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
  • Heredity
  • 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.

CONCLUSION:

 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!

 

Jamie

 

Comments

  • Gravatar
    Posted by aResponsibleLasher on

    I highly disagree. Heavy lashes that break the hair follicle will leave the root in tact beneath the skin which will continue growing unless by some miracle, it was due to fall off a day or two later anyway. A broken and growing hair follicle may cause ingrown hairs (like when some hair follicles are broken during waxing) in your lash line. The damage caused by an ingrown hair will also affect a newly growing anagen (as the ingrown eyelash in unable to escape, and remains under the skin for an extended period of time). As an aesthetician, ingrown hairs happen often during waxing due to broken or damaged hair follicles, so I do not see how it would not happen to the hair follicles that create our lash line.
    Furthermore, it is well-known that damaged hair follicles in the anagen phase may permanently stop growing, and the possibility of this happening increases every time the hair an anagen-stage hair follicle is damaged. Chances are quite high that someone who repeatedly wears extensions that put too much stress on the natural lashes will eventually develop bald spots be it in the next application, or 50 applications from now. This is not in reference to natural thinning; when I say balding, I mean balding: the hairs that once grew, grow no more. Please refer, again, to waxing or sugaring, where repeated use will slowly reduce the amount of hairs growing – when damaged in the anagen phase, or there is disruption (that may cause damage) to the hair follicle while in the anagen phase, then the hair(s) risk not growing back at every occurrence. For those of you who do not wax or do sugaring, a more common example would be the reduced amount of stray hairs growing around your eyebrows after repeatedly plucking or waxing them…which is why you should try not to overpluck or overshape them. I know a few girls who used to overpluck regularly, and the results are not pretty. Thankfully for them, they can get feathering or have plenty of motivation to improve their skills at brow application. But eyelashes? Mascara can’t do that, and lash extensions can’t be attached to your skin…your only choices would be to try and cover the missing areas as best as possible through Russian volume lashing (if by this point you can still stomach wearing eyelash extensions), or by going under the knife.
    These odds, again, are significantly increased if an ignorant lash technician applies these heavy extensions to lashes anagen lashes. Not every bare natural lash should be lashed…they can eventually get the opportunity when they get bigger and stronger to support extensions, but I am highly against placing any sort of extra weight on such young eyelashes.
    Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for the 0.30mm lashes of 16mm length, but only if the client’s lashes are strong enough to support them. If it were me, I’d rather not get lashes at all, then to wear overly-heavy lashes that give a temporary high in exchange of losing my real lashes forever. Let me rephrase that: “forever” is not necessarily “forever” as those with permanently bald lash lines can get new ones through an eyelash transplant procedure performed by a certified plastic surgeon…which between you and me, I’d do if I had a bald lash line…but would rather avoid it if at all possible as it is costly, and it is after all…a surgery.
    I am not a fear monger; however, I will tell a potential client if a desired lash length or thickness is too much for their natural lashes to support. There is no magic number, and some people can regularly support lashes as thick as 0.30mm, while others can barely support 0.15mm. The judgement is up to the technician, and when a client insists on using lashes that I deem will be damaging, then I ask that client to find a new lash stylist. Risking to cause permanent damage to a client’s lashes while ruining my reputation when it does happen, is not worth the income made on that one client.

    Please post responsibly before giving people poorly-educated opinions. I don’t mind if you damage your own clients’ lashes, but please do not give other peoples’ clients information lacking fact because your readers’ lash damage and/or that of their clients is on you.

  • Gravatar
    Posted by Jamie on

    Response to post above (aresponsiblelasher): I appreciate your response to my post! I think you may not have understood my point however as I basically believe all the same things you said. The assumption you are making is that I somehow advocate adding a .30 16mm lash repeatedly on the same client ignoring any damage that might occur. To clarify (although I think I state me case fairly well in the post) If a client comes back with lashes that have fallen off, you recognize that their lashes cannot handle the weight, and downsize to a smaller width or stop application alltogether. I state in my conclusion, “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!”
    Clearly, I do not advise anyone to start with the thickest width. I say “ease into” the thicker widths if your client wants them but advise everyone to watch closely for signs of damage. I appreciate your passion, and that is what makes this industry great! We are all passionate about great lashes. Can natural lashes be damaged? Yes, but based on one fill- in my opinion, a careful and knowledgeable lash artist will refuse to continue working on a client that cannot handle the weight- exactly what your conclusion seems to be as well. Thanks again for your thoughts!!
    Jamie

  • Gravatar
    Posted by Regina on

    Thank you for at least writing this article. I appreciate the time and energy you put into it. Also there is some good food for thought and practice included. More knowledge is great! Thank you, Regina

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