Lower maintenance than lash extensions and more convenient than curling lashes and applying mascara every morning, lash lifts are an easy way to make your eyelashes look longer and fuller. Think of lash lifts as a kind of perm for your lashes: your lashes are curled over a curling rod with a lifting solution, then tinted.
“A lash lift done by a professional will look beautiful and should last four to six weeks, grow out with the normal lash growth process, and not damage your natural lashes,” says Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes. But while an at-home lash lift may sound like the perfect solution to masking your Zoom fatigue, take caution — some things are best left to the professionals, and lash lifts are one of them.
During the pandemic, however, more people than ever have been attempting lash lifts using at-home kits. In fact, the search query "lash lift kits" saw an all-time high on Google in April 2020, according to Google Trends.
Lash lifts involve using chemical solution near your eyes, and experts agree that using an at-home kit is extremely dangerous. “You should not do a lash lift at home,” says Annie Gonzalez, M.D, F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology. "The chemical process puts you at risk for retinal burns and infections.” An at-home lash lift could also irritate skin or cause swelling, permanent bald spots in your lashes, and the worse-case-scenario: blindness.
Richardson stresses that in order for a lash lift to be done correctly, eyes need to remain closed. "You must avoid getting the product into the eyes at all costs," she says. If you’re doing an at-home version, keeping your eyes closed the entire time is next to impossible.
Ophthalmologist Diane Hilal-Campo, M.D. explains that an at-home lash lift gone wrong could go very, very wrong. “The chemicals in the eyelash perm solution contain ammonia and formaldehyde, which can kill the delicate structures that are important to eye health like the meibomian glands, which are at the lid bases and produce the oil layer of the tears and help preserve the architecture of the eyelid,” she says. “These glands do not regenerate, and their death can lead to permanent dry eye symptoms of red, irritated eyes, blurry vision, and tearing. If the perm solution gets on the cornea, it can cause permanent scarring of the cornea, possible bacterial infection and blindness.”
It's also important to note that ingredients in at-home lash lifts can be harsh on the eye area, according to the FDA, and additionally, "permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries."
Looking at one of Amazon's most popular lash lift kits, the bad reviews are pretty scary. "My lashes have been falling out so much and my eyes are always so dry and itchy when they wake up now," one reviewer says. "I have what feels like chemical burn all around my eyes," another writes. "My skin is so swollen."
If you do try to do a lash lift at home it's recommended that you do a patch test before using to make sure you don't have a bad reaction. It you get some solution in your eye, “immediately flush the eye with copious amounts of water or eyewash solution for 20 minutes,” says Hilal-Campo. “If vision is affected, or the eye is persistently red and painful after flushing copiously, you should immediately go to the local emergency room or your eye doctor’s office.”
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