Can Eyelash Extensions Damage your Natural Lashes? If so, How much?
You might have a similar question as some of the people who call me do, asking about how much do eyelash extensions interfere with natural eyelash growth? Can I damage my eyelashes by wearing thicker or heavier lashes?
There are even some (but few) lash extension trainers who use scare tactics to convince lash artists to only use lighter widths in an effort to promote their lashes for sale. If educated properly on the subject, you will be able to safely apply most lashes to your clients without fearing causing a rare disease or leaving them without their natural lashes!
So- here is a summary of a lot of research I have done over the years. And, believe me, I have learned a lot about natural lash growth. I hope that these facts I have studied will give you some direction and knowledge that will help guide you and provide a safe and great experience to your clients in your eyelash extension career.
1) CAN NATURAL LASHES GET DAMAGED BY EYELASH EXTENSIONS?
The simple and quick answer is, yes! But it helps to understand why. The human hair growth cycle:
There are 3 stages of eyelash growth. They are:
- Anagen phase, 4–7 months for a typical hair. The hair can grow up to 1 cm every 28 days! That means a lash will only take between 1-2 months to grow to full length.
- Catagen phase, 3–4 weeks. The lash is done growing and basically prepares to fall out naturally.
- Telogen phase, about 9 months. The lash naturally sheds.
- The lash returns to Anagen Phase again... and starts to grow naturally! ...yay!
"Unfortunately, thinning eyelashes are part of the aging process. So, if your lashes don't seem to have the same length and fullness they once did, don't worry, in most cases, there's no reason for alarm. Still, you should share any concerns with your health care provider.
Eyelash growth has four stages: growth, resting, shedding and re-growth. Your lashes continuously cycle through these four stages. As we age, eyelash follicles (the openings in the skin through which the lash grows) can slow or stop producing new lashes altogether.
Aside from age, there are other reasons someone might not have enough lashes. These may include:
- Scrubbing or rubbing eyelashes too hard, which can damage the skin and cause delicate eyelashes to fall out
- Medical conditions
- Some medications and treatments"
(information from healthywoman.org)
As it relates to Eyelash Extensions, If there is too much weight from the lashes and/or too much glue, your natural lash could break or pull out altogether and therefore cause damage to the EXISTING lash hair follicle. As you can see from the chart, barring age or disease, the lashes will grow back. The usual time to regrow to full natural length is 7-8 weeks. You do not want to have no lashes for that long however, so know your craft, and pay attention to the facts in this blog post. You should be fine!
The good news here is, that Eyelash Extensions for the vast majority will only cause temporary damage if any damage occurs at all.
2) WHAT WEIGHT OR WIDTH OF LASH SHOULD I USE FOR MY CLIENTS?
This is where your understanding of the previous question becomes valuable. You need to assess each client and the health of their eyelashes along with the thickness of the natural lashes and age should be considered as well. Making a blanket statement that a .25 will cause damage is like saying that using a drug store hair coloring kit will permanently damage your hair. For some that may be true, but for most- it might not look as good as a professional doing it, but it will not cause any lasting damage at all. To determine if your client's natural lashes can handle the weight of a thicker lash, just ask a few questions, like:
-Have you always had thick and strong eyelashes?
-Have you noticed eyelash loss lately?
-How long do you want your lash extensions to be?
The answers to these questions will help you determine what width would be best. Also, you get to know your clients after a few fills, and if you notice lash loss or drooping eyelashes- recommend they go with a lighter lash. The thicker the width, the heavier the lash. I have known some who do best with a 0.07 width (a volume lash) as individual extensions. You lose some of the fullness and mascara look that so many love, but they still get the benefits of length and beauty from eyelash extensions.
3) DOES THE GLUE ITSELF CAUSE EYELASH DAMAGE?
This one depends totally on the skill of the lash artist applying the lashes. If you are not familiar with eyelash extensions... then you might apply WAAAY too much glue (see image above) and do some pretty serious damage, at least temporarily, to the natural lashes. You need to make sure that the glue you use is as fresh as possible! I have another post you need to read about how you should store eyelash extension glue. That article will at least help you make it last as long as possible- but remember, eyelash extension glue has a limited shelf life, and once you notice it getting more clumpy or thick, it is time to replace it! Waiting too long can cause bad consequences with your career! Make sure you are trained properly by somebody who really understands the details of eyelash extensions. Take your time, and make sure you know what you are doing- don't guess. Make sure you are using the right glue for your client as well. There are many glues out there- get one that makes the most sense for your general use (I use Signature Latex-Free glue by Revelation) and then have a more gentle glue available for the more sensitive clients.
The glue itself is not likely to ruin eyelashes. I use Revelation products, and some blink products only at this point. I trust those brands. I am sure there are others as well- but I have found what works great for me and I stick with those. Also remember, you must have glue remover specifically made for eyelash extensions handy before you apply! If anything goes wrong such as allergic reaction to the chemicals in the glue and you are not ready for that possibility- then you are in a lot of trouble... Again, know what you are doing and if I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times- ALWAYS TEST THE GLUE FIRST ON EACH CLIENT! It is worth the wait! Use as little glue as possible and avoid bunching the glue or allowing the lashes to stick together in clusters after individual application.
4) ALOPECIA: WHAT IS IT? CAN EYELASH EXTENSIONS CAUSE IT?
Ok, so I will emphasize here that I AM NOT A DOCTOR! So, if you want a professional's opinion- go somewhere else. I have studied and read quite a bit about this however, and from all accounts I have read, Alopecia is a very sad disease. It is hereditary (passed down in genes) in most cases, and can be caused by things largely out of your control. There is something called "traction alopecia" which some say can be caused by wearing eyelash extensions. From everything I have read, it is almost always attributed to extremely tight and frequent wearing of ponytails, weaves or braids. (as in the image above) It usually presents in a retraction of a hairline. You can only imagine what kind of force that would cause that kind of hair loss. So, is it possible that eyelash extensions could potentially cause traction alopecia? Yes, I suppose it is possible. But keep in mind that it is possible you win the lottery too. From my humble and unprofessional opinion on medical conditions, it seems very unlikely, especially if as a professional eyelash extension artist, you pay attention to lash loss in your clients and respond accordingly with lighter and possible fewer lashes. The typical time between fills is 2 weeks, so to say that you could cause permanent lash loss seems far fetched to me. I have never seen it or heard of anyone seeing it be caused by eyelash extensions. My conclusion: Don't worry about it. Keep your tweezers sterilized at all times, and pay attention. Feel free to use any width you want if your client's natural lashes seem healthy and strong enough.
The bottom line is that if you know what you are doing as an eyelash extension professional- and you pay attention to signs that the lashes your clients are wearing are just too heavy for their lashes, then you can apply whatever your client asks for. I would ease into the thick and heavier lashes for older clients given that their lashes weaken with age. Also, like I mentioned above, ask a few probing questions about their lashes and history of lash loss BEFORE you apply eyelash extensions. If you are responsible and cautious- you will have healthy lashes and happy clients!
BEST OF LUCK!