Is Eyelash Perming Dangerous?

by Gail Cohen

Since the dawn of time, women and men have tried dramatic techniques to enhance their looks. Of late, a trendy new idea has become wildly popular around the globe: permed lashes. This time-saving eye enhancer has plenty of admirers and while the Federal Drug Administration does not sanction lash perms, that has not stopped cosmeticians from offering the service at beauty shops. Both women and men are asking for lash perms. Before you decide to join them, make an informed decision.


Getting perfectly curled lashes can be accomplished in several ways. The first requires treating the lashes with a special glue, and then wrapping the lashes over mini-rollers made of foam rubber. A perming solution is applied to the lashes using a small brush. A setting solution saturates the lashes for around five minutes to complete the process. Method two calls for using heated clips rather than spiral rollers to hold the eyelashes in place, then the chemical solution is brushed over the lashes. Some cosmetologists recommend applying permanent dye at the same time, so this step adds from one to two coats of tint to the process. When the clips are removed, the eyelashes can’t be exposed to water for around four hours; if they are, the perm won’t hold. A third recipe for eyelash perming calls for priming the lashes with oil-free makeup remover, allowing the eyes to dry for at least ten minutes, then winding the lashes on rods (small, medium and large are sold to cover all lash lengths). Glue is applied first, then a perming lotion followed by a setting lotion to complete the process. A nourishing eye lotion may be applied.

Time Frame

Expect to spend anywhere from five minutes to four hours having your eyelashes permed. The amount of time is contingent upon the curling method your cosmetologist employs, the number of pre-perming steps, the number of curling agents (some are three-step series) and the time required to cure, dry and protect the eye after perming. Check with your makeup professional before starting the process to ascertain the waiting time. The cost of having your eyelashes permed has more to do with where the job is done than the number of steps involved. Typical charges range anywhere from $30 to $60, and this doesn’t include the addition of a tinting agent as an extra step. Women report that perms have lasted between two and four months.


If you decide to have your eyelashes permed, you can look forward to saving time while looking terrific. Once you have the perm, you won't have to spend time using manual or heated lash curlers to achieve the look you want. Plumper lashes will noticeably boost the appearance of your eyes (some say lash curling makes eyes look wide awake at all times). Your lashes should stay curled and glamorous in the most extreme climates.


Unfortunately, the dangers you may encounter when having an eyelash perm include: potential eye irritation from chemicals; the potential for eye infection; mistakes made by beauty operators who have not received adequate training; over-processed, fried eyelash ends; lash fall-out; sensory reactions to the odor of the solutions and allergic reactions that may affect other parts of the body. Experts recommend a patch test before the treatment is started. They also warn against applying curling and tinting products at the same time and suggest that contact lens wearer think carefully before submitting to the process. Unstable chemicals (due to age or improper mixing), premature eyelash fall-out and blindness are potential risks. This process is not approved by the FDA.


There is no shortage of beauty-enhancing products on the global market and today’s appearance-conscious male and female is less risk-averse than a generation ago, so it is up to you to decide, whether or not eyelash perming is wise for you. No deaths have as yet been reported as a direct result of using an eyelash perm, but this is not an endorsement for its use. Be aware of the fact that while some manufacturers of eyelash perm products will not sell their kits to cosmetologists without proof of licensing, globalization has made obtaining them on the Internet a snap. Additionally, audiovisual instructional aids are often just an hour long; this may not be adequate training for some cosmetologists. The bottom line is that most of the learning for practitioners takes place by doing applications on customers. This does not bode well for women and men who have booked an appointment for a lash perm with a newbie. Be forthright. Ask your cosmetologist how long they have been doing eyelash perms and if you’re uncomfortable, ask for a more seasoned person to do your lash perm. Make sure you are given a patch test. Ask specifically what the process entails and what you can expect. Don't double-up on services, but if you elect to have your lashes tinted and permed, be certain your practitioner takes twice as many precautions.

About the Author

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.