The Optometrist's Eyelash Extension Care Guide to Safer, Healthier and Happier Eyes
photo via @glamstudiohawaii
So you're ready to glam up at your best friend's wedding next weekend or perhaps you already did that and are, let's say - addicted to the look. After all, long lashes are the new black. In the past 2 years, I've seen a surge of my patients wearing eyelash extensions. Why? Mostly, because it makes women feel pretty. No argument there!
In addition, in the past 2 years, I've seen a surge in eyelash extension related infections. Ouch. These infections hurt, look ugly and are inconvenient. A visit to see me involves making an appointment, taking time off work, parking, picking up a prescription and a follow up visit. Because, time is money.
Here, I want to share what I discuss with my patients behind closed exam doors. Follow my 4 tips and you will significantly reduce your risk of loosing lashes from unhealthy, infected eyelash follicles like this:
So your eyes can look more like this:
photo via @beautyisboring_
When it comes to an eye infection, one of my biggest pet peeves is when my patient automatically points the finger at their lash artist. Please don't do that. The reason you have a painful, red, ugly looking eye is because you stopped washing your eyelids. I understand that you want to protect your investment, but there's a way to wear eyelash extensions AND take care of yourself at the same time.
Clean every night
Wash your eyelids every night with We Love Eyes Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Foaming Cleanser. It's safe for eyelids with extensions installed, and has the bonus of tea tree oil to control infection-causing bacteria and demodex.
Step 1: Place a half pump of foaming cleanser onto a cleansing brush.
Step 2: Keep your eyelid closed. With 5-10 firm strokes back and forth, use the brush to wash the entire upper eyelid with the eyelid foaming cleanser. Make sure you get the eyelid margin as this is where bacteria and demodex build up. Do not get the foaming cleanser inside the eye - it's a soap, so it will sting!
Step 3: Rinse the brush under lukewarm tap water and tap the brush on a towel to blot any excess water.
Step 4: With 2-5 gentle strokes back and forth, use the brush to rinse away any soapy residue. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until any soapy residue is completely removed. Remember you are cleaning the eyelids, not the inside of the eyes.
Eye makeup choices
photo via petit vour
I always remind my patients to never use any waterproof eye makeup when they have eyelash extensions installed. That's because waterproof is difficult to remove without using an oil based eye makeup remover, which can loosen the attachment point and make your extension fall out prematurely. Use water-based primers, eye shadows and eyeliners.
Lastly, there is absolutely no reason to wear mascara when you have extensions installed (they already look long and luscious). Shown here is one of my favorite, healthy eye makeup brands, Lily Lolo. You can learn more about healthier eye makeup options here.
To refill or deep clean?
Each time you return for a refill, your lash artist will want to inspect your eyelids under magnification for signs of potential infection. Your lash artist will be checking for any signs of blepharitis, which can be comprised of bacteria, demodex or both. Here, the waxy, cylindrical appearance of the eyelid debris indicates a demodex mite infestation.
If there are ANY signs of blepharitis, your lash artist will want to remove all remaining extensions and perform a deep cleaning. I recommend using the We Love Eye Eyelid Scrubbing Kit to perform a thorough eyelid scrubbing to physically remove bacteria, demodex debris, allergens, and old eye makeup residue - anything that may cause inflammation or infection.
photo via @eyeconicbeautyaz
This should be done so the eyelids are 100% sparkling clean and then a complete, brand-new and clean extension set installed. This may cost more than a refill, but it's far less inconvenient than having an ugly, red eye.
Got an infection right now?
photo via Oakland Vision Center
And if you are reading this because you may have an eye infection related to eyelash extensions - please schedule an office visit with your optometrist right now.
Infections of the eyelids cannot be ignored. An infection of the eyelid can lead to a deeper infection called periorbital cellulitis, which requires an oral antibiotic treatment to prevent the infection from spreading into the eye, sinus cavity and in rare cases, the brain.
Now that you have the tools to stay healthy, go out into the world and enjoy those beautiful eyelash extensions of yours. And even though long lashes are the new fashion statement - happy eyes are always in style.
Dr. Tanya Gill, O.D. is the clinic director of Oakland Vision Center Optometry in Oakland, CA, USA. She graduated from the UC Berkeley School of Optometry in 1999 and is on a mission to clean every dirty eyelid in the world, including yours.