Dyeing Eyelashes: What are the Health Risks?

June 13, 2009 by Kristie Leong MD  
Published in Beauty

Dyed eyelashes are a growing trend, particularly among teenagers. Is it ever safe to do?

There are a variety of reasons why a woman would want to dye her eyelashes. Some women have eyelashes that are naturally pale, while others may choose to change their eyelash color to match a recent hair color change. Although mascara can be used to darken eyelashes, it doesn’t always look natural and can clump and smear. While dyed eyelashes sound like a simple solution, changing eyelash color is not without its risks. Here’s what you need to know before booking an appointment to have your eyelashes dyed.

A New Fashion Trend?

Dyed eyelashes are a growing trend despite the potential health risks. Dyeing eyelashes a different shade is particularly popular among teenagers who often ignore health warnings and dye their eyelashes at home using conventional hair dyes. Needless to say, this can carry significant risks since these dyes were never intended to be used around the eyes and clearly state this in the instructions.

Is It Ever Safe to Dye Eyelashes?

Even if dyed eyelashes are done by a professional, the risks to vision can be substantial. Like hair dyes, eyelash dyes contain ingredients such as peroxide and ammonia which can cause significant eye irritation and damage. There’s also the potential for a severe allergic reaction to the dye that could, in some cases, lead to visual loss.

Keep in mind that the FDA hasn’t approved any products to dye eyelashes due to the concern about safety issues. You could be taking your vision or even your life into your own hands when you get your eyelashes dyed at a salon, particularly if it’s performed by someone inexperienced. There have been documented cases of visual loss related to the use of eyelash dyes and at least one death resulting from eyelash dyeing.

Despite the fact that there are no approved coloring agents for dyed eyelashes, salons continue to offer and promote the safety of this procedure. Some salons import eyelash dyes from other countries. Many of these dyes contain coal tars which are considered unsafe for use around the eyes. Other salons use hair dyes, despite FDA warnings.

The Bottom Line?

Even when performed by a professional, dyed eyelashes carry significant health risks and should be avoided. There are other ways to temporarily darken eyelashes that are far safer. If mascara isn’t an option, accent the eyes using a dark eyeliner or enhance lashes using an eyelash curler. Don’t take any chances with your vision. You only have one set of eyes.

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3 Responses to “Dyeing Eyelashes: What are the Health Risks?”
  1. rajeev bhargava Says:

    wonderful advise and again an excellent article full of good sound advice. it really isn’t worth the risk of getting blind by dying eyelashes just to please someone. health is the most important treasure we are born with and have to maintain throughout our entire lives. i love the last 2 sentences the best. I love this article.

  2. Melody SJAL Says:

    Wonderfully sound advice, thanks.

  3. Karen Gross Says:

    I have been considering some form of permanent eye make up. I have Parkinson’s and have a difficult time applying mascara and have almost given up on trying to apply eye liner. I suppose tattooed eye liner is dangerous as well?


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