Much like a fresh set of gel nails or an eyebrow threading, eyelash extensions have become a staple in many a modern woman’s beauty regime.
With far less smudgy potential than a humble mascara wand, lash extensions create the illusion of lustrous fluttering eyelashes batting above huge movie star eyes. And I do understand the draw.
However, perhaps it’s best to consider the hygiene risks before hopping into the beautician’s chair too often. Risks which sound pretty damn grim.
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Some optometrists have reported a not exactly alluring increase in incidents of lash lice, referred to medically as Demodex.
Those who regularly use eyelash extensions have been urged to think about the last time they cleaned them, as reported by ABC7, with a lack of cleaning leading to a buildup of bacteria.
Symptoms of Demodex may include itchiness, redness and inflammation. Much like the common head lice, eyelash lice live on the oily hair follicle and can be transferred from person to person by jumping.
Dr. Sairah Malik told ABC7 how the buildup of bacteria can be attributed to lack of cleaning:
Generally the idea when you have eyelash extensions is that people are afraid to kind of touch them or wash them because they’re afraid the eyelash will fall out.
Dr. Malik said that keeping eyelids clean was vital for lash extension users, recommending a tea tree base cleanser: tea tree oil can be antibacterial, and is a popular essential oil treatment for hair, skin and nails.
According to Dr. Malik:
We recommend tea tree base cleanser. Any cleanser that has a diluted form of tea tree, and it is a good idea to use on a daily basis.
Dr. Malik also advised people to ensure they are giving their eyelids a well-needed break from extensions when possible.
Last year, a woman by the name of Ashley came forward to share her Demodex story with WFTV9, warning others who opt for eyelash extensions without a second thought.
Ashley awoke one morning with swollen, irritated eyes after having had eyelash extensions several times. After putting her lashes under the microscope, Dr. Keshini Parbhu, of the Orlando Eye Institute’s Dry Eye Help Center, could see the lice living on the oils of the lashes.
Although they can be found anywhere on the body, lice reportedly tend to head towards to eyelashes and eyebrows, with overpopulation leading to infection.
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.