Full disclosure–this article raised a few eyebrows, even inciting a “not possible.” The notion that DIY eyebrow and lash tinting treatments could be putting your health at risk threatened to put an end to a sacred part of a few editors’ beauty routines.
U.S. publication Allure first raised the alarm after the Food and Drug Administration’s put a ban on all coal-based permanent lash and eyebrow dyes. Leading health experts to question, how safe are semi-permanent DIY dyes, used both locally and internationally, really?
So, what exactly is lash and brow tinting?
Basically, a dye is brushed directly on brows and lashes to darken the hair for approximately six months. The results not only save time and create a more youthful overall look but for lazy beauty girls, tinting looks more natural result than brow pencils. In Australia, you can purchase many TGA-approved semi-permanent formulas at the pharmacy or book into a salon for a more permanent alternative.
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What are the risks?
In America, the FDA hasn't approved any dyes for tinting because of the risks they pose to eye safety. "Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries," the federal agency says on its website.
"The problems are the irritation to the actual sclera of the eye, which can be very uncomfortable and last days," she certified dermatologist Nava Greenfield advises. It can also cause an allergic reaction, complete with redness, scaliness, and extreme itching, that could last several days and need medication to treat.
And those are just the temporary side effects. "You could also suffer chemical burns to your eyes and possibly permanent eye irritation," Greenfield adds. Most recently the practice was completely banned in California.
As reported by Refinery 29, it’s illegal in California for any licenced beautician to have brow or lash tinting in their salon. It’s even been prohibited from being taught in cosmetology schools. In a statement issued to the outlet, The California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology reports, “the FDA has informed the Board that, currently, the additives used in lash/brow tints are not approved for use around the eye area.”
More specifically, the FDA cites coal tar as the ingredient in question, stating that it "represent[s] an acute, severe hazard to health with the possibility of permanent injury; i.e., impaired sight, including blindness."
If you are concerned, we recommend sticking to natural vegetable based-dyes and only have the treatment performed by a trained professional in a salon.