I Got an Eyelash Tint and Didn't Wear Mascara for Weeks

Here's everything you've ever wanted to know about eyelash tints, including whether it's worth trying.

I Got an Eyelash Tint and Didn't Wear Mascara for Weeks
Photo: Photo by Lisa from Pexels

I have blonde eyelashes, so rarely a day goes by that I enter the world (even if it's just the Zoom world) without mascara. But now — I'm not sure whether it's been over a year of pandemic lockdowns or the fact that that I'm nearing 30 — I find myself looking for ways to simplify my morning routine and transition into a more natural makeup style. Hearing my dilemma, one of my friends suggested I get eyelash extensions, but I wasn't ready to dive into that level of maintenance yet. Luckily, another mentioned eyelash tinting — and I was instantly intrigued.

"Eyelash tinting is the simplest service in comparison to a lash lift or extension, and is a good starting point," says Rinta Juwana, an esthetician at Beau Eyelash Studio in New York City. Eyelash tinting is essentially dying your eyelashes with a dark dye, creating a look that's almost like a semi-permanent layer of mascara.

Is Eyelash Tinting Safe?

Here's the thing: Neither eyebrow nor eyelash tinting are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Their site warns consumers that "no color additives are approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows," and "permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries." (It's worth noting that the FDA also refuses to acknowledge CBD as safe, but plenty of people still take part.)

Just because the FDA hasn't approved the treatments doesn't mean salons can't perform the services. Many pros use semi-permanent dyes instead of permanent dyes, and it's up to individual states to regulate what they can and can't do. (For example, lash and brow tinting is allowed in New York as long as the dye isn't permanent, but it's completely banned in California, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology.) You'll need to check your state laws to see if nearby salons are allowed to perform eyelash tints.

Essentially, the worry is that eyebrow and eyelash enhancements pose health dangers because they're so close to the eye, and as a result could cause eye problems or affect vision, according to a statement by AAO spokesperson Purnima Patel, M.D., on the academy's site.

That said, take one look at Instagram, and you'll see that happy eyelash and eyebrow tint customers are aplenty. In the 20 years she's been offering the service to her clients, Juwana says she's never seen anyone have a bad reaction to the dye. If you have allergies or have experienced sensitivity to products in the past, she does recommend doing a patch test; your esthetician will likely apply a little bit of the dye behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist and then wait 15 minutes to see if your skin develops a reaction.

And, of course, prior to doing any procedure involving the eyes — including eyelash lifts, extensions, or tints — it's a good idea to consult with your eye doctor, says Karen Nipper, M.D., board-certified ophthalmologist at ReFocus Eye Health. (Also read: This Doctor Pointed Out a Surprising Side Effect of Eyelash Growth Serums)

Is an Eyelash Tint Worth It?

An eyelash tint typically costs between $30-40 and lasts about three weeks, but "it depends on your hair cycle," says Juwana. "Just like the hair on your head, eyelashes have a cycle. They grow out and fall out, but it's more noticeable on your head when your roots start to show." After getting an eyelash tint, your lashes will slowly start to lighten, not so much because it's wearing off but more so because the eyelashes that were tinted are falling out and being replaced with new ones.

Sure, my drugstore mascara is cheaper than $30 and the tube lasts longer than three weeks, but I was curious to see if tinting my eyelashes would be more convenient for vacations or events to which I don't want to wear makeup. I imagined eyelash tinting would give me the freedom to be super low-maintenance while also allowing me to rock the dark-lashed look that I like — it seemed like a total win-win.

So, I gave an eyelash tint a try. The whole process was very easy and only took about 30 minutes. First, your esthetician will help you decide which eyelash tint color is best for your complexion and current lashes. It's not as extensive as choosing a hair color, as there are just a few different options: brown, dark brown, pure black, and blue-black. My esthetician suggested going for a dark brown hue because, even though I normally wear black mascara, the pure black hue might've looked a little too intense on me. (

To actually perform the eyelash tint, the esthetician first applies a lotion or a gel around your eyes to protect the skin and to ensure the dye only sticks to your eyelashes (both top and bottom). At Beau, Juwana uses Vaseline and adds an eye patch under the bottom lashes for even more protection.

After the eye area is prepped, your lashes are ready for the tint. The dye is carefully applied with a disposable, single-use microtip brush and left on for 10-15 minutes. If you keep your eyes closed, you will feel nothing. Sounds easy enough but, TBH, this is the one part I found challenging. At one point, I accidentally opened my eyes and felt a little bit of stinging. (Also, I wear contacts, which cause my eyes to water a little more than others. My esthetician told me to take my contacts out next time to be more comfortable.) All that said, my blinking and tearing didn't affect my eyes or the dye results at all.

At the very end, the esthetician uses a cotton swab to remove any excess dye and clean the area around your eye — and that's it! Juwana tells her clients to avoid washing their face on the first day of treatment so the color can soak in, but other than that, you can continue with your usual routine. You can even wear makeup on top of the dye if you'd like; just try to use an oil-free eye makeup remover because oil can cause the dye to fade more quickly.

I was pleasantly surprised with my results. For the first time, I could see my fabulous eyelashes without any makeup. Sure, wearing mascara also adds a lot of volume to my lashes, but I was content with the way the semi-permanent color made them pop. (

Courtesy of Bethany George
Courtesy of Bethany George

If you want to give it a try but don't want to fork over the cash or add another salon appointment to your rotation, you might be curious about doing an eyelash tint at home. (And there are indeed eyelash tint kits you can buy on Amazon and elsewhere online that promise similar results.) But before you try to DIY, know that Juwana doesn't recommend it as it's a meticulous process that should be done by a professional, she explains. It's also important to remember that eyelash tinting is not yet approved by the FDA, and there are, of course, some health risks if the dye gets in your eye — which is probably an easy to mistake to make when you're trying to apply the dye yourself. (FWIW, I die my own eyebrows at home, and in the reviews of my go-to, vegetable-based dye, a lot of customers say they also use it on their eyelashes.)

My eyelash tint lasted at least three weeks, during which I mostly went sans-mascara. I also didn't feel the need to put on additional eye makeup. And by the time it started to fade, I'd become sp accustomed to the more natural look that I still opted to go au natural. (

But the real question: was eyelash tinting worth it and would I get it done again? Ultimately, I don't feel the need to continue getting an eyelash tint every few weeks. That said, I would definitely do it again, especially for an outdoorsy vacation where I don't want to sweat my mascara all over my face. And I'll be honest: It was pretty liberating to not put on mascara once for days.

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