"I'm not one to put on makeup every day," says Stacy Sindlinger, 46, a home accessories designer in Philipstown, N.Y. But she wanted the effect she got from mascara, without the daily effort and the occasional irritation, so she tried something that many women have made part of their regular beauty routines."I dyed my lashes."
Is eyelash coloring safe, given the sensitivity of the eye area? "If done by a well-trained and highly experienced esthetician who knows what she's doing, it's absolutely fine," says Jeannette Graf, MD, a dermatologist in Great Neck, N.Y. Brows can also safely be dyed by an experienced hair colorist, she adds.
Still, for the record, permanent eyelash and brow tints and dyes have caused reactions such as granulomas (small areas of inflamed tissue) or contact dermatitis (a rash), according to Graf, and the FDA does not condone the practice. If you wear contact lenses, be sure to take them out during the procedure (you can reinsert them the next day), and if your eyes are especially sensitive, have some saline or lubricating eyedrops to rinse your eyes afterward.
Lash and Brow Tinting Safety
Robin R. Corey, artistic director of JaCar Color Lounge in Gilbert, Ariz., applies a cotton pad moistened with a gentle toner under the eyes to keep the color off the skin. "We never use hair dye on lashes; it's too harsh," Corey says. Instead, she paints a vegetable-based, semipermanent stain on lashes with a small disposable mascara wand for each eye. She never double dips, which can spread infection. After a few minutes, a color developer goes on (some brands are done in a single step).
"You'll see lashes immediately turn black -- that's the most popular color," Corey says. Other choices for lashes and brows are blue-black, brown, and chestnut. In three to five minutes, she gently wipes off residue with a damp towel. You shouldn't feel any stinging; the esthetician should be with you the entire time in case the dye gets in your eyes.
For brows, Corey uses demi-permanent color -- slightly stronger and more lasting than the veggie version. She brushes it on with a disposable wand and lets it process for 10 to 20 minutes. Sindlinger had no negative reaction when she had her lashes colored. She just didn't like the results. "Because I don't usually wear mascara, it looked too dramatic," she says. Still, for many women the results are well-defined lashes and a little more free time in the morning.
Money matters -- Lash dyeing costs around $25 to $75, and brow coloring starts at about $15, depending on the salon.
Staying power -- The results of permanent tints can last from one to three months. To make your dye job last longer, avoid using exfoliating alpha hydroxy and glycolic acid cleansers, which can strip color from brows, around your eyes.
Magic wand -- If you want more oomph to your tinted lashes, use mascara.