Is it Allergy or Eye Irritation

Last week we covered allergies and discussed that only a true allergy causes swollen eyelids.  However, sometimes people mistake irritated eyes for allergies.  In this article, we will show you what irritated eyes look like compared to allergies, what causes it, and to to avoid it going forward.

Everyone is different, but some people have very sensitive eyes.  With exposure to lash adhesive, your customers can experience something called a mild chemical burn.

Chemical Eye Burn Symptoms

Chemical burns for lash extensions are usually mild and transient.  They should NOT get worse after the initial reaction.  The symptoms should clear up on their own in 24-48 hours . Early signs and symptoms of a chemical eye burn are:

  • Pain
  • Redness
  • Irritation
  • Tearing
  • Inability to keep the eye open
  • Sensation of something in the eye
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Blurred vision

If your customer is experiencing any of the above, you should recommend that they speak to their family doctor as we are not medical professionals. 

How did the eyes get exposed?

There are a number of opportunities for customers to inadvertently get exposed to lash adhesive.

The longer the exposure, the more severe their symptoms will be. Here are 4 different problems that you can use to troubleshoot and identify the likely cause of the irritation. 

  1. Chatty customer: Many customers slightly open their eyes when they talk. Advise them to talk only if necessary, and perhaps give them a lip mask treatment to remind them!
  2. Too much pressure on tweezer: Newer lash artists are often challenged by finding the right pressure to hold the isolating tweezer. While the tweezer can “rest” on the gel pad to hold the isolation, if you push too hard, the lower eyelid is pushed down and exposes the lower eye (cornea) to the fumes. Practice holding it down as if your client’s head is a fragile balloon that you don’t want to break!
  3. Large Round Eyes: Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, but large eyes sometimes don’t close all the way. Ask your client to close their eyes, and then look to see if you can see the whites of their eyes. You can either double up the gel pads, or use a thick foam tape, to seal the gap and protect them from future exposure.
  4. Expired or Not shaken adhesive: As the adhesive ages, we have noticed that sometimes the fumes become stronger. Also, if adhesive is not shaken vigorously each time, fumes can be more severe and cause reaction. Adhesive is best changed more frequently. We recommend refreshing your adhesive once per month if possible.
  5. Customer Opens their eyes: It sounds obvious, but tell your clients to keep their eyes closed. Some clients forget... I have even had clients that would try and use their phone while I was lashing them. I usually offered to type their texts for them!



Always make sure to discuss seeking medical advice from a doctor or pharmacist.. Stronger prescription medication can help, but some clients use a vasoconstrictor (like Visine) to reduce redness and irritation. Clients can also use a cold compress to alleviate symptoms but advise them to only use clean/disposable products as you do not want them to get an infection from a dirty cloth!


Cut Cornea

It is extremely rare, but it is possible to actually cut the cornea by placing the gel pads or tape too high. Medical care is definitely required. Be VERY careful when you apply tape. You should apply it so low on the lower eyelid that you can still see the root of the lower lashes. Also, ask customers if they experience discomfort at ANY time to tell you so that you can adjust the pads.


Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Is it allergy – It is unlikely to be an allergy unless the skin is swollen too. Redness of the eyeball is irritation and is caused by inflamed blood vessels.
  • Can they still get lashes – absolutely, but going forward you might also want to use a nanomister or a nebulizer. These devices add water directly to the surrounding air and will “cure” the adhesive thus removing the fumes
  • Do I need to use a sensitive adhesive – you probably can fix the issues causing the problem without using a “true” Allergy Adhesive. However, be careful about adhesives on the market that are not as refined as premium adhesives. Sometimes you get what you pay for. Many customers react to cheap adhesives but are fine with better quality adhesives.






Advice to Customer

Advice for Lasher

Blood shot eye

Fumes from adhesive because eyes were exposed during lashing.

The client opened eye frequently by talking


Lash artist applies too much pressure on the lower skin (with isolating tweezers) and it opens their eyelid slightly


The client has big eyes that don’t close all the way


The adhesive was not shaken well enough or is too old

use visine for redness and wait 24 hours.  If symptoms are severe or worsening, seek medical attention



Make sure client doesn’t talk!  Use a lip mask if necessary to remind them!


Use less pressure with your isolating tweezers to avoid exposing eye to fumes


Use a nanomister to cure adhesive during the procedure


Use thick foam tape instead of gel pads to close the gap under their eye if they have extra large eyes