HOUSTON – Dr. Bridgitte Shen Lee of Vision Optique said eyelash extensions are so popular among her patients, she has to explain to patients multiple times a day the risks that come with false lashes.
The problem is, some infections can lead to permanently losing lashes and she says women are not properly cleaning them.
In a perfect world, she said women should not be wearing makeup on the extensions, but she recognizes that’s not a realistic request.
“They don't want to ruin their lashes and pay the $50 extra to go get a refill. So, they tend not to clean them as much, as well at the end of the day. Now, over time at the base of the lashes all that accumulation of makeup, of debris, becomes a breeding ground for bacteria,” Lee said.
Some women don't ever remove all the residue, and it can lead to a complicated problem.
“Lice has, I call it a cousin for people to understand easily. It's mites, it's mites that live at the end of eyelashes. So, when the lids and lash margin are not being cleaned on a regular basis and when the hygiene is not being maintained over time, those mites can overpopulate,” Lee said.
The mites are called Demodex, and if you have them, symptoms can be severe.
“The top symptoms for women with eyelash extensions is that if their eyelid margin is itchy, they're just intensely itchy, most likely they have Demodex and that has to be removed, (just like when they treat for the lice) that needs to be done manually,” Lee said.
The treatment is done in a doctor's office and sometimes takes as long as two months, according to Lee.
“If women have waited too long and the infection and inflammation is pretty severe, once eyelash loss happens, once the lash is lost. We cannot grow them back,” Lee said.
It's important for everyone to remove makeup at the end of the day, but women with eyelash extensions have to take extra steps to make sure they really clean the base of the lashes.
On top of that, the weight of extensions can be problematic, Lee said many women never fully blink while wearing the lashes and that leads to problematic dry eyes.