Let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a set of luscious long eyelashes?
But if you keep asking yourself “why are my eyelash extensions itchy?“, it may be because you’re having an allergic reaction.
Lash extensions come in various textures, lengths, and colors and may be made from either synthetic materials or authentic human hair. Extensions are glued to your natural lashes to make them seem longer and fuller.
But some people may have an allergic response to the materials used in lash extensions (such as eyelash extension glue) or develop other eye health issues (like lash mites!) even after years of getting extensions without issue.
If this is you, get your extensions removed by a professional as soon as you can and seek medical attention if an allergic reaction develops or you suspect you have lash mites.
To learn more about the various causes of itchy extensions and what you can do about them, read on, I cover eight different reasons you might have itchy eyelash extensions!
1. Exposure to formaldehyde fumes
Formaldehyde is a common colorless, smelly gas used in construction and made products. It is one of the #1 reasons for itchy lash extensions and developing contact dermatitis.
Unfortunately, formaldehyde is used for preservatives, keratin for hair, and disinfectants. The formaldehyde in adhesives like lash glue can trigger allergic reactions, lead to eye infections, and possibly the loss of natural lashes.
The truth is that no eyelash glue is formaldehyde-free, despite the claims many brands and lash studios make.
This is because even with hypoallergenic adhesives if the glue contains cyanoacrylate, it will break down and release a trace quantity of formaldehyde over time.
Obviously “formaldehyde-free” lash extension glue is still the better option as the exposure to formaldehyde is less than traditional lash glue, make sure you always get the best eyelash extension glue possible.
How to minimize the risk of exposure to formaldehyde fumes
To protect yourself from the harmful effects of formaldehyde fumes during your lash extension treatment follow these steps:
Get the air flowing
Make sure the room maintains a steady flow of air. Allowing some fresh air into the area by opening the windows is necessary. A carbon-filtered air purifier is an excellent option to clean the air further and eliminate toxic compounds.
Use a protective face mask
If you can, ask to wear a face mask during your appointment. Masks made of carbon filter material are the best choice. Always keep your mask’s filter in a cool, dry area between uses, and replace it regularly.
Use low-fume eyelash adhesive
The most popular form of cyanoacrylate used for eyelash extension adhesive is ethyl cyanoacrylate. Although it dries rapidly and adheres tenaciously, it often produces irritating fumes and a strong chemical smell.
Use low-fume eyelash adhesives, which are gentler formulations that forego speed and binding strength. Those with heightened sensitivities might consider making this tradeoff.
Force-cure your lash adhesives after the appointment
It takes around four hours for lash glue to completely cure your eyelash extensions.
During that time, the glue might be weakened by contact with water or steam, leading to premature lash loss.
Most lash salons will use moisture at the end of your session to force-cure the lash glue. After the recommended curing time has passed, you can wash your eyelashes anytime.
Close your eyes during your appointment
It may irritate the eyes if you open them in the middle of your lash appointment, particularly if the lash glue has just been applied and hasn’t had time to dry. The glue’s fumes can irritate your eyes.
Symptoms of formaldehyde exposure
Some persons may have health consequences while breathing air containing formaldehyde at concentrations greater than 0.1 ppm.
Some symptoms include the following:
- Eye discomfort, including burning and redness
- Watery or Bloodshot eyes
- Skin irritation
2. Allergic reactions
As with other contact allergies, or contact dermatitis, an allergic response to lash extensions is possible. It may take a couple of minutes to hours after the last artist has placed the extensions for symptoms to become noticeable.
An eyelash extension allergic reaction can affect one eye or both eyes. If both eyes are affected, the severity may vary. Most people are sensitive to the adhesive used to secure false eyelashes. When the glue gets on the eyelid or in the eye, it might trigger an allergic response.
Inflammation of the eye and conjunctiva may be caused by formaldehyde. Some people may also be sensitive to other ingredients found in cosmetics, such as benzoic acid or lead.
Typical symptoms include:
- Eye discharge
- Itchiness on the eyelid
Wait a few hours before washing your face after getting your eyelash extensions done to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction.
The symptoms might be managed at home in case of a minor allergy. Antihistamines, eye drops, hydrocortisone lotion, or cold compresses are all potential treatment options to use at home.
See a doctor if your symptoms persist or worsen. A medical professional is in the best position to determine the extent of the response and give appropriate therapy.
3. Poor application technique
If your lash specialist does a poor job applying your extensions, you may experience discomfort and itching shortly after your session.
One common error lash technicians make is attaching too many lash fibers to your natural lashes. This may cause pain or discomfort around the lash line due to the added weight.
Once your eyelashes have grown out a little, which may take up to a week, the discomfort and itching caused by having too many lashes bonded together can become unbearable.
This can also happen if your lash artist attaches the extensions directly to the skin of your eyelid. To guarantee that your false lashes look not only fantastic but also comfortable, do your homework and find an expert lash tech with excellent technique.
Research your potential lash specialist before scheduling an appointment with them. Verify that they are properly licensed and investigate their reputation by reading through recent reviews written about them.
If you’re applying your extensions at home, do your research on how to apply lashes properly.
4. Sharp, pointy base of extensions
Most lashe extensions have a pointed, needle-like base.
This can cause them to poke and scrape your eyelid, mainly while you sleep, especially if you’re a side sleeper or toss and turn a lot.
If your extensions are improperly sized for your eye shape you may experience more poking than usual.
The intense itching might make it hard to keep from touching your eyes, which can irritate them and cause swelling.
5. Dry eye
Dry eyes probably can also lead to itchy feeling eyelashes. Here are some possible causes:
- Drying eye makeup or skincare products with strong chemicals like retinol
- Not washing with an eyelash shampoo specifically for made for lash extensions
- Not using an eyelash serum to condition lashes
Always use an oil-free, non-irritating gel-based skincare product after getting eyelash extensions. Use caution and be gentle while washing the area around your eyes.
False lashes are associated with an increased risk of blepharitis.
Luckily, blepharitis is not harmful to your eyes or eyelids longterm but it sure is irritating when you have it.
Inflammation is often caused by a buildup of microorganisms on your skin, especially at the lash line where eyelashes grow from. Although everyone has germs around their eyes, using lash extensions and other cosmetics may increase the bacteria in that area.
Symptoms often include:
- Redness around the eyelids
- Dry, itching, and inflamed eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Foamy tears
- Eye crustiness
Causes of inflammation include:
- Sloppy adhesive application
- Lack of proper cleansing and lash maintenance
- Improperly removing the lash extensions
Your lash salon should always maintain a clean work environment.
The eye region is one of the most sensitive portions of the human body, making it all the more important to find a well trained lash tech that follows proper procedures while applying your lashes.
Tips for lash artists to help clients avoid infection:
If you are a lash artist, here are some tips to help cut down on possible infections with clients.
- Wash your hands with antibacterial soap for at least 20 seconds between each client, and then dry them completely.
- Single-use beauty equipment should be discarded promptly.
- Disinfect your work area routinely with antibacterial wipes.
- Use disposable applicator tools.
- Show your client how to clean their lashes and encourage them to cleanse and brush their lashes daily.
8. Improper aftercare
Itching and discomfort are potential side effects of not caring for your eyelash extensions properly after they have been applied. Especially since this will help your new lashes last.
Aftercare tips to maintain your beautiful lashes:
- Make sure you don’t touch your eyes or pull your extensions.
- Stay away from direct heat. What out when opening a hot stove so you don’t singe your lashes! (I’ve done this and it sucks)
- Use oil-free products.
- Clean and brush your lashes every day.
- Keep a back-sleeping position.
- Avoid eyelash curlers, heated or otherwise.
Timeline & causes
Here’s a typical sequence of events that leads to the diagnosis of itchy lash extensions:
Itchy lash extensions after 4 hours
Itchiness after four hours may be caused by chemical burns when eye pads have moved and rubbed the eyes during the treatment. Using cortisone cream can assist in mild cases involving lash extensions and adhesives.
If you notice irritation, redness, and discomfort, use a small amount of cortisone cream to relieve the symptoms.
Itchy lash extensions after 24 hours
After 24 hours, if your lash extensions are still itchy, you may have developed an allergy to the glue used to attach them.
If your itching, redness, or swollen eyelids have persisted for more than a few hours, or if they seem to be getting worse, see a doctor.
Itchy lash extensions after 48 hours
Itchy lash extensions after 48 hours may be due to improper application rather than an allergy to the lash adhesive.
It’s also possible this might happen if the customer has preexisting sensitivities that weren’t considered throughout the application process.
Itchy lash extensions after 1 week
A lack of adequate aftercare or unhealthy habits like tugging at the lashes or touching the eyes may lead to itchiness in lash extensions after a week.
Don’t freak out if you experience irritation or redness around your eyes after applying the extensions.
Let them sit for a day, then give them a little brush and rinse. Talk to your lash artist if the issue continues, and have them recommend a solution.
Itchy lash extensions after 3 weeks
Itchy lash extensions may occur weeks after getting lash extensions due to allergic reactions or incorrect home care. In most cases, patients will notice that their eyelids have swollen and become itchy.
See a doctor for any symptoms that persist for more than 48 hours. Especially if you experience serious symptoms, like severe swelling, discomfort, or itching.
Key takeaways on why are my eyelash extensions itchy
It’s not typical for eyelash extensions to irritate the eye. Incorrect application, poor aftercare, or cheap materials are to blame for any irritation or pain you could feel after having false eyelashes placed.
Home remedies for itchy eyelashes may provide relief in as little as a few days. Get medical help if the itch persists, worsens, or comes back.
If itching becomes unbearable or distressing, it’s time to seek medical help and possibly get your lashes removed or learn how to remove eyelash extensions safely yourself.
Laura is a beauty expert with 5 years prior experience working in cosmetics and lash salons. When not writing you can find her experimenting with the trending makeup looks, or reading a good book snuggled up with her French Bulldog Max. Laura is currently a contributing writer and Beauty Editor at BeatyStack.