What's Safer -- Lash Extensions, False Lashes Or Neither?

We quizzed two experts about the pros and cons of two popular false lash options -- false eyelash kits and lash extensions.

You don't need an expert to see that in terms of price and convenience, there's already a clear winner -- store-bought false eyelash kits are cheap as chips and take minutes to pop on if you're a pro.

Eyelash extensions, however, are far more pricey -- upwards of about $150 -- and take about one and a half hours for a professional to apply at the salon.

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But falsies are temporary, meaning you have to apply, remove and reapply all the time while extensions last weeks -- suddenly $150 is a small price to pay for convenience.

Still, you only have to Google 'false lash fail' to see that there are risks with both methods. Maybe it was an allergic reaction to the glue used to apply the lashes or a bad experience at a salon.

So, is one ‘safer’ than the other?

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Youtuber Alexandra Thomas' first experience with eyelash extensions resulted in a painful, itchy case of conjunctivitis. Image: Youtube/Learning To Be Fearless.
The eyebrow artist

Lana Tarek is the founder of Lana Tarek Eyebrow Specialists and is a brow and lash expert.

"They're both pretty safe," Tarek told 10 daily, but she prefers lash extensions over falsies.

Falsies are a cheaper, at-home option but Tarek said that if they're worn every day you might find your natural lashes falling out due to the daily wear and tear.

She's also had clients come in with clumps of false lash glue stuck in their natural lashes -- incidentally, the fix for that is a little bit of coconut oil brushed through lashes with a spoolie, which is a mascara wand, minus the mascara.

A packet of false lashes (left) and a technician applying lash extensions. Image: Getty.

"Lash extensions, in comparison, are a lot more natural, softer, and lighter on natural lashes," she said.

The extensions are made from several materials including mink, synthetic, or even horsehair -- each salon has their own preference. Tarek says her clients love mink as it's the thinnest and most natural looking.

She did point out that a good set of lash extensions does depend on the skill and knowledge of the technician who applies them.

"You need a professional who knows how to apply the false lash to the natural lash at the correct angle and using the correct amount of glue," she explained.

The optometrist

Dr Jim Kokkinakis, senior lecturer at UNSW and optometrist at Sydney's The Eye Practice told 10 daily that there's a whole host of risks involved when we apply things like false lashes and extensions to our eyes.

"Personally I would avoid both. Some medical studies ... conclude that the majority of people that get eyelash extensions get all sorts of complications and yet many still persist." he said.

Youtube vlogger Filo had been getting eyelash extensions for months without any issues -- until her natural lashes began to fall out. Image: Youtube/Filosophy.

Dry or watery eyes, itchy eyelids, a burning sensation and eyelid swelling and pain are just a few of the results of a bad lash experience.

That's not all -- mucous discharge, temporary blurry vision and misdirected lashes (where they grow in different directions) can also occur. Oh, and your natural lashes could fall out, too, according to Kokkinakis.

While serious long-term problems aren't common Kokkinakis did tell 10 daily that he has seen a number of women come in with debilitating cases of dry eye.

"This can be extremely difficult to treat and ultimately get under control," he said.

Although he hasn't been faced with any severe infections so far he's come across a few cases of eyelid inflammation -- "the patient looks like they've gone a round with Mike Tyson," he said.

He also mentioned that beauticians who apply lashes have been known to suffer from asthmatic conditions due to inhaling the glue that is used.

Pip Judge had false lashes applied by a mobile beautician which left the rims and inside lower lids of her eyes "red, burning and sore." Image: Alistair Heap.
The final verdict

At the end of the day, it really is up to you.

If you're a slave to your falsies or extensions -- we hear you -- there is something you can do to keep your eyes and lashes in good health. Kokkinakis recommends regular use of eyelid hygiene wipes, which are sold at some pharmacies and optometrists -- it's probably best to run this by your lash technician first.

Tarek's tips for keeping lash extensions looking and feeling healthy are to avoid wetting them for the first 24 hours, don't apply mascara or makeup to lashes, and brushing them with a spoolie morning and night.

Sticking to these lash rules can help them last from three to four -- and even up to six -- weeks.

Feature image: Getty.