely that one reaction will lead to more reactions - an allergic reaction to cyanoacrylate is an accumulative reaction, which means that the body builds up a resistance to it over time, until one day it just flat out refuses to cooperate (this is also why it is more common for a long-time client to suddenly have a reaction than a brand new client). This also means that each subsequent reaction is likely to be worse than the last so it’s really not worth trying again and again…
It’s true that our cells do regenerate and our tolerance to allergens changes over time so perhaps a year down the line that client will be okay, but you’ll need to be so careful!