(CONSUMER REPORTS) - Women have been looking for ways to darken and thicken their eyelashes since before the days of Cleopatra. But Consumer Reports says the latest lash-enhancing trends are risky.
In the spotlight these days, super-long lashes from pop star Adele to rap singer Niki Minaj. But Consumer Reports' medical adviser Dr. Orly Avitzur says be careful how you get that long-lash look.
"False eyelashes can trap dirt and bacteria, creating irritation and infection," said Dr. Avitzur. "And they can be difficult to remove."
Up-and-coming singer Vanessa Racioppo wanted her eyes to pop at a photo shoot for her CD cover. But fake eyelashes made her miserable. Her eyelids ached, and taking off the lashes was tough.
"I had to, like, soak my eye and pull really hard," said Racioppo. "And then I kind of pulled some of my eyelashes out. There was irritation."
"It looks like I have lips on my eyelids," said Kristin Chenoweth, an actress.
Chenoweth wore sunglasses on the David Letterman show after her eyelids swelled up. She got what are called eyelash extensions, where single fibers are glued to your individual eyelashes.
"The risks of eyelash extensions are not only an allergic reaction to the glue but erosion of the inner surface of the eyelids," Dr. Avitzur said. "And they can cause permanent damage to your natural lashes."
The Internet promotes even more exotic eyelash enhancements —weaving tiny glass beads onto ultra-thin wire and applying them with an adhesive to your eyelids.
"It doesn't take an expert to see trouble coming with sharp objects placed so close to the eye," said Dr. Avitzur.
Consumer Reports says you're far better off doing what Racioppo does now - just using mascara to give herself fuller, thicker lashes.
Consumer Reports ShopSmart says you should replace mascara every few months, but you don't necessarily need to buy an expensive mascara. A tried-and-true choice is Maybelline Great Lash Mascara for a little more than $6.00 a tube.
You can get more information on eyelash hazards here.