Lash extensions can do some damage. Here's what you should know.

By InStyle
Updated: September 21, 2018
Photo: Csaba Toth/Getty Images

Anyone who's seen a before-and-after photo of lash extensions understands just how transformative they can be. But, the treatment isn't perfect. Lash extensions are high maintenance, expensive, and yes, it's true: Fake lashes can damage your real lashes.

If you notice that your natural lashes look thinner and more sparse as your lash extensions start to fall out, the treatment could be to blame. Sometimes, extensions can disrupt your lashes' natural growth cycle. (Related: How Much Do Lash Extensions Cost? The Cost Is More Than We Thought)

"Most eyelashes have a relatively short growth cycle of hair-this is why our lashes are about one-fourth of an inch long rather than inches or feet like hair on our scalp," explains Melanie Palm, M.D., board-certified dermatologist, cosmetic surgeon, and founder of Art of Skin MD in San Diego, CA. "However, eyelash hairs have a long pause cycle before they move to the shedding cycle, called telogen. Stress on the hair follicle may shift follicles prematurely into the shedding cycle."

Over time, hairs may grow back stubbier and finer than before. Plus, the glue used to adhere the lashes can be irritating-especially if you have sensitive skin. Dr. Palm says that some symptoms can include redness, flaky skin, severe itching, and even blisters. (Related: This Woman Says She Got a ‘Life-Threatening' Infection After a Microblading Treatment)

If you're willing to risk your natural lashes for the long, thick, full lashes of your dreams, there are a few things you can do to minimize the trauma. Dr. Palm says to be gentle when applying and removing eye makeup and to avoid rubbing the area. Additionally, she says to make sure your technician doesn't overfill the lashes when they're applying them. "Overfilling lashes by placing multiple extensions on one eyelash is more likely to allow lashes to shed, because of the additional weight that's added on to it," she says. (Related: A Simple Mascara Trick to Get Longer Lashes)

Conditioning your lashes is also important to keep your natural hairs strong. For post-removal care, Jaimineey Patel, head of training at Blink Brow Bar, recommends using a lash oil like the one from BBB's in-house line ($24; lookfantastic.com).

Patel also stresses that it's important to take breaks between extensions to give your natural lashes time to replenish. "Depending on the type of lashes you choose to wear, you should give yourself a months break in between, if possible," she says. "Semi-permanent lashes can be addictive, but a trained technician should advise you to have a full removal after a few in-fill sessions to ensure your lashes remain healthy and strong."

Dr. Palm agrees. "Healthy lashes can take up to a year to snap back into their old routine," she explains. "Similar to maintaining lashes while you have extensions, I recommend patients try applying a lash-stimulating product nightly on the upper lash line. Some may even consider taking a well-formulated hair supplement that provides the right environment and building blocks to hair growth." Her personal recommendation? Nutrafol. (Related: I've Been Taking Hair Growth Pills for 9 Months-Here's What's Changed)

The bottom line: Lash extensions are a way to get the lashes you've always wanted, but they come with a price-and not just the actual cost of the treatment.

This story originally appeared on InStyle.com by Erin Lukas.

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