Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extension

allergic reaction to eyelash extension

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Lash extensions are supposed to make you feel beautiful. They should make your eyes look big and glamorous - not swollen and itchy! In this post, we’re talking about allergic reactions to eyelash extensions, of course. 

Allergic reactions are no fun. Here’s everything you need to know about allergies and eyelash extension irritation, so you can keep your eyes gorgeously healthy. 

What Causes Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions?

An allergic reaction is when the immune system decides that a foreign substance poses harm, even if it doesn’t. We’re all familiar with nut and pollen allergies, but you can also experience lash extension allergies.  

In the majority of cases, allergic reactions to eyelash extensions are caused by the glue. The main ingredient in lash glues is cyanoacrylate, and there’s a small percentage of the population that responds to it badly. 

Other ingredients that may cause allergic reactions include carbon black dye, hydroquinone (sometimes listed as 1,4-dihydroxybenzene), latex, and formaldehyde. 

There’s no one lash extension adhesive formula that’ll work for everyone, so it’s worth figuring out exactly which of these ingredients you’re allergic to. There is probably a lash extension glue out there that’ll work for you, so knowing will make all of the difference.  

Eyelash Extension Allergy vs. Irritation: What’s the Difference?

An allergic reaction is an immune system response, while irritation is a reaction to an irritating chemical. Having an allergy means you’re limited in the kind of glue you can use, while irritation is pretty easy to avoid.  

It’s very hard to tell the difference between the two since the responses are subtle. Usually, the timeline will give you the biggest hint: 

Allergic reactions can show immediately after you get your lashes, but sometimes they’ll take a couple of days to make themselves known. The reaction will last for as long as the skin is in contact with the lash adhesive, and sometimes even for a few days after. It’s also possible to develop an allergy after years of getting extensions, which sadly can make things a little unpredictable. 

Irritation is more common in those with sensitive skin. It will usually show up during the curing period for your lash extensions and can subside on its own within a few hours as the glue finishes curing. Your chanes of irritation are higher if the glue actually comes in contact with your eyes or skin. That largely depends on the adhesive’s drying time, the climate, and your lash technician’s skill level. 

Symptoms of Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions

allergic reaction to eyelash extension

These are the common symptoms of an allergic reaction to lash extensions. 

Allergic reaction in the eyelids

  • Swelling
  • Redness 
  • Itchiness 

Allergic reaction in the eyes

  • Watery eyes 
  • Redness in the cornea 
  • Itchiness 

Eyelash Extension Irritation Symptoms 

Irritation can be similar to an allergy, but it’s usually milder, with less swelling. It’s usually more localized to the skin than the eyes. These are the main symptoms: 

  • Mild pain or an irritated feeling 
  • Itchiness
  • Redness

What About Infections? 

It’s also possible to experience infection, usually as a result of going to a poorly run salon or an unlicensed lash technician. If your eyes aren’t just red and inflamed but also feeling gritty and sticky, you might be dealing with an infection. If you experience that, seek medical care as soon as possible. 

Eyelash Extension Allergy Treatment

allergic reaction to eyelash extension

While irritation can often resolve itself with a bit of time, if you’re having an allergic reaction you’ll likely want to do the following: 

  • Have the lashes professionally removed as soon as possible
  • Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about treatment to mitigate the symptoms
  • Take an oral antihistamine or use antihistamine eye drops 
  • Apply a topical allergy-relief product that’s safe for the eye area 
  • Try a cold compress to alleviate the irritation

Note that these are general suggestions and not medical advice. When in doubt, please speak to a doctor - especially if your symptoms are severe or if they don’t improve in a few days. 

Preventing Eyelash Extension Allergy

Here are the best ways to prevent an eyelash extension reaction in the first place.

Avoid Professional Extensions 

It’s sometimes best to avoid lash extensions altogether. Instead, you can try DIY extensions which tend to be more friendly to those with common adhesive allergies. The glue is still acrylate-based, but it’s more gentle and less likely to cause irritation or allergies. 

Ask for a Patch Test

Ask your technician to conduct an allergy test. You can test for allergies by applying a drop of glue behind your ear or by applying just 2-3 extensions to the outer corner of your eye. Negative reactions usually occur very quickly, but sometimes it can take a few hours. Consider scheduling your consultation for a few days before your actual appointment to give yourself enough time to find out. 

Choose Your Technician Carefully 

If you know for a fact that you’re allergic to eyelash extensions or that you just have very sensitive eyes, make sure to choose your lash technician carefully and to have a consultation. During the consultation, ask your tech what they generally do to prevent irritation.

Here are the signs you’ve picked the right technician for the job: 

  • Their salon looks very clean and organized, and the area where they perform the treatment is well-ventilated. 
  • They remind you to keep your eyes closed during treatment.
  • They explain lash extension aftercare thoroughly and carefully. 
  • They explain their technique in detail. 
  • They have a few extension adhesives to choose from, including options for sensitive eyes. 
  • They have techniques or tools like a nanomister that can speed up adhesive curing time. 

Use the Right Lash Extension Adhesive

More experienced lash technicians have a few adhesives they can use. They know how to pick the right glue for different environments and how to apply it safely, to reduce any contact with your eyes or skin. 

This way, even clients with sensitivities to the glue ingredient may not have any negative reactions. Ask your lash technician questions, and make sure they understand how the different adhesives in their arsenal can work.  


Is Lash Extension Glue Allergy Dangerous?

If you treat your allergy quickly, the glue allergy likely won’t be dangerous. The dangerous side effects only come if you don’t treat your allergic reaction, in which case the compromised skin can become infected. 

How Long Does The Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions Last?

Your allergic reaction shouldn’t last for more than a few days, assuming you cease contact with the allergen and have the extensions removed. If your reaction doesn’t subside, seek medical attention as soon as you can. 

Can You Develop an Allergy to Lash Adhesives?

Yes. Allergies aren’t consistent over a lifetime. It’s very common to react just fine to a product or ingredient for years, but then develop an allergy after repeated exposure. 

Will Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions Go Away?

Yes. Your allergic reaction will definitely subside once your body is no longer exposed to the allergen. Additionally, it’s not unheard of for people to have an allergic reaction to a substance once, and then be able to tolerate it without issues later on in life. 

How Common is Allergic Reaction to Lash Extensions?

Allergic reactions to lash extensions are very rare. It’s hard to come up with exact numbers, but the most common adhesive allergen is latex, to which only around 1% of the population is allergic - and that adhesive isn’t commonly used in professional extensions. In comparison, short-term irritation is a lot more common.

Final Thought

Allergic reactions to lash extensions are pretty rare, while irritation is sadly, very common. Both can be treated easily, but neither one is fun. That’s why choosing the right lash technician and being careful with the adhesive is so important. 

If you have sensitive eyes and you’re interested in lash extensions, you can always try a more gentle option like Lilac St. DIY Extensions. Here’s to keeping your eyes bright and healthy!

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Maya Adivi

Make Up Artist | Beauty Writer

Maya Adivi is a makeup artist and beauty writer originally from Toronto, Canada. She’s passionate about all things makeup, skincare, and beauty. She takes a science-based approach to writing, ignoring the marketing buzz in favor of facts and re...