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Is it Safe to Tint Brows and Lashes?

It is -- if you do it right. Read on for our dyeing do's and don'ts.

By Maria Ricapito

Reviewed by Emmy M. Graber, MD

WebMD the Magazine - Feature

Women are flocking to salons and spas for a time-saving beauty trick: lash and brow tinting. 

A real concern, however, is eye sensitivity and safety.  "If done by a well-trained and highly experienced esthetician or hair colorist who knows what she's doing, it's absolutely fine," dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD, says. 

Keep in mind, though, that permanent eyelash and brow tints and dyes have caused reactions such as granulomas (small areas of inflamed tissue) or contact dermatitis (a rash). The FDA does not condone the practice. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to take them out before the procedure. You can reinsert them the next day. If your eyes are especially sensitive, have some saline or lubricating eyedrops to rinse your eyes afterward. 

Lash and Brow Tinting Safety

Robin R. Corey, artistic director of JaCar Color Lounge in Gilbert, Ariz., applies a cotton pad moistened with a gentle toner under the eyes to keep the color off the skin. "We never use hair dye on lashes; it's too harsh," Corey says. 

Instead, she paints a vegetable-based, semi-permanent stain on lashes with a small disposable mascara wand for each eye. She never double dips, which can spread infection. After a few minutes, a color developer goes on. There are some brands that can be done in a single step.

"You'll see lashes immediately turn black -- that's the most popular color," Corey says. Other color choices for lashes and brows are blue-black, brown, and chestnut. In three to five minutes, Corey gently wipes off residue with a damp towel. You shouldn't feel any stinging, and the esthetician should be with you the entire time in case the dye gets in your eyes. 

Corey uses demi-permanent color for brows. It’s slightly stronger and more lasting than the veggie version. She brushes it on with a disposable wand and lets it process for 10 to 20 minutes.

Stacy Sindlinger, a home accessories designer in Philipstown, N.Y., had no problems when she had her lashes colored. She didn't like the results, though. "I don't usually wear mascara, and it looked too dramatic," she says. Still, for many women, the results are well-defined lashes and a little more free time in the morning.

If you've ever gotten a rash from an allergic reaction to henna or to hair dye containing para-phenylenediamine (PPD), then you may also develop an allergic rash to lash or brow dyes. So you should not use them.

The results of permanent tints can last from one to three months. To make your dye job last longer, avoid using exfoliating alpha hydroxy and glycolic acid cleansers, which can strip color from brows, around your eyes.

If you want more oomph to your tinted lashes, you can still wear mascara.

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