Unregulated eyelash extensions carry risks

Unregulated eyelash extensions carry risks
A woman undergoes an eyelash extension procedure at a beauty salon in Tokyo.

A growing number of women are seeking medical care after using eyelash extensions, an increasingly popular trend.

Though some safety precautions are taken in the use of the cosmetic products, unresolved issues remain, including toxic substances used in adhesive agents, which are unregulated.

Regulation has not been able to keep up with the rapid proliferation of cosmetic procedures.

During the procedure to make lashes look longer and thicker, artificial eyelashes are attached to each natural eyelash using adhesive agents.

The method, which originated in South Korea, has been spreading in Japan since about 2003. The extensions look more natural than conventional false eyelashes, and the effects last for about three weeks.

Eyelash extensions do not need to be attached and removed every day. Costs range from about ¥5,000 (S$4 million) to more than ¥10,000 for each treatment.

The number of reported medical cases involving the artificial eyelashes nationwide that have been confirmed by the National Consumer Affairs Center of Japan was two in fiscal 2004 and hit 137 in fiscal 2012. In fiscal 2013, 112 cases were reported as of May 19.

A 23-year-old woman said she was diagnosed as suffering from dermatitis on her eyelids at Matsumoto Ganka, an eye clinic in Yamato-Koriyama, Nara Prefecture, in April.

"Five or six hours after [getting eyelash extensions], both of my eyelids became swollen," she said. "I've been to an eye clinic twice since I got them done."

She underwent the procedure after one of her friends recommended a beauty salon. Though it was located in a condominium apartment without a doorplate, she was attracted by the low fee of about ¥4,000.

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