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Utah Department of Commerce
Undated photo of an eye infection resulting from application of eyelash extension by an unlicensed provider. The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is warning the public about possible health risks associated with using unlicensed providers for eyelash and eyebrow extensions that require lash-by-lash application.

SALT LAKE CITY — A public warning was issued Thursday by The Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing about possible health risks associated with using unlicensed providers for eyelash and eyebrow extensions that require lash-by-lash application.

The demand for the popular cosmetic procedures has grown through social media, and investigators say so has the appearance of unlicensed providers who claim they are “certified” pitching their services, said Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce.

Between January 2015 and May 2016, investigators from the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing issued 67 citations for unlicensed eyelash and eyebrow applications. While some providers have taken classes to become "certified," this type of cosmetic procedure requires a Utah cosmetology or aestheticians license issued by the division, she said.

“While eyelash and brow extensions are popular trends on Facebook and Instagram, don’t let fashion distract you from using a licensed provider in a clean environment,” Giani cautioned. “Young people especially need to watch for red flags such as low prices and unsanitary conditions where these eye-related services are provided.”

Andrea Land, 28, runs a salon from her basement in Roy. She received her license at the Davis Applied Technology College and certification through Borboleta Beauty, a Utah County-based cosmetic education and products company specializing in premium eyelash extension training for professional aestheticians.

She said the number of citations issued for unlicensed services should probably be even higher.

“Everyone thinks they can do lashes, regardless of if they have been trained or not,” she said. “People aren’t educated enough to know that they need to go to someone who is licensed, so they’ll just go to anyone who is cheap.”

Prices for eyelash and eyebrow services can range from $55 to more than $160, she said.

Eyelash and brow extensions are applied through single synthetic fibers glued one-by-one to natural eyelashes with formaldehyde-based adhesives or other biologic glues. There are health concerns when an unlicensed person applies the eye products in an unsanitary environment or near airborne dust, such as from nail salon services, said Maci Willie, 19, of West Haven.

She recently received her license in cosmetology after completing her studies — first at Ogden Applied Technology College before finishing up at the Davis Applied Technology College campus. She said there is a number of health risks involved with receiving eyelash and eyebrow services from nonprofessionals, and those risks could increase greatly in a less-than-optimal environment.

“You could get a lot of dust that can cause infections,” she said.

The adhesives may also cause allergic reactions, as well as the solvents used to remove the extensions, noted Mark Steinagel, director of the state Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

“What is concerning about unlicensed eyelash procedures is that many consumers may assume they are harmless and without health risk,” Steinagel said. “Consumers should carefully research who is providing these services with (our agency), make sure they are licensed, have the correct training and check the facility before signing up for these services.”

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Safety tips

Tips to make sure you protect yourself when seeking cosmetic services for eyelash or brow extensions:

  • Confirm the provider is a currently licensed cosmetologist or aesthetician. Have them show you their state issued license. Also, note that being certified is not the same as being licensed to provide cosmetology or aesthetics services.
  • Check for proper sanitary conditions. Make sure the service is being done in a dedicated aesthetician area free from airborne particles, such as near a nail services area that may add dust to the air and could potentially impact your eyes.
  • Consumers should carefully research providers of cosmetic services and understand that a low price may not always offer a bargain value, but could mean additional risks.
  • Source: Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

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