Can I Tint My Lashes While Pregnant?

A woman's eyes with tinted eyelashes

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The allure of lash tinting is that your lashes look like you're wearing mascara without the hassle and potential eye irritation of applying and removing mascara. This benefit may feel even more enticing during pregnancy when many pregnant people feel tired or overwhelmed and are looking for ways to streamline beauty regimens.

During pregnancy, you may be wondering if lash tinting is safe to do. There are potential concerns over the safety of the dye used, as well as possible eye injury, irritation, or infection from the procedure, says Megan Gray, MD, an OB/GYN at Orlando Health Physician Associates.

Complicating matters is that doctors don't all agree on whether or not lash tinting during pregnancy is safe. However, generally, many experts give the beauty treatment their okay, assuming appropriate safety precautions are followed.

"Eyelash tinting is thought to be safe as long as the coloring dye has been tested on skin elsewhere for reaction and the procedure is being performed by a provider who is qualified to do so," says Michelle Andreoli, MD, an ophthalmologist at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Naperville, Illinois.

What Is Lash Tinting?

Lash tinting has become a very popular beauty service, alongside lash curling (also called lash lifting), and brow tinting. You might think it's a new phenomenon. However, the urge to darken and embolden our eyelashes has ancient roots, with evidence of the practice going all the way back to the days of the pyramids in Egypt.

Today, stand-alone lash specialist shops have been popping up in cities big and small to offer these treatments, which can also be found everywhere from waxing studios and hair salons to cosmetics shops and nail salons. In fact, increasing interest in lash tinting may, in part, be due to the mask-wearing required during the global pandemic. This makes sense, as wearing a mask makes the eyes the focal point of the face.

"Lash services have really blown up in the past five years. I think my clients like them because it is a low-maintenance, instant-results beauty treatment," explains Shannon Small, a veteran medical esthetician at Bella Santé, in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Generally, lash tinting involves adding a dye to the lashes, following a similar process to dyeing other hair on the body. Typically, the lash technician will apply the dye to the lashes and have you keep your eyes closed for 10 minutes. The whole process takes about 30 minutes. It is a quick treatment with big results that tend to last from about three weeks to a month, says Small.

Is It Safe to Tint Your Lashes During Pregnancy?

There is mixed opinion about whether lash tinting during pregnancy is considered safe. Many experts, including Dr. Andreoli, believe it is low-risk. However, others, including Dr. Gray, suggest taking a pause on getting it done during pregnancy.

The reason for this inconsistency is that there is limited research specifically on lash tinting treatments and each individual dye used. "Hair dyes are generally thought to be safe during pregnancy, although evidence and studies are limited," explains Dr. Andreoli. Also, the safety of having the treatment done is highly dependent on the skill and sanitation practices of the lash expert performing the service.

"Lash lifting and tinting is a very safe treatment to receive; however, any service that is done this close to the face and eyes does involve some general risk and safety precautions," says Small, who has been doing lash tinting and lifts for over 11 years.

From an ophthalmologist's perspective, says Dr. Andreoli, "In general, most cosmetic procedures are safe for most patients," including lash tinting and lifting, when safety precautions are followed. However, it's key to make sure that the dyes used are non-toxic, vegetable-based, and non-permanent.

Permanent dyes or those that irritate the skin or eyes should never be used for lash tinting.

FDA Recommendations

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), "Most eye cosmetics are safe when used properly." However, they also warn that "permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries, including blindness. There are no color additives approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows."

Because of these concerns and the unknowns due to a lack of specific scientific research on lash tinting using vegetable dyes, some doctors recommend skipping the treatments altogether in pregnancy.

"Lash tinting treatments are neither approved nor regulated by the FDA. There are no studies of the use of lash tinting products during pregnancy to confirm or deny their safe use," explains Dr. Gray, who recommends skipping the treatment while pregnant.

Dr. Gray is specifically concerned about the possible ramifications of getting an eye infection from your treatment. Some medications that would typically be used to fight eye infections are not safe for use in pregnancy, says Dr. Gray.

"Eyes are not necessarily more prone to infection during pregnancy; however, the medications used to treat an eye infection may not be compatible with pregnancy. The immune system is altered in pregnancy and may increase risks for a more complicated infection as a result of tissue damage from the eyelash tinting products," explains Dr. Gray. So, she recommends not getting it done while pregnant.

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about tinting your lashes while pregnant.

Is It Safe for Baby?

"Only very small amounts of dye are absorbed through the skin and likely pose very little risk to the fetus, although always check with your ophthalmologist and obstetrician prior to eyelash tinting," says Dr. Andreoli, who generally supports lash tinting in pregnancy.

Dr. Gray also agrees that there is unlikely to be a risk to the developing baby. However, the OB/GYN notes that "none of these products have been tested in a well-designed study performed in pregnant people."

Benefits of Lash Tinting During Pregnancy

The benefits of lash tinting are that you get darker, more defined lashes with limited upkeep. Additionally, research suggests beauty care treatments can promote positive mental health for people who have experienced health-related changes in appearance. This possible boost to self-esteem and general outlook may be particularly salient for many as the body and emotions go through rapid and sometimes challenging changes while expecting.

While there are benefits to lash tinting and many experts give their blessing during pregnancy, some do not. You'll need to consider your own comfort level with the procedure and discuss it with your doctor to determine your personal risk, advises Dr. Andreoli.

Also, note that many of these risks are related to unknowns rather than known risks. Substantial research simply has not been done on lash tinting, and certainly not during pregnancy, to definitively determine if lash tinting with semi-permanent dye can be harmful when proper safety precautions are used.

Furthermore, the FDA does not step to study the safety of beauty treatments unless problems are reported. Note that while they have advised against using permanent dye for lash tinting, they have not done so for semi-permanent dyes.

Additionally, much of any potential risk, assuming you are healthy and have approval from your doctor, can be remediated by getting this treatment done by a knowledgeable professional who uses stringent sanitation measures and only uses semi-permanent vegetable dyes, says Dr. Andreoli. However, only you can decide if you think lash tinting is right for you during pregnancy.

Safety Precautions

If you plan to do lash tinting during pregnancy, there are multiple safety precautions to follow.

Sanitation

"The first thing I’m always extra cautious of is sanitation. Sanitizing all of my tools and keeping a clean space for myself to work and my client to rest their head is extremely important," says Small.

Just like with any other beauty treatment, you'll want to be sure that the salon you go to adheres to scrupulous cleanliness standards. This includes checking that all equipment used is fully sanitized between clients or that single-use equipment is used to prevent infection.

Use Vegetable Dyes

As noted above, do not use permanent dye on your lashes, as these products are not safe for use on or near the eyes. Instead, insist on semi-permanent vegetable dyes only, recommend Small and Dr. Andreoli.

"The ingredients in the lash tinting treatments used can vary from product to product," says Dr. Gray. "Many use a substance called para-phenylenediamine (PPD), which can be an allergen for many people."

Additionally, warns Dr. Gray, vegetable-based dyes may contain hydrogen peroxide, which can cause caustic damage to the skin around the eye and the eye itself. So, check what is in your dye as well to be sure it is free from any ingredient that might be harmful.

Test the Dye

Every person's skin may react differently to a product. This is especially true during pregnancy. "Our skin and soft tissues are more sensitive during pregnancy," explains Dr. Andreoli. Since the skin around the eyes is especially delicate, you don't want to apply it to the lashes before being sure you won't have a negative reaction. "

Test any products away from the face, ideally on the forearm, suggest Dr. Andreoli.

"Products that we typically tolerate can cause significant skin and soft tissue inflammation during pregnancy," warns Dr. Andreoli.

Elevate Your Head

For your own comfort and to avoid compression of the vena cava, a major blood vessel, do not lie flat on your back during the treatment. This is because, after 20 weeks pregnant, the weight of the growing uterus can put too much pressure on this blood vessel.

"During the treatment, I do adjust my table a bit for a pregnant client. Pregnant women cannot lay flat on their backs for long periods of time, so I make sure they are propped up," says Small.

Get Clearance From Your Doctor

"With even the safest approaches, side effects and problematic outcomes can arise, so be sure to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of any procedure before deciding if it is right for you," says Dr. Andreoli. So, talk to your doctor to determine if there are any specific reasons that you should avoid the procedure.

"As a safety precaution, I do ask my pregnant guests to follow up with their physician before booking their lash treatment," says Small. Small also recommends waiting until after the first trimester to do tinting to avoid any possible impact on the fetus during its early development.

When Can I Resume Tinting my Lashes?

If you choose not to do lash tinting during pregnancy, you can safely resume the treatment after pregnancy, says Dr. Gray. However, note that the same concerns about the lack of FDA regulatory oversight exist whether you are pregnant or not. Additionally, the safety precautions of cleanliness, testing the dye on skin away from the face, and choosing an experienced lash technician still apply.

Pregnancy-Safe Alternatives

Instead of tinting your lashes, you can leave them bare or apply mascara if you want a darker lash. Note that eye makeup may be more irritating for some people during pregnancy. So, you may want to weigh the potential irritation or chemical exposure from using makeup against any possible risks of lash tinting.

A Word From Verywell

For many pregnant people, lash tinting is considered safe in pregnancy. However, there are important safety precautions that need to be followed and potential risks to think about. Ultimately, with guidance from your doctor, you can weigh the risks and benefits for yourself and decide if you feel comfortable or not having lash tinting done during pregnancy.

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6 Sources
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