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From minor itching to serious infections, experts discuss dangers of eyelash extensions

SALT LAKE CITY -- Following in the footsteps of celebrities like Nicki Minaj and Adele, Michelle Lundberg of Sandy says eyelash extensions were a luxury that made her life easier.

"I worked for a company where it was business professional, and I felt like I always had to look on," Lundberg said.

However, getting those luscious lashes took a lot of time and money.

"I had a different friend who said, 'You should go to my lady, she's cheaper and faster,'" Lundberg said.

When Lundberg went with the cheaper option, she walked away with itchy, red eyes.

"Around my eyes, like right around where my eyelashes connect to my skin, that was itchy, but also my eye itself was itchy," Lundberg said.

Then, when she tried to have the false lashes taken off, her eyelashes broke off completely.

“It took weeks and weeks and weeks for them to grow back to normal," Lundberg said.

Ophthalmologist Mark Mifflin says Lundberg's experience is pretty common, as many experience things from minor issues like itching and redness to a serious corneal infection.

"An abrasion on the cornea, which is like a scratch, but sometimes those can actually become infected and that can lead to scarring," Mifflin said.

Dr. Mifflin said scarring on your eye can threaten your vision.

Even Consumers Reports is telling its readers to stick to mascara.

Marisa Kelly opened up Entice Lashes & Brows three years ago, and she says those issues can be prevented.

"All of those can be prevented by proper application, by your artist knowing what they’re doing," Kelly said.

Since opening Entice Lashes & Brows, Kelly has seen her business double in size every year.

"I feel like we've just barely hit the tip of it," Kelly said.

Over the years, Kelly has heard all the horror stories, but she said her clients aren't experiencing them. She said some issues are caused by using the wrong material around the eye.

"When they're taping down the bottom lashes to keep those out of the way, they are using tape, which can really irritate the eye," she said. "It’s got that sharp edge on it."

Kelly said some other horror stories are caused by using the wrong type of lashes.

"Losing all of your lashes, that happens if your artist is putting too heavy of a lash onto your natural lash," she said. "Your natural lashes can’t support that weight, so it will in time become very fragile and break."

Other issues are caused by using the wrong glue, some of which are formaldehyde based. Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and toxin known to cause allergic reactions. Kelly says that type of glue is the cheapest option and when it comes to lash extensions, you get what you pay for.

"If you're paying $30 for a full set, they're probably not using the proper products," Kelly said.

Dr. Mifflin recommends women have the extensions put on a by a reputable professional, but he still has an important warning.

"Even if you start to have mild side effects, it’s probably not safe to use them," Mifflin said.

After her traumatic experience, Lundberg decided long, luscious lashes weren't worth the risk.

"That's what I guess I learned from all of this, is just be comfortable with who you are," Lundberg.

Lundberg ultimately decided she’s unwilling to compromise her eyesight for the eye-popping look.

12 comments

  • Danielle

    I am extremely offended by this. I am a 22 year old mother with a 2 1/2 year old who is going to school so I can become a lash artist so I can be there for my son by take him to soccer pre school and support him to give him the best life possible. Eye lash extensions are safe of the client does the right research about who is going to do them. There is no reason what’s so ever to bash on people who are doing what the love and supporting there family’s. At the end they mentioned they recommend mascara over eye lash extensions? Do you realize by saying that you could be putting people out of work? Do you know how many chemicals are in mascara? And it is not hard to take off make up at all you want to clean your eye lashes since they are there to protect your eye lashes. Baby shampoo is the best to clean them with which is why you should research about them before you do a segment on bashing eyelash extensions. Being a eye lash artist is my passion I love that it is a art and it can make someone feel so much better about them self. What if no one wanted there eye lashes done after this? I would have just wasted a year of school and working for free being away from my son for nothing.

    • bob

      “Extremely offended”…..LOL! You must lead a charmed life.

      The age of your son has nothing to do with eyelash extensions. Get over yourself. And guess what? THE FAD WILL PASS. Don’t base your career choice on something nobody is going to be doing in 2 years.

      Eyelash extensions look ridiculous anyway. They make everyone look like Phyllis Diller.

      • Spencer Reid

        Bob why do you always seem to bash on people? Are you really so Callous and indifferent to people. Or are you really that big of a Jerk, that you always have to verbally attack people. Maybe that is the only way you can feel good about yourself

      • BUTTHEAD

        @SPENCER REID
        Do you even have the foggiest idea how many Bobs, Anotherbobs, and Not a Bobs there are that comment here? Can you be more specific Specer? Which Bob are you referring to?

    • BUTTHEAD

      If you’re 22 and and have a 2 1/2-year old child you got married waaaaay tooooo early. You did give your child a real genuine lives at home father didn’t you? By-the-way honey, if you can afford toddler soccer you have way more money than most mothers.

      • Spencer Reid

        Yes I do know how many Bobs are on here, and more often than not they all seem to have to Verbally bash on Anybody and Everybody. I was specifically Addressing this BOB. BOB
        “Extremely offended”…..LOL! You must lead a charmed life.

        The age of your son has nothing to do with eyelash extensions. Get over yourself. And guess what? THE FAD WILL PASS. Don’t base your career choice on something nobody is going to be doing in 2 years.

        Eyelash extensions look ridiculous anyway. They make everyone look like Phyllis Diller.

      • bob

        “Too young” depends on the individual. I’d argue that she’ll be too young when she’s 40. But I know 18 years olds who were plenty ready.

        I’d venture to say that at least half the population will NEVER be ready to be a parent.

    • april

      You’re extremely offended by a doctor’s opinion that an infection could occur if done improperly? Be as offended as you want but if a fad is posing a health risk, people deserve to know about it. It’s the same with tattoos- know who you’re going to but don’t be offended when a licensed professional warns of possible health risks.
      Also, no one is bashing on what you do. If you’re doing your job well, then you’ll probably be just fine. Defending what you do because it’s a source of income on an article based on health risks is a little disheartening. You may be making an honest living but understand that so is everyone else, you’re not special here. Your interest in making an income doesn’t supersede health concerns.
      I support what you do, I think eyelash extensions can probably be done right and be well taken care of but that doesn’t change the public right to know the risks involved.

  • Cliff

    O M G !!!! This is such a brave lady for telling the world of her horrible experience. She could have died or been disfigured for life. Thank you for sharing your horrible experience.

    Please, please tell others about this very traumatizing experience so that no one else will have to go through what this lady did. I mean look at how long she suffered. It makes my mothers terminal cancer look like a cake walk.

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