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Eyelash lifts: Process, benefits and risks

woman undergoing an eyelash lift procedure

What is an eyelash lift?

An eyelash lift is a beauty treatment performed by a licensed professional. Eyelash lifts give you fuller, curlier eyelashes for up to eight weeks, depending how quickly your lashes grow. Your lashes may look bigger and brighter following an eyelash lift, causing you to look more awake.

Like a perm for your hair, an eyelash lift uses special chemicals to curl your lashes. Treatment starts at the lash line and is often accompanied by eyelash tinting to darken and thicken your lashes.

Why get an eyelash lift?

Sometimes called a “lash perm,” an eyelash lift offers a longer-lasting alternative to products that enhance, brighten or curl your eyelashes. (Think mascara, eyelash curlers, thickening serums like Latisse, and false eyelashes or lash extensions.)

While these other methods require repeated use for a consistent look, an eyelash lift lasts six to eight weeks and requires little maintenance during that time. 

SEE RELATED: Magnetic eyelashes

What happens during an eyelash lift procedure?

Before you arrive at the salon, be sure to wash your face, remove any makeup and take out your contact lenses. You may also be advised to stop wearing mascara several days before your procedure to help prevent any residue from building up.

During the appointment, your technician will start with a consultation to ensure they understand what kind of curl you want: soft and natural or tight and dramatic. They’ll also help you understand what’s possible based on your natural eye shape and lash length. 

When that’s settled, the technician will start by thoroughly cleaning the area around your eyes. Then they’ll glue a silicone pad or curling rod to each of your upper eyelids, curl your lashes up over the pad or rod, and glue your lashes in place. 

Next, your technician will apply a series of chemical solutions to your eyelashes to lift them and set their curl. Make sure to keep your eyes closed tightly during the procedure to prevent any chemicals from getting in your eyes.

The procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour from start to finish, and typically costs around $75 to $150.

What are the risks of an eyelash lift?

While an eyelash lift comes with benefits, there are a number of potential risks, especially for people with sensitive skin and eyes. Side effects can include:

  • Chemical burns or corneal scarring if the perming solution enters the eye

  • Allergic reaction to the glue or perming solution, which may present as skin irritation, itching, burning, rash, blisters, inflammation and/or redness

  • Dry or watery eyes

  • Brittle-feeling eyelashes 

If you have sensitive skin, ask your salon if they offer patch testing. This will allow you to check for irritation or an allergic reaction to the adhesives and chemicals used before your procedure. If you have a reaction to any type of cosmetic product, contact your doctor.

Finally, even though it’s not a safety concern, there’s always the risk that you won’t like the end result of your lash lift.

SEE RELATED: The best mascara for sensitive eyes

Can anyone get an eyelash lift?

Due to the chemicals and adhesives used during the procedure, eyelash lifts are not recommended for everyone. 

If you have any of the following conditions or experience any of these symptoms on a regular basis, consult your doctor before getting a lash lift:

Note that your eyelashes must be at least 4 mm long for a lash lift to be effective. If you’ve had eye surgery recently — such as an eyelid lift, double eyelid surgery or LASIK — you should wait at least six to 12 months before having an eyelash lift. 

What aftercare is needed after an eyelash lift?

Since it takes a full day to set, the first 24 hours after your eyelash lift are crucial. Make sure to: 

  • Keep your eyelashes dry – Don’t let them get wet or steamy. 

  • Keep your lashes clean – Don’t wear any eye makeup

  • Sleep on your back – Avoid sleeping on your face or side.

To maintain your lash lift: 

  • Brush your eyelashes each day with a clean spoolie.

  • Condition your lashes a few times a week with coconut oil or castor oil.

  • Avoid waterproof eye makeup, and stick to oil-free makeup removers.

Does eyelash tinting enhance an eyelash lift?

Eyelash tinting is a 15-minute procedure, during which semi-permanent dye is painted onto the eyelashes to make them look thicker, darker and fuller. Like regular hair dye, lash tinting lasts about three to six weeks. It is said to be particularly striking on those with naturally blonde or red lashes.

There are currently no production or use standards for the dyes used in eyelash tinting, and no dyes are FDA-approved specifically for the purpose of lash tinting. 

Just as people can react to semi-permanent hair dye when getting their hair colored, eyelash tinting dyes can also occasionally lead to allergic reactions and infections. If you experience a reaction or side effects after an eyelash lift or tint, contact your eye doctor or dermatologist. 

Together, eyelash lifts and eyelash tinting can dramatically change your look, causing your eyes to appear brighter and more open. 

READ NEXT: How do you treat an eye infection from makeup?

The not-so hidden dangers of lash lift. Eyedolatry. September 2017.

Lash lift and tint. Blanchard Valley Health System. Accessed June 2021.

Is there a medication to thicken eyelashes? Mayo Clinic. May 2020.

Lash lifts are the low-maintenance alternative to lash extensions. Elle. June 2021.

What is a lash lift? Here's everything you need to know. Good Housekeeping. September 2020.

The use of preservatives in dry eye drops. Clinical Ophthalmology. August 2019.

Know the risks of eyebrow and eyelash enhancement. American Academy of Ophthalmology. December 2019.

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