Be Careful: Eyebrow and Eyelash Coloring Could Harm Your Vision

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Having your eyebrows and eyelashes tinted in a salon may seem like an easy way to avoid having to use an eye pencil for a month or two. But experts warn these treatments may not be safe.

The Food and Drug Administration has not approved any color additives for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows. The agency says permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness.

According to American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson Purnima Patel, MD, both eyebrow and eyelash tinting pose health dangers because they are so close to the eye. These treatments could cause problems with the eyes and affect vision. “People can develop sensitivities with repeated exposure,” Dr. Patel said. “In addition, formulations may change over time. It is possible to have a reaction even if you have tolerated a dye without issue in the past.”

Today Style notes that the FDA does not regulate salons. That job falls to state and local governments, which can have different rules. Last year, California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, which regulates the state’s beauty salons, told salon owners that because the FDA does not approve tints, they can be cited and fined if they use tinting products.

Jessica Krant, MD, MPH, a New York board-certified dermatologist with the American Academy of Dermatology, told Today Style that because there are no set standards for eyelash and eyebrow tinting, it can be hard to judge how safe it is. She added, “Even if the FDA were to approve dyes for tinting, it would still be possible to get infections and allergic reactions, so FDA approval of the dyes alone does not automatically make the procedure guaranteed totally safe.”

If you have a reaction to any type of hair dye or cosmetic, you should contact your health care provider, Dr. Patel advises. Then contact the FDA to report your reaction. “The law doesn’t require cosmetic companies to share their safety data or consumer complaints with the FDA,” she notes. “So, the information you report is very important to help the FDA monitor the safety of cosmetics on the market.”