Posted by Megan Hatch

The Difference Between Irritations and Allergies

The Difference Between Irritations and Allergies

If you’ve been in the lash industry for much time at all, you have probably heard about or seen a few allergic reactions to the eyelash extension adhesive.  Many times though, what clients think is an allergic reaction is actually only an irritation.  There are a few key distinctions between the two.  Knowing the difference between irritations and allergies will better help you educate your clients and ensure their safety.

What is an allergy?

An allergy is an oversensitivity of the immune system to something that many people have normal interactions with daily.  Symptoms of an allergy to the adhesive may include red puffy eyes as well as itchiness.  These symptoms will last until the adhesive is removed and can worsen with time and exposure.  Think of somebody you know with a peanut allergy – each time they are exposed to peanuts their reaction gets worse and worse.  This is because our bodies’ immune system is constantly adapting and building up antibodies to fight off the allergen.  The more your body is exposed to the allergen the stronger and more dramatic the allergic reaction.  For this reason, you should not put lashes on clients with prior allergic reactions to the adhesive.   

What is an irritation?

An irritation can mirror many of the same symptoms of an allergy, so it can be very hard to decipher what is happening.  Irritations usually stem from the fumes given off by the adhesive as it solidifies or dries.  Individual gas molecules of cyanoacrylate leave the adhesive and can cause red puffy eyes and make the sclera (the white part of your eye) red and itchy.  The difference is that irritations usually don’t last longer than 24 hours and should get significantly better as time passes.  One exception to this is if your client has seasonal allergies.  Lash extensions can contribute to the symptoms of the seasonal allergies when you already have very sensitive, irritated eyes.  

Treating an Allergic Reaction

If your client thinks it is an allergic reaction to the adhesive and not just an irritation, they can take an antihistamine medication that will help the symptoms subside before the lashes can be properly removed. If the antihistamine works you can be confident that it was an allergic reaction.  

Limiting Irritations

Limiting the amount of fumes to which your clients are exposed will best help you recognize the difference between an allergic reaction and an irritation.  If you can ensure that you used proper techniques and followed safety procedures, irritations should be limited and less severe.    

So what can you do?  

  1. The first and easiest thing is to only apply lashes in a well ventilated room.  If you are working in a small room, it is best to open windows and doors to allow for good air flow and possibly use a fan in the room.
  2. Use the least amount of eyelash glue for sensitive eyes as possible.  This will make it so you and your clients are exposed to less fumes in general and also make it so the lashes look more natural.  Both pluses.
  3. Use the nano mister frequently!  The nano mister helps cure (dry) the adhesive.  The sooner you can cure the adhesive the better, so less fumes will be given off.
  4. Remind your client to keep their eyes closed during application.  It’s important to be transparent in the lash application process.  Tell your clients about how long it should take and let them know why it’s important to keep their eyes closed.  If they understand, they are much more likely to follow your instructions.

Even when following all of these guidelines irritations still occur because eyes are very sensitive.  Take your clients’ concerns seriously, but don’t assume that it must be an allergy.  In most cases it is only an obnoxious eye irritation and will subside in a few hours.  As always, leave your comments and let me know what questions you have for me.  



*It is always best to consult a doctor when medical related issues are involved. The above is just a guideline to help eliminate irritation and identify allergies.  

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • I’ve had the same problem at Michelle S! Been getting my lashes done for about 2/3 years now, never had a problem. I just got them put back on after about 3 weeks without and I woke up the next morning to puffy eyelids and a little bit of sinus pressure pain. Not sure if the puffiness is from sleeping weird with them, like extra pressure on my eyelids against the pillow, or from scrubbing makeup off pretty vigorously prior to my appointment. Waiting to see if the puffiness subsides by tomorrow, if not I have to get them removed ?

    Geena on
  • Hi everybody. Is anybody answering to the post? I’ve had the same reactions. I am an eyelash technician for about six months already. I wrk for a business that only dedicates to eyelashes and we have a lot of clients everyday. I Started noticing a couple of months back that every night my nose would get stuffy and just block and I couldn’t breathe. I didn’t know why but started noticing that it wa only doing this the days that I went to wrk(since I have a pt). I m still the same but I want to know if there’s anything I can do to prevent this. I do use a mask when I apply them. I thought it was the barbecide the one that gave me the reaction because when I was doing nails I would experience it too, but it has just gotten worse. When I was at cosmetology school I never experienced this problem with breathing.

    Julie on
  • I am a eyelash tech for three years now and 5 times out of 10 experience red eye and a difficult time breathing sometimes I wear a mask but I noticed when I wear the mask I get extremely hot?…do you lash techs experience the same? What do you do that helps you?

    Dee on
  • About a month ago I tried eyelash extensions and I’m not sure if it was an allergic reaction or an irritation, but my eyes were extremely red and itchy. I went to my doctor and she treated me for allergies and pink eye. I took antihistamines as well as used the eyedrops and nothing was improving. I couldn’t take it any longer (it had been about 3-4 days) and finally took them off myself using coconut oil. I have a past with having sensitive skin though, so I decided to try again using the sensitive adhesive as well as a tape for sensitive skin about a week ago. They didn’t hurt at all afterwards and felt awesome up until the next morning. I woke up and my left eye felt crusty and was red and itchy, but my right eye was completely fine. I waited a couple days to try and see if the effects would subside and improve, but they seemed to only worsen with time :( I ended up having to remove them, which was unfortunate because my right eye was fine! My question is, why was my left eye having problems, when my right eye was okay? Was I having an allergic reaction or a bad irritation? I just want some other people’s opinions and insights on this because I’m frustrated with this. :(

    Lily on
  • Hi all. I was perusing the web looking for eyelash articles and came across this one. Little advice. If it burns, itches, flakes, causes sneezing, tearing, or pain- that’s not a good sign. You have those responses for a reason and likely it’s a reaction to a chemical in the adhesive or the eyelash material. So switch things up and make sure your lash tech is using the right products for you! @drnikkihill

    @drnikkihill on


Leave a comment



Sold Out