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 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Megan*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.