For years, I’ve toyed with the idea of getting eyelash extensions. The thought of lengthening my natural lashes to three times their normal size and never having to deal with mascara (and mascara-induced raccoon rings) is appealing for obvious reasons, but I’ve always been afraid of one thing in particular: Will lash extensions make my natural eyelashes fall out?
To figure it out—and quell my fears—once and for all, I turned to the pros. “While people love the way eyelash extensions look, they can interfere with growth of your natural lashes,” says New York-based dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD. “Inflammation from inserting the extensions and the adhesive used to keep them in place can cause breakage of your real lashes and interfere with optimal growth. It’s very common to find your natural lashes short and sparse after the extensions are removed.”
If not breakage, eyelash extensions “can definitely weaken [your lashes], and as we get older, this can lead to permanent loss,” says Mona Gohara, MD, a Connecticut-based dermatologist. And a third dermatologist, Dr. Dendy Engleman, MD, confirms that “over time without breaks, lash extensions can cause damage to the natural lash.”
However—according to celebrity lash expert Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes, this will only really happen if your lashes aren’t applied the right way. “Lash extensions alone will not ruin your lashes,” she says. “Damage to the natural lashes is the result of improper application, or the stylist not selecting the correct type of lash for an existing natural lash.” She notes that there are a few things that can contribute to this problem, including applying extensions that are too heavy for your natural lash, which will result in premature shedding (if things are done correctly, your extensions will fall off as a part of the normal shedding process, AKA when your natural lashes grow to maturity and shed, taking the extension with it), or rubbing your eyes, which will result in immediate breakage.
“Safety should be your number one concern—finding someone who is certified to apply the lashes is a must,” says Richardson, noting that depending on the state, a stylist also needs to be licensed, not just certified. “If you go to an inexperienced lash stylist, chances are you’re going to end up with uneven, clumpy looking lashes. Even worse, they can damage your natural lashes which can also prevent regrowth.”
So, while lash extensions don’t always cause your lashes to fall out, it definitely is a possibility. If this is something that happens to you, Dr. Zeichner notes that he’s seen GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum ($65) help with regrowth. As for me, I might try an eyelash extension and skip the falsies so that I don’t have to find out from personal experience.