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Experts Warn of the Dangers of Eyelash Extensions

Update Date: May 09, 2013 01:01 PM EDT

Women have been attempting to enhance their eyelashes since before Cleopatra was alive. Today, a popular method consists of eyelash extensions, which are synthetic fibers that are glued onto natural eyelashes in an effort to make them longer and fuller. However, the price for beauty may be allergic reactions and eyelashes falling out.

According to Consumer Reports, eyelash extensions can lead to irritation to the cornea or to the conjunctiva, as a result of the synthetic fibers themselves or the glues that are used to fasten them. Actress Kristen Chenoweth recently made an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman to discuss just this possibility. Having just received eyelash extensions, she appeared with sunglasses before removing them, saying, "I swelled up and I'm sneezing...It looks like I have lips on my eyelids."

Eyelash extensions can also lead to a condition called traction alopecia. Because of the pressure placed on the natural eyelashes, the hair can fall out - which, in turn, can cause a cycle in which women feel like they look better with false eyelashes. Because of the damage to the strand of hair, eyelashes can grow more slowly or stop growing altogether.

Women who decide to use temporary eyelash extensions instead of the salon-applied ones may also run into trouble. By ripping off the extensions, women may end up ripping out their actual eyelashes, resulting in the same traction alopecia. In addition, the temporary eyelashes may trap contaminants like dirt and bacteria.

While people who may have an allergy to certain glues, like people who have an allergy to latex, may try to read the list of materials used in the product, many glues do not actually list their ingredients. Permanent damage can also be made to a person's eye if the extensions are not applied correctly, Fox News reports.

So what to do for fuller lashes? If you are really determined to get them, experts recommend seeing an allergist so you can be aware if you have an allergy to formaldehyde or latex. Otherwise, you can just stick with mascara.

ABC News reports that the Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions says that hypoallergenic adhesives are available and that the extensions are not dangerous.

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