Woman briefly blinded by eyelash extensions warns others of potential dangers

Photo: Megan Rixson/Twitter
Photo: Megan Rixson/Twitter

In the name of beauty, we can put up with a lot of discomfort and a little pain. One woman in the U.K. thought that’s all she was doing when she got eyelash extensions last week and the process started to sting her eye, but a reaction to the glue her tech was using temporarily blinded her. Though this isn’t a typical problem, it brings to light the potential dangers of the process when it isn’t done right.

“Girls, be very, very careful where you get your eyelashes done!!” Megan Rixson tweeted last week. “I got my individuals done today somewhere new, and it turns out they used nail glue on my lashes. I genuinely lost my sight for 2 hours.”

Rixson told Buzzfeed News that the stinging began while the technician was applying the lashes to her open eyes. The technician said that was totally normal and continued to work on her. Later, when she was in pain and lost her eyesight, she went to a clinic and got an eye wash and drops. Now she’s on the mend but was also eager to share her experience as a warning to others.

Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in New York, tells Yahoo Lifestyle that what Rixson experienced was definitely not normal and was probably an indication that the technician was not an experienced or trained professional.

“When you’re getting extensions done, the eyes are closed the entire time,” Richardson explains. “The likelihood of getting any adhesive or anything in the eyes should be low.”

People might experience a little bit of stinging, she admits, particularly after the application is complete and they first open their eyes. Richardson tries to alleviate that with fans and the light spray from a nebulizer.

“Another problem the clients have is when their eyes are closed, but then their phone goes off,” she says. “They get an email or they get a text, and they want to open their eyes to see what’s going on. Of course, your eyes are going to sting.”

But before any of that, Richardson does her best to make sure they won’t have any reaction to the adhesive she uses, which is similar to the glue surgeons use on skin to suture wounds. At other salons, you can ask to see the adhesive, to make sure it’s meant for eyelashes (not nails!) and doesn’t contain formaldehyde, which is an allergen. Those with sensitive skin can spot-test the adhesive behind the ear or in the armpit, though that’s still not a 100 percent guarantee against a reaction.

“If a client’s not too sure, we have a trial set, so instead of applying our basic set which is 80 strands per eye, this is 40 strands per eye,” she says.

The American Academy of Ophthamology states that in addition to allergic reactions, the main dangers lash extensions pose are trauma to the eyelid or cornea (like a tweezer to the eye, yow), infection, and temporary or permanent loss of lashes.

To prevent infection, the AAO advises people to look for signs that all the equipment being used is sanitized.

“You don’t want to see the tweezers just lying around the table,” Richardson says. They should be in sterilizing machines or soaking in a disinfecting solution.

You still need to take some care after you leave the salon, too. “It takes about 48 hours for the adhesive to completely cure, so if you get wet, the water gets in the eye and that also stings,” Richardson warns. She tells clients not to work out or do anything else that will make them sweat.

If you want to keep your fake and real lashes intact, one absolute no-no is rubbing your eyes. Richardson goes so far as to tell potential clients that lash extensions are probably a bad idea for anyone prone to rubbing their eyes, due perhaps to seasonal allergies.

“The extensions are attached a millimeter from the lash line, so if you rub your eyes, you’re going to pull the extensions out and the natural lashes along with them,” she says.

To eliminate many of the concerns you may have about safety and sanitary conditions, go with someone experienced, trained, and licensed (as an aesthetician or cosmetologist). An experienced technician will be able to tell right away if you’re having a bad reaction to something and will figure out why.

That’s how Richardson knew something was wrong when she gave Mary J. Blige, her client of three years, a touchup on the outer corners of her eyes.

“When she got up, she was tearing and tearing, and the under eye was puffy,” Richardson says, explaining how she deduced that the singer was actually allergic to the medical tape she was using. “I took makeup remover and wiped it, and immediately it stopped.”

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