Dangerous lashes: Eyelash extensions can result in cosmetic nightmare

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Eyelash Extensions Lead to Cosmetic Nightmare

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WXIN)-- Since the days of black and white television, women have been going to great lengths to get eyelashes that pop.

Fast forward to today and the trend hasn't slowed down. From a strip of fake eyelashes that can be removed daily to the latest fad-- eyelash extensions that are applied one by one and can last for a few weeks.

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The look is glamorous, bringing attention to your eyes and can make the everyday woman feel like a star.

Except for when the process to look this good damages your eyes.

"Around my eyes, like right around where my eyelashes connect to my skin, that was itchy but also my eye itself was itchy," said Michelle Lundberg.

Lundberg said she felt anything but pretty after an eyelash extension session gone bad.

The process is tedious. A trained stylist applies one synthetic lash to each of your real lashes.

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The process can take a couple of hours and it's not cheap, around $200. Taking a shortcut can put your eyesight at risk.

"I had a different friend who said you should go to my lady, she's cheaper and faster because again the issue is you have to sit there for a long time on a regular basis or your eyelashes look funny," said Lundberg.

"They like the instant gratification," said Natalie Dawn, a trained lash stylist at MDG salon in Indianapolis. "They want to go to someone who can get it done in 45 minutes. And that's not ideal."

Dawn takes the full two hours to apply a full set of lashes. She says some of the side effects point to the glue that's used.

Some glue contains formaldehyde, which can have severe health effects.

"The adhesive that I use is medical grade so it's very, very strong. If you have a big clump of lashes glued together and they start to grow out they will break off. You will end up losing those lashes," said Dawn.

Optometrist Penn Moody says the damage can go even further.

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"You're concerned about corneal abrasion or you could have a corneal burn if you have the right kind of chemical in there. And those abrasions what they do is break the epithelium or the outer layer of the cornea and the cornea can become infected," said Dr. Moody.

In extreme cases, contact with formaldehyde can even cause blindness. But in most cases, the women who pack on the lashes for more volume, those thicker lashes could lead to irritating dry eyes.

"The dryness can happen because you're affecting the flow of the tears. There's pores for accessory tear glands that are right along where the eyelashes are and so if you plug those up or damage those it can actually cut down on your tear flow," said Dr. Moody.

Dawn says do your research into what products the stylist use and if they've been professionally trained.

"Just make sure you're asking the questions and you're not just going out just getting whatever offer is out there. Because this is your eyes. You want to take care of them," said Natalie.

Dr. Moody says this could be a beautiful mistake that leaves an ugly lasting impact.

"The damage you do can be permanent. So you think all you're doing is getting eyelashes put on your eyes so you look prettier but there's other factors you have to take into account," said Dr. Moody.

And for Michelle what turned into a cosmetic nightmare taught her a life lesson about embracing your natural beauty.

"That's what I guess I learned from all of this is just be comfortable with who you are."

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