Humans have been obsessed with eyelashes for hundreds of years. These tiny umbrella hairs that cover our eyes have been plucked, extended, colored and plastered for about as long as modern humans have been around.

Eyelash trends have long been at war with one another. Ancient Rome, for example, saw long lashes as a sign of chastity, whereas churches of the 1400’s condemned eyelashes as promiscuous. Things got pretty crazy in the 19th and 20th centuries, with some people so desperate for long lashes that they paid doctors to sew hair from their head onto their eyelids.

Fortunately, procedures these days have calmed down a bit, but the art of extending one’s lashes is still very much in vogue. Lash extensions have been experiencing a bit of a resurgence since their disappearance from the mainstream in the 80’s and 90’s. And while modern lash extensions are nowhere near as dangerous as literally threading a needle through your eyelids, there are still some risks associated with their use.

Eyelash extensions versus false eyelashes

Sometimes these two terms are used interchangeably, but they are different things. False eyelashes are generally applied as one solid strip of fake lashes and are not recommended for overnight wear. Eyelash extensions, on the other hand, are individual lashes made of silk, mink or synthetics. Extensions are applied one at a time and will last for some time.

Eyelash extensions and glasses

Many people who wear prescription eyeglasses avoid eyelash extensions because the lashes often brush up against the lenses, causing discomfort. You can avoid this problem by wearing contact lenses or purchasing eyeglasses that fit further down the bridge of your nose. (Does a new pair of glasses seem like an expensive purchase? You can get cheap online glasses from

Eyelash extensions can damage your real ones

Eyelash extensions adhere to individual natural eyelashes. Extensions sort of piggyback off your natural lashes, making them appear longer. Extensions place extra weight and pressure on your eyelids and natural lashes. Over time, this can easily cause damage to the hair follicles. Breakage near the follicle can inhibit future eyelash growth. This means that wearing lash extensions over time can cause your real lashes to thin.

You can limit this potential damage by avoiding application of lash extensions too close to your natural lash line and by only wearing extensions on special occasions.

Eyelash extensions don’t offer eye protection

Your eyelashes are a vital part of your eyes’ protection system. Eyelashes block debris and bacteria from making its way into your eyes. So you might think that lash extensions would boost this protection, but actually they don’t.

The adhesives in lash extensions attract bacteria and other pathogens. Bacteria will want to stick to the lashes, and from there germs can easily migrate down to your actual eyes. Lash extensions are also more likely to start off dirty, since you may have touched them before placing them on your eyes.

How to get more vibrant eyelashes

Still determined to enhance your eyelashes? Then at least do so in the safest way possible. There will always be risks with cosmetics, but you can mitigate those risks by exercising caution.

See a professional

Going to a professional salon for eyelash extensions will cut back on the risk of low-quality adhesives and allergic reactions. Many cheap adhesives contain formaldehyde, which is not ideal at the best of times and can be dangerous for people with allergies.

A professional is also less likely to make a mistake during the application process. If you feel any stinging, burning or itching during application, speak up and have the adhesive type changed. Getting eyelash extensions should never cause discomfort or pain. If it does, it’s a sign that something is wrong.

Take proper care of your skin and eyes while you wear lash extensions. Your hands carry a lot of bacteria, so avoid rubbing your eyes and always wash your hands before applying makeup. And finally, if you forgo eyelash extensions and opt instead for full-on fake eyelashes, be sure to remove them when you go to bed. Unlike extensions, fake eyelashes are not safe to wear for more than one day.

Use mascara

Many people can get similar results with high-quality mascara. Before you commit to lash extensions, try some high-end mascara. While mascara does also present the risk of infection, it is generally less likely to cause a problem than lash extensions. It’s often cheaper, too. Be sure to replace mascara tubes every three months or so and never share applicator brushes with other people.

Choose glasses wisely

You can get an eyelash boost from your glasses alone! Curling your lashes and choosing a dark black frame can help your lashes really pop. For general tips on pairing makeup with glasses, check out our handy guide.

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