The beauty trends and technology for lashes have changed and increased so much over the last century, decade, even years. There are so many different things you can do to boost, lengthen or enhance your eyelashes, but is it all healthy for our eyes?

In Dr. Danielle Gordon’s opinion, no.

“Over my career I’ve seen a steady increase in the percentage of my patients who choose to engage in lash enhancement methods, which include lash serums, false lashes, and more commonly, lash extensions,” says Dr. Danielle. “I’ll be completely honest here – I’m not a big fan of false eyelashes and all it takes is one look at them under a microscope to see why.”

False lashes are magnets for dirt and debris, bacterial residue and, often, demodex (a mite that tends to live along the lash line).

But does this mean we have to stick to our naturally given lashes even if they may be short, thin, and not what we want them to be?

“I do completely understand the desire to wear [false lashes] – thick long lashes are simply so pretty and do wonders for enhancing our eyes,” Dr. Danielle says

So what does Dr. Danielle suggest if we are going to go down the road of fake lashes and lash extensions?

“Taking good care of our lids underneath the lashes is the absolute most important thing!” she says. “For fake lashes, make sure you remove all remnants of the glue and properly clean the lashes themselves if you plan to reapply them in the future.”

Here are some guidelines from Dr. Danielle for maintaining healthy lash extensions:

After engaging a trained technician to properly install them, make sure you do the following:

  1. Avoid mascara of all types, but especially waterproof formulas. Using both will shorten the lifespan of your extensions since removing mascara will weaken the bond between your natural and false lashes. Additionally, waterproof formulas have ingredients in them that will weaken the bonding adhesive.
  2. Avoid waterproof eyeliner – it is harder to remove properly and also has oils that weaken the lash to extension bond.
  3. Clean thoroughly with lash extension-safe products. Hygiene is key! For lid cleansing, we recommend the We Love Eyes Tea Tree Water with the companion brush. The formula is fantastic at gently washing away makeup and the brush can thoroughly clean the eyelid margin without damaging your extensions. We also have other We Love Eyes cleansers and oils for natural lash care – they are incredibly effective and are also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free, and gluten-free leading to a good side effect profile.

“Unfortunately, lash serums can also be problematic,” says Dr. Danielle.

The main chemical ingredients in lash serums, even over-the-counter versions, are prostalglandin analogues. Prostalglandins are found naturally in the body and function to propagate inflammation. Consequently, using lash serums can result in swollen lids and dry, red, and itchy eyes. You may also notice darkening of the eyelid skin and of the iris in those who have hazel or light brown eyes, and a reduction of orbital fat around the eye causing a sunken eye appearance.

“I think the biggest take-home message is to listen to what your body is telling you,” says Dr. Danielle. “If you are using one of the above methods to enhance your lashes and you’re experiencing discomfort, redness, and irritation of your eyes and/or lids, know that your body is not in harmony with these products and you may be causing chronic problems. If you are already experiencing these signs and symptoms at an acute or chronic level, make sure you connect with your local eye care professional to put you on the path to wellness.”