This Popular Salon Treatment Might Soon Be Illegal

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As someone with very light blond eyelashes, I decided to have them dyed a couple years ago, and it wasn’t pretty. My eyes watered (they’re watering just thinking about it) the whole time, and as a result, the dye was hardly able to take effect. I was so focused on the possibility of waking up with perfectly dark lashes that I didn’t even think about the chemicals that might be lurking in the dye, and therefore in my eyes. But, of course this is something the FDA has thought about, and if specific action is taken, it could mean the end of lash and brow tinting in the U.S.

The important thing to note here is that no dyes for lash and brow tinting have ever been approved by the FDA, and in California, it’s illegal for any licensed professional to have brow or lash tint in their possession or in a salon, and to administer the tint on or anywhere near the eyes. The FDA has said, “Don’t dye eyelashes and eyebrows. No color additives are approved by FDA for permanent dyeing or tinting of eyelashes and eyebrows. Permanent eyelash and eyebrow tints and dyes have been known to cause serious eye injuries.”

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In a statement issued to Refinery29 by the California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, “the FDA has informed the Board that, currently, the additives used in lash/brow tints are not approved for use around the eye area,” and went on to state that “unless it’s been approved by the FDA, the California Code of Regulations doesn’t allow any education on the treatment in schools.”

The additives in question here are potentially dangerous coal-tar dyes that the FDA says are often formulated in dyes made overseas and then shipped to the U.S. According to an FDA statement: “The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Health Hazard evaluation Board, evaluated the medical evidence related to a consumer injury along with scientific literature for coal-tar dyes. Based on the review, the products listed in the attachment represented an acute, severe hazard to health with the possibility of permanent injury; i.e., impaired sight, including blindness.”

Rumor has it that unless a manufacturer creates a dye that the FDA can regulate, other states might catch on soon and ban tinting there as well. 

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