Michelle Calder, O.D., is the owner and lead optometrist at Urban Optiques in Northville, MI. 

Many people turn to eyelash tinting as an alternative to mascara. It serves as a longer-term approach to distinguished lashes, while the daily routine of applying mascara can be a hassle.

Here’s how the process works. An esthetician will use the color tint you choose, apply a protective cream and cotton pad under your eyes to prevent the dye from staining your skin, and then brush the tint onto your lashes. After about 10 minutes, she will remove the excess dye from your lashes and skin. The process is usually painless, unless some dye accidentally seeps into your eyes. If this happens, immediately flush the eye out with running water.

Some eyelash tints tout being “chemical-free” and “organic,” but like any beauty product near the eyes, risks could range from mild irritation to something as serious as blindness. Tints that have “kohl” or “coal-tar dyes” on their ingredient labels are no-nos. According to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA),

“Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness. There are no color additives approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows.”

Still, eyelash tinting doesn’t have to have harmful results if approached wisely and correctly. Unlike facials, eyelash tinting doesn’t require extensive training for the esthetician performing the process, so be sure you know their credentials beforehand.

No matter what tint you choose, be sure to have your esthetician conduct a skin test on your forearm or behind your ear before you let the tint touch your lashes. This is a safer way to identify any allergies you might have against the tint. Rashes and swelling are worse than pale eyelashes!

If in doubt, do your research and consult your VSP doctor who can advise in more detail.

Learn more about what the FDA has to say about eyelash tinting and dyes.

The content of this article is for general informational awareness purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your eyecare doctor or physician for actual advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This article is the work of the attributed author and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of VSP. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately.

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Michelle Calder, O.D., is the owner and lead optometrist at Urban Optiques in Northville, MI.