The Truth About Eyelash Dye and Tinting Kits, According to a Brow and Lash Expert

Close-up of woman with vitiligo

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By now you may have heard of eyelash tinting, a covetable beauty service that involves dyeing your lashes to feign the appearance of a dark, long, and lean flutter sans endless tubes of mascara, flakes, mascara tears, falsies, or extensions. Sounds dreamy, right? Plus, in addition to the eyelash dye services available at certain salons and spas, there are numerous at-home eyelash tinting kits available to buy on marketplace sites like Amazon. But we've been wondering, is eyelash dye safe to use on our own?

Like many kinds of beauty treatments, eyelash tinting does run the potential for risk (just because dye so close to the delicate eye area has raised some eyebrows in terms of health and safety), and in some states like California, the professional practice has even been outlawed due to such concerns as damage and injury to the eye. Interestingly, however, other states like New York still allow it. So to gain some expert intel on the topic, we asked Josh Beeler to weigh in.

Meet the Expert

Josh Beeler is a brow and lash expert at Shen Beauty. He has over 20 years of professional experience and is based in Brooklyn.

Keep reading to find out whether or not eyelash tinting kits are safe and a few other important tips and tricks from Beeler.

What is Eyelash Tinting?

Long story short, eyelash tinting involves using a permanent or semi-permanent specially-formulated dye to make your lashes look darker and fuller. People with light-colored lashes will usually see the most dramatic results, but people with lash color can get it done.

The Benefits of Eyelash Tinting

First, let's talk benefits because according to Beeler (and a handful of our lash-blessed editors) there are many.

"I think eyelash tinting is an amazing service. If you’re running to yoga or the gym, taking the kids to school, or having a beach day, tinted lashes will help you feel like you have makeup on but leave out the potential for streaks, flakes, or running mascara," Beeler shares right off the bat. 

Similar to eyelash extensions (though tinting requires even less maintenance), the grand appeal is an abbreviated morning routine, and ready-set-go lashes that at most may require a quick bend from your eyelash curler and a once-per-month session with your lash specialist for touch-ups and maintenance.

"I know that lash tinting recently became outlawed in California," says Beeler. "This is a total bummer because when done correctly, the benefits of eyelash tinting make the monthly visit to your lash specialist worthwhile. Eyelash tinting allows you to easily shave 15 minutes off your morning routine, and if you also get your brows tinted (another amazing service offered at Shen and many other salons), you can achieve that covetable five-minute face so you're out the door in no time." That means more beauty sleep, folks.

Eyelash Tinting Safety

"Something that needs to be addressed is the oxidant or developer that is used with the eyelash tinting kits. For instance, when you have the hair on your head colored, your stylist will probably use around 20 to 30 volumes of peroxide," Beeler explains. "If you're lightening your hair, the developer can be 40 to 50 volume. This is what lifts the follicle, penetrates it with the color, and makes it permanent. Never use this percentage anywhere around the eye area. At Shen, we use a 3 percent developer, enough to give the tint longevity but safe to use around the eyes."

Risks and Side Effects of Eyelash Tinting

Not surprisingly, one of the most common side effects of eyelash tinting is eye irritation. And think of it kind of like baby shampoo—even the gentlest formulas can irritate the eyes. And not just your eyes can be affected. You can also have irritated skin around the eyes, and on the very serious end of the scale, chemical burns and blindness.

DIY Eyelash Tinting

As the risks and side effects of lash tinting can be pretty bleak, it's best to leave this treatment up to the professionals. And yes, even though eyelash tinting kits are, indeed, available to buy, there are definite risks involved when it comes to administering the treatment on your own—especially if you're completely new to the process.

"I don't recommend at-home lash tinting unless it is done by a trained and licensed professional," Beeler warns. In other words, if you're in the market to get your eyelashes tinted and are located in a state where the treatment is legal, definitely do your research.

How to Tint Your Eyelashes

RefectoCil Eyebrow & Eyelash Dye in Brilliant Black $11.00

Though Beeler doesn't recommend using eyelash tinting kits at home (please, just leave it to the professionals), we were still curious to learn what particular eyelash tinting products he swears by and feels are the safest to use around the eye.

"There's a company called RefectoCil that I use for lash and brow tinting at Shen Beauty. The brand is as natural as you can get with this type of treatment and boasts the full range of colors I need to customize the tint. For the most part, when I use this eyelash tinting kit, I'll go with either the black or blue-black or sometimes even a combo of the two. But every now and then, I will use the dark brown shade on a client who has a super-light or platinum shade of hair for a more natural effect," Beeler shares. 

Alternatives to Eyelash Tinting

So, if you're a bit hesitant to jump on the lash tinting train but still want lush, fuller-looking lashes, you do have options.

The first is eyelash extensions. Lash extensions should also be installed by professionals and will last about six weeks. Some of the cons include the cost, upkeep, and potential eye irritation.

Another option is a lash lift. A lash lift will help make your lashes look thicker and full, therefore giving you the appearance of darker lashes. A lash lift will usually last anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks and is a relatively quick (and safe) treatment when done by professionals.

The Final Takeaway

If you're intrigued and interested in dipping your toe into the world of eyelash tinting, first ensure the practice is legal in the state you're living in, and then begin your research—following Beeler's advice to locate a professional who's both trained and licensed. Next, it's not a bad idea to contact the salon or the specialist personally to find out which tinting product they use. Bonus points for a brand like RefectoCil, which gets Beeler's seal of approval. 

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