Once the preserve of Hollywood sirens and performers, false eyelashes are now the accessory for fashion conscious women.
Whether it is a boost to short lashes or the outrageous feathers a la US singer Lady Gaga, we women, it seems, can’t get enough of them.
In fact, there are reports of women wearing up to three pairs of them at a time when they hit the bars on a night out – which no doubt accounts for the 1,000 per cent increase in sales at some stores.
But the rise of the glue-on eyelash is causing myriad health problems, according to the Eyecare Trust, which is sufficiently worried about the fashion to issue health warnings. (Even the Public Ministry in Thailand issued warnings about them earlier this year.)
Improper use and storage of fake eyelashes, it says, leads to a risk of dirt and bacteria being transferred onto eyelids and the cornea.
Shockingly, this can lead not only to eye infections but, in the worst case scenario, permanent sight loss.
It’s a sobering thought for women who want to enhance their looks but don’t think about what the future might hold, if they ignore basic hygiene rules.
All too often we ignore the obvious warnings about the risks to beauty: sunbeds, plastic surgery, even diet and high heels, but let’s hope the warnings from Iain Anderson, chairman of the Eyecare Trust are heeded.
“Failing to follow a good hygiene routine when wearing false lashes puts you at risk of suffering irritation and nasty eye infections such as conjunctivitis and bacterial keratitis,” he says.
“Common symptoms of these eye infections include: red, sore or gritty eyes; a watery discharge; sensitivity to the light; headaches; blurred vision and in severe cases, reduced visual acuity.”
Basic rules apply – and they are mostly common sense – when it comes to safe usage of false eyelashes, so why do so many women ignore them?
These are the Trust’s top tips to wearing false lashes. For goodness sake, follow them.
1. Wash your hands before applying fake lashes.
2. Use a good quality adhesive.
3. Never stick them to your own lashes (always glue them to the eyelid and following the manufacturer’s instructions).
4. Never wear more than one pair at once.
5. Clean them thoroughly before reuse.
6. Throw them away at the first sign of wear and tear (most lashes have a lifespan of around four wears).
7. Store them in a clean / dry case.
8. Never share your lashes with anyone else.
9. Don’t stick jewels or other embellishments onto the lashes.
10. Always remove them before you go to bed.