Makeup

Beauty confessions: "A lash lift destroyed my eyelashes!"

Stephanie wants her experience to read as a cautionary tale for other women wanting a quick beauty fix.

By Rebecca Sullivan
Stephanie Branley always wanted long and luscious lashes.
Like many women, she wanted to give her eyelashes a little boost to lift her confidence and help her feel put-together without makeup.
She'd learned about lash lifts through Instagram and booked an appointment before going on a holiday.
But Stephanie had no idea this simple treatment could leave her lashes destroyed forever.
For the uninitiated, a lash lift is like a perm for your eyelashes.
A few different chemical solutions are used to curl the lash and after about 60 minutes and around $100-$130, you're left with gorgeous lashes that make you look oh-so-awake.
"A lash lift involves placing the lashes comfortably on a silicone mould that's selected for your eye shape and lashes," one of Australia's top lash and brow experts, Amy Jean of Amy Jean Brows, told Now To Love.
"The lashes are placed in an upward direction using adhesive. Various solutions are applied to gently lift the lashes and tinting the lashes in a glossy black dye completes the treatment," Amy Jean said.
The lifted lashes last for "eight weeks when maintained correctly," she said, which involves eliminating contact with water and steam for 24 hours post-treatment.
Like any beauty treatment, there are plenty of women who swear by lash lifts and love the procedure.
But an unregulated beauty industry with no formal code of conduct means dodgy operators are allowed to flourish.
Beauty blogger and influencer Chloe Morello shows off her stunning lash lift. (Image: Instagram)

Stephanie, 21, from Sydney, had tried a lash lift three times before and loved the results.
"I never had any reactions, but the beautician I went to moved to a different shop, so I thought I'd follow her to this new place," Stephanie told Now To Love.
That turned out to be a terrible mistake.
A week after Stephanie's fourth lash lift, she noticed her eyelashes were "really frizzy" and had started to fall out.
"I knew something wasn't right," she said.
When she contacted her beauty therapist, she was told to treat her lashes with castor oil, but Stephanie's lashes continued to worsen.
"After about two months, half of them had fallen out and they were crooked. My doctor believed this was all set off by one of the chemicals," she said.
"It was really embarrassing and I didn't want to leave the house. You need eyelashes to protect your eyes from dirt and the wind and so my eyes became really sensitive."
So Stephanie contacted the beauty salon, which Now To Love cannot name for legal reasons, and demanded a refund.
"They said 'Send us your details' so I did, but I was never given a refund. They were very hostile and wouldn't take any responsibility for what happened."
By now, Stephanie had large bald spots on her eyes where her lashes used to be and was growing increasingly angry and self-conscious.
"So I left a review on their Facebook page warning about what had happened and then three other people replied saying it had happened to them too. They said their lashes were crooked and falling out. But the salon denied that they'd done anything wrong."
Stephanie was a big fan of lash lifts. (Image: Supplied)
The 21-year-old wanted to have fresh, natural lashes for an upcoming holiday. (Image: Supplied)

Here's what went wrong

Next, Stephanie got in contact with the company who makes the chemical solution used to curl the lash. They asked her how long the product had been left on her lashes.
"I remember exactly that she put two solutions on for 12 minutes and the third was definitely on for over 10 minutes. I remember because [the beauty therapist] had the timer on her phone. But the company said you only need six minutes for the first solution and five minutes for the second. They said you can't go over that, otherwise it will ruin your lashes.
"That made me so angry."
After some of her eyelashes started to turn white, she went to see an ophthalmologist [eye specialist], who diagnosed her with "chemical-induced blepharitis", or chronic inflammation of the eye.
"My ophthalmologist said all these problems have been caused by leaving the chemical on for too long. Eyelashes typically grow back after two-three months, but six months have now gone by but there are so many bald spots and they're not regrowing because of how damaging they are.
"The initial procedure cost $85 but I've now paid thousands of dollars trying to fix it. I've had to go on steroid antibiotics to try and bring the inflammation down because my eyes are so red and irritated."
Story continues after photos
What Stephanie's lashes looked like when they fell out after treatment, which happened at a beauty salon in Sydney's south. (Image: Supplied)
You can see the bald patches on Stephanie's eyelashes here. Amy Jean says this should never happen with a lash lift. (Image: Supplied)

The long term impacts

Stephanie has been left traumatised by her experience and says her confidence is shattered.
"Unfortunately I've made the worst decision of my life," she said.
"I wear glasses because of how embarrassing I am and I don't actually need them to see. Even travelling or sleeping over at someone else's house, all these things are difficult now.
"Everyday, morning and night, I have a 30-60 minute routine of cleaning my eyes and eyelids. This affects my daily life.
"I'm shedding about 10 lashes a day and because of all the complications I get all this gross flaking on my eyelashes. I have to literally check them every half-hour.
"I can't wear any eye makeup or mascara. I have to be so careful. My eyelashes will never be the same again.
"I should have left myself alone. You should be able to go somewhere and know that they know what they're doing."
She is sharing her story in the hope it will educate women and encourage them to do their research before getting a lash lift.
"Just be really careful and read reviews. Had I done my research I probably would have know that something wasn't quite right."

How to avoid this happening to you

Lash and brow queen Amy Jean owns salons all around Australia. (Image: Supplied)
Brow and lash expert Amy Jean, who operates several salons around Australia and counts celebrities including Delta Goodrem, Dannii Minogue and Ada Nicodemou as clients, has some tips for how to avoid a negative lash lift experience.
  • "Do your research before choosing a salon to ensure you understand how lash treatments results can differ," Amy Jean said. "Some results will be more dramatic than other salons who would offer a more natural lash look."
  • "Ensure the salon follows hygiene standards and that the treatment is in a clean environment."
  • "If it is a reputable salon and no questions are needed, have a consultation with the artist beforehand to ensure the end result is what you are after."
  • "It's recommended to avoid contact with water and steam for the first 24 hours. There is no after care involved following this period."
  • If you are using a lash growth serum, be sure to let the salon know. They should use a softer profile or less curl as the lashes curve more easily when on a growth serum. If they use a mould too tight, it may flip the lashes back onto themselves.

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