If you’ve gotten eyelash extensions, you may have noticed the whites of your eyes looking a little red and bloodshot, especially on the bottom half of the eye. This is a common side effect that can occur during or after lash extension application. In this article, I’ll explain the possible causes, how to tell if it’s an allergic reaction or just irritation, how long it lasts, and most importantly – how to treat and prevent redness after lash extensions.
What Are Bloodshot Eyes and What Do They Look Like?
Bloodshot eyes occur when the blood vessels on the sclera (the white part of the eye) become swollen or burst. This causes the sclera to appear reddish or pink instead of white.
The most common symptoms of bloodshot eyes include:
- Redness in the sclera, especially on the bottom half of the eye nearest the lower eyelid
- A gritty feeling in the eyes
- Soreness and puffiness around the eyes
- Irritation that makes you want to rub your eyes
Bloodshot eyes can occur in one or both eyes. The redness often looks more pronounced on the bottom half of the eye nearest the lower eyelid and underneath the iris.
What Causes Bloodshot Eyes After Eyelash Extension Treatments?
There are a few reasons why you may experience bloodshot eyes after getting eyelash extensions:
Chemical Irritation from Lash Glue Fumes
The fumes from the cyanoacrylate-based glue used to bond eyelash extensions can cause eye irritation and vasodilation (swelling of blood vessels) in some people. This chemical sensitivity leads to red, bloodshot eyes.
As the glue is applied on each lash during the 1-2 hour treatment, the fumes waft into your eyes. For those with sensitive eyes, this causes:
- Redness and bloodshot eyes
- Dryness and irritation
- Stinging or burning sensation
- Excessive watering/tearing
The redness is often worse on the bottom half of the eye near the lower lid, as this area is closest to the fumes during the treatment. The irritation typically improves within 1-2 days after the procedure as the fumes dissipate.
Allergic Reaction to Glue Ingredients
Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction to cyanoacrylate or other ingredients in the lash adhesive. This causes swelling (edema) of the eyelids and red, irritated eyes.
Signs of an allergic reaction include:
- Severe redness and bloodshot eyes affecting both upper and lower eye
- Itchy and swollen eyelids
- Excessive tearing
- Burning or stinging discomfort
Unlike chemical irritation, allergic reactions tend to worsen over the first 24-48 hours before improving. The redness and swelling may linger for up to 1 week.
Poor Application Technique
Improper lash extension application can also cause eye irritation and bloodshot eyes. This can happen if:
- The technician pokes the eye with the tweezers or eyelash during application
- Poor eye pad placement allows glue seepage onto the lower lid
- Tape touching the waterline (rim of the eye) causes irritation
- The wrong lash length, curl or thickness is used
This mechanical irritation tends to cause temporary redness on the affected area of the eye that resolves within 1-2 days.
Poor Salon Hygiene
When salons neglect proper disinfection of lash equipment and beds, bacteria and viruses can spread. Eye infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye) can occur, leading to discharge, swelling and bloodshot eyes that lasts 5-12 days.
If irritation occurs, not caring properly for lashes after the procedure can worsen swelling. Rubbing eyes aggressively or using oil-based makeup remover too soon can trap bacteria and cause blepharitis (eyelid inflammation).
Some people’s eyes are simply more prone to irritation. Those with a genetic predisposition or history of contacts red eye may experience bloodshot eyes with lash extensions, especially during long 2+ hour treatments.
Chemical Burn vs Allergic Reaction
If your eyes are red after lashes, it’s important to determine whether it’s a mild chemical irritation or allergic response. Here’s how to tell the difference in symptoms, causes and treatment:
| Chemical Burn | Allergic Reaction |
| Redness and irritation worst on lower eye near lashline | Entire eye red and swollen including upper lid |
| Grittiness, dryness, watering caused by glue fumes | Severe itching, burning, swelling of eyelids |
| Starts immediately during/after treatment | Gets worse steadily over 24-48 hours |
| Improves in 1-2 days | Can last 5-7 days |
| Treat with cold compress, eye drops | Oral antihistamine, urgent medical care |
An allergic reaction requires prompt medical attention, while chemical irritation can be managed at home with conservative treatment.
How Long Do Bloodshot Eyes Last After Eyelash Extensions?
The duration of bloodshot eyes depends on the underlying cause:
- Chemical irritation from fumes – 1 to 2 days
- Minor irritation from bad technique – 2 to 4 days
- Allergic reaction – 5 to 7 days
- Conjunctivitis from poor hygiene – 7 to 14 days
If redness and irritation does not improve after 1 day, it’s best to call your lash technician to have the extensions removed. See an optometrist if swelling or pain persists beyond 2 days. Bloodshot eyes lasting over a week require medical assessment to treat any potential infection.
How To Treat Red Eyes After Eyelash Extensions
If you experience bloodshot eyes from lash extensions, here are some safe home remedies:
Over-the-counter eye drops like artificial tears and saline solution provide short-term relief from irritation. Avoid Visine and other vasoconstrictors that could further inflame eyes.
A warm compress helps soothe eyes and increase blood flow. For severe swelling, a cold compress reduces inflammation. Apply for 10 minutes 2-3 times a day.
Oral antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin or Benadryl counteract allergic reactions and reduce swelling and itchiness.
Use diluted baby shampoo to gently cleanse eyelids and lashes, removing glue residue or debris.
For inflamed or swollen eyelids, dermatologist-recommended 1% hydrocortisone cream helps reduce inflammation when applied sparingly to skin.
Chamomile Tea Bags
Placing cooled chamomile tea bags on closed eyelids can help ease irritation. The soothing antioxidants reduce swelling.
Avoid Eye Rubbing
As tempting as it is to rub irritated eyes, this can worsen swelling and even remove lashes.
If home treatment doesn’t improve symptoms after 1-2 days, call your lash professional promptly for removal. Seek medical attention for any worsening eye pain, vision changes or discharge.
How to Prevent Bloodshot Eyes from Eyelash Extensions
You can take steps before and during your lash appointment to prevent eye redness:
- Tell your technician immediately if you feel any discomfort so they can adjust
- Request an allergy patch test on your arm if you have very sensitive skin
- Use preservative-free saline solution instead of oil-based primer if eyes are prone to reaction
- Bring battery-operated fan to increase air ventilation near your eyes
- Use a nano-misting device during service to keep eyes hydrated
- Avoid “mega-volume” lash sets if you have short, thin Asian lashes
- Take breaks during longer services to rest eyes
- Carefully follow aftercare instructions on cleaning and avoiding oil-based products
Open communication with your lash artist is key to a comfortable service. Don’t be afraid to speak up about any eye irritation during the appointment.
FAQ About Bloodshot Eyes After Lash Extensions
How long does the redness last?
For a mild chemical irritation, redness usually resolves within 1-2 days. Allergic reactions can cause bloodshot eyes for up to 1 week.
Is it normal to have red eyes after?
Mild redness is common and expected, especially on the lower eye near the lashline. But significant irritation, swelling or vision changes are NOT normal – seek medical help promptly.
Can I wear contacts after lash extensions?
It’s best to avoid wearing contacts for at least 24 hours after the procedure to prevent discomfort and further irritation.
Should I remove the lashes if my eyes are red?
Yes, call your lash artist immediately for removal if the redness does not improve after 1 day. Leaving extensions on irritated eyes can worsen reactions.
When should I see a doctor for bloodshot eyes?
Seek medical help if redness is severe, accompanied by pain or gets worse over 2-3 days. Also if vision problems, discharge or eyelid swelling develops.
The Bottom Line
In most cases, minor bloodshot eyes after lash extensions are caused by temporary irritation from the glue fumes. This improves within a day or two with conservative treatment.
However, worsening redness, swelling or pain can signal a more serious reaction, infection or injury, and requires prompt medical attention. Communicate any discomfort to your lash artist immediately and follow proper aftercare. Don’t hesitate to remove lashes if symptoms don’t resolve quickly.
With proper application, aftercare and precautions like avoiding oil-based products near the eyes, most people can enjoy lush lashes without redness or reactions. But know when to call your technician or doctor to prevent lasting damage to your vision and eye health.