A lash lift is basically a perm that provides weeks-long lift and curl to your lashes without having to mess with tools, curling wands, and false lashes. Also nicknamed “lash perm,” this procedure works with a keratin solution to create volume.

You’ll need to get the procedure done again after a few months in order to maintain results.

Like any cosmetic treatment, no matter how popular, lash lifts aren’t without risk. There are serious side effects to consider — which can be made worse if you don’t work with an aesthetician who’s experienced with lash lifts.

Learn more about the risks involved, as well as the possible alternatives to this increasingly popular beauty treatment.

Since lash lifts are a relatively new procedure, little information is available about the potential for side effects. However, there are reports of post-procedure side effects in firsthand reviews.

Skin irritation is perhaps the greatest risk of the procedure. While protective pads are placed along your lash line to prevent the keratin glue from getting on your skin, this method isn’t completely foolproof.

You might also be more prone to irritation due to the chemicals contained in the solution if you have a history of dry eye, allergies, and eye or skin sensitivities.

Side effects from the solution include:

  • blisters
  • rash
  • redness
  • dry eye
  • watery eyes
  • inflammation
  • more brittle lash hair

If the solution lands in your eye, the likely outcome is considerable irritation or even a burn or ulcer. As well, you risk corneal abrasion if you rub your irritated eye or it gets accidentally scratched or otherwise traumatized.

Aside from the solution itself causing irritation, working with an inexperienced practitioner can also increase your risk of side effects during the application process.

Damaged hair is a possibility with any chemicals or traction applied to your strands. This can lead to temporary hair loss.

A lash lift takes about 45 minutes to complete.

Before your visit, if you normally wear contact lenses, you’ll want to remove them and wear eyeglasses instead.

You’ll also want to make sure that your eyelids and lashes are clean: They should be completely free of makeup or residue — this includes mascara and the oils that some makeup removers leave behind.

While lash lifts are advertised as being safe, the process itself involves chemicals, including manufactured keratin:

  • Aesthetician often apply a glue to the eyelid to position a silicone roller, which they use to shape your lashes.
  • Chemicals break up the disulfide bonds in strands of hair, making it possible to reshape the hair.
  • The application of another solution “sets” the new shape and stops the initial process of reforming the disulfide bonds in your hair.
  • Lash lifts are sometimes combined with tinting, which often means more chemicals applied to your eye area.

If you have a history of certain eye or skin conditions, the ingredients can cause a reaction. These conditions include:

  • eye allergies
  • eye infections
  • skin sensitivity
  • styes
  • chronic dry eye
  • watery eyes

It's also important to understand what you can expect from a lash lift. For example, the resulting curl will shorten the appearance of your lashes. Depending on the length of your eyelashes and the desired results, this effect may or may not be ideal.

As a rule of thumb, you should seek out a practitioner who is licensed and experienced in doing lash lifts. An aesthetician is a good place to start. You can also seek a dermatologist who performs cosmetic procedures like lash lifts.

As well, while the FDA doesn’t regulate lash lifts, laws can vary by state. California, for example, requires aestheticians, dermatologists, and barbers to have a license to perform lash lifts.

It’s a good idea to do a meet-and-greet before booking a lash lift appointment. Ask the practitioner if they have a portfolio of before-and-after photos on hand to give you an idea of the quality of their work.

A reputable practitioner will also ask about your history of eye and skin diseases or sensitivities to determine if a lash lift is right for you.

Whether or not you have a history of sensitivities, it’s a good idea to have the practitioner perform a skin test with a small amount of the lash-lifting product. This is usually applied to a less conspicuous area of the body, such as the inside of your elbow.

If no reaction develops after two days, then the product may be safe to use on your lashes. But keep in mind that your eye area is often much more sensitive than the rest of your body.

Finally, if something doesn’t seem right at a prospective practitioner’s office, trust your gut and feel free to leave.

A lash lift may last about six weeks on average, so you’ll need to go back and get the procedure done again to maintain the results.

The more you get the procedure done, the more likely it is you’ll experience side effects at some point. Plus, if you’ve already had side effects from a lash lift, chances are you would experience them again the next time you have it done.

Whether you’ve already had side effects, or if you’re at a high risk of getting them, there are alternatives to a lash lift that are worth considering. These include:

  • Eyelash curler. These tools are used every day or on an as-needed basis. You can also use one to do a touch-up over mascara throughout the day. The curling effect wears off after showering.
  • Curling mascara. Like eyelash curlers, you can use mascara whenever you want. Look for a mascara that has a curling wand, as well as a color that best matches your natural eyelash color (for example, dark brown or black for naturally dark eyelashes). As a bonus, waterproof formulas will hold up against moisture and humidity.
  • Latisse. An FDA-approved drug, this treatment is designed for people who want more lashes, or fuller versions of the lashes they already have. With daily use at home, you could see results in about 16 weeks. While this medication doesn’t pose a risk to your eyes, it can cause dark spots along the surrounding skin — this is why precise application is key.
  • Good grooming practices. These include complete makeup removal every night and taking more time between lash lifts or only getting them on occasion, giving the lashes time to recover from any styling damage.

The lash lift is a relatively new procedure, so not much is known about the side effects from a statistical standpoint. But anecdotes on the internet establish that side effects are indeed a risk associated with this procedure.

While you can decrease your risk of side effects by working with a reputable practitioner, you may still be prone to reactions, especially if you have skin or eye sensitivities.

If you prefer to avoid any potential side effects, keep your eyelash curler and mascara on hand for regular use to help achieve the long, full eyelashes you desire.