What to Know if You Wear Fake Eyelashes

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 16, 2021
3 min read

Fake eyelashes give your natural lashes a full, thick look. They are fun to wear on special occasions and have become a part of many people’s everyday makeup routines. If you wear fake eyelashes, make sure to do your research to find out exactly how safe they are and what you can do to improve your experience.

False lashes are synthetic lashes designed to make your eyes pop. They’re attached to your eyelid just above your natural lashes using a temporary glue. Eyelash extensions are similar — they're attached directly to your natural lashes with a more permanent glue, usually by a professional.

As false lashes become more and more popular, many people are asking themselves, “Are fake eyelashes safe?” The answer isn’t simple. Fake eyelashes shouldn’t cause damage if applied and worn correctly, but there are risks that come along with wearing false lashes on a regular basis.

Your eyes are extremely delicate! You should be careful when you put anything on your skin or around your eyes, but fake eyelashes require extra caution. Synthetic lashes combined with a strong adhesive pose an extra threat to your eyes and could trigger an allergic reaction, irritation, or other eye injury.

Possible complications from misusing fake eyelashes include:

  • Allergic reactions to glue
  • A painful red bump on your eyelid or underneath your lash line, called a stye
  • Drooping eyelids from too much stimulation to your eyelids
  • Eye irritation or infection
  • Losing your natural eyelashes

Carefully read and follow the directions that come with your fake eyelashes in regard to cleanliness. If you use them incorrectly, you could be opening the door for dangerous bacteria or fungi to build up on your false lashes and infect your eye. There have been cases of temporary and permanent blindness as a result of misusing eye makeup.

Don’t share or borrow someone else’s fake eyelashes. Introducing someone else’s germs to your eyes could be extremely dangerous! If you have the opportunity to sample fake eyelashes in a cosmetic store, say no unless you know you’ll be wearing a brand-new pair of false lashes with a single-use applicator.

If you’re familiar with fake eyelashes and know that your eyes are sensitive to a certain ingredient, check the label before you buy and apply. If the package is so small that it doesn’t have a list of ingredients, search online or ask an employee how to find out what’s in the fake eyelashes and lash glue. If you’re new to wearing fake eyelashes, research what ingredients can be irritating or unhealthy for your eyes.

Formaldehyde is a common ingredient in fake eyelash glue that can cause allergic reactions. If you’re allergic to formaldehyde, your eye will hurt, itch, turn red, and begin to swell. A severe allergic reaction can temporarily interfere with your vision.

Applying fake eyelashes is fairly straightforward. You’ll apply fake eyelash glue to the band of false eyelashes you want to put on. To be extra safe while applying these, it’s recommended that you do so while you’re absolutely still. Don’t try to apply in a car or if someone is near you and can bump you. 

If you are jostled, you could injure your eye. For example, if one of your tools comes into contact with your eye, you can scratch your cornea and put yourself at risk of a serious infection.

Always wash your hands before applying fake eyelashes. There is plenty of bacteria on your hands that could cause an eye infection if it comes into direct contact with your eye.

When removing fake eyelashes, softly blot the top of the false lashes with warm water, special eyelash remover, or eye makeup remover. This weakens the adhesive. Sometimes, semi-permanent fake eyelash glue is difficult to remove. You can use an oil-based eye makeup remover or another oily option like coconut oil to help loosen it. If you’re not confident removing semi-permanent fake lashes, contact a licensed professional for help.

Don’t feel nervous to wear fake eyelashes! They are a safe way to enhance your appearance if applied and removed correctly. If you find that your eyes are left irritated, infected, or otherwise injured, contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Show Sources


American Academy of Ophthalmology: “​​Eyelash Extension Facts and Safety.”

Piedmont Healthcare: “Are eyelash extensions safe?”

Poison Control: “Is Eyelash Glue Toxic?”

U.S. FDA: “Eye Cosmetic Safety.”

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