Eyelash extensions can have serious health risks

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on June 21, 2012 at 6:38 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 21 at 6:45 PM

DALLAS - Eyelash extensions aren't just for Hollywood starlets anymore.

At a growing number of salons, everyday women can get long, lush lashes, applied one at a time, in about an hour.

Karena Branham couldn't resist.

"The day that I got the extensions, just a few hours after, I noticed that my eyes were just really bloodshot and red," Branham said. "They were really tender and swollen."

She is one of several patients treated by Methodist ophthalmologist Sylvia Hargrave.

"I guess the most prevalent thing that we are seeing is people can be allergic to the glue that is used to adhere the extensions to the lashes," Hargrave said. "People can also have foreign body sensation. And, in some cases, some of the glue can fall off and lodge in the eye, and create corneal abrasions."

In some cases, patients need expensive antibiotics or eye patches.

"If you have an allergic reaction, you want to remove the source of the source of the allergen," Hargrave said. "So the eyelashes would need to be removed. And that's not something that one should do oneself."

Eyelash extensions cost, on average, $200-300 for a first set. Clients then pay about $50-to-75 for regular refills, sometimes as often as twice a month.

Because there is a lot of potential money in the eyelash extensions, more unqualified technicians are doing it.

"The State of Texas does require that anybody applying eyelash extensions be certified," said Shari Harrold of the Lash Lounge. "So, I would suggest asking for that license to see it."

Harrold said the Lash Lounge often sees clients who have gotten botched extensions. In many cases, the client has to have the extension removed. Sometimes, clients even lose their natural lashes for a time.

"We don't ever apply the glue directly to the skin," Harrold said. "That's a major no-no in eyelash extensions -- you don't ever want to apply it directly to the skin."

Karena Branham had to remove her lash extensions and be treated with eye drops. She said thick, full lashes aren't worth the risk.

"Gotta go with what God gave you," Branham said.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com

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