Counter Confidential: Lash Application is More Dangerous Than You Think

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"Lash Application is More Dangerous Than You Think"

by Undercover Beauty Agent


In addition to a lifetime supply of makeup products to play with, most beauty counters also offer services like mini-facials, custom makeup application, or hair demos. It’s easy to forget that you’re in a department or beauty store as you’re getting groomed, but the counter is not a salon or day spa. The difference is even more palpable when it comes to applying false lashes.

As a makeup artist, I enjoy putting on false lashes on my clients—it makes a massive difference when creating looks that are sweet and innocent or sexy and demure. But when I am working in retail, at a beauty counter, I’m not allowed to touch falsies.  This rule applies to many, if not all, department stores.

Sometimes I’m heartbroken to say “no.” My counter has a wall of unique, colorful lashes on display. After I did a full-face application on one woman, she begged me to apply a pair for her, but I had to fill her in on the falsie regulations.

She threw a fit and yelled that I was lazy in front of my coworkers and other customers. She pointed out that someone else at a different store would put them on for her. I brought my manager around, and my boss said the same thing—our counter would not put lashes on her, but the licensed esthetician at our brow bar would do them for an extra fee.

Yes, my customer was distressed and ultimately left unsatisfied, but the rules are there for a reason. So from retailers ‘round the world to you, here’s why your counter may not do lash applications.

Why the big fuss?

Though every counter and department store is different, there are legal issues when it comes to false lashes. If you get an infection or something happens to your eye because the eyelash application was applied incorrectly, the counter is held liable. An artist might think they know what they’re doing, but most artists at the counter, though trained, are not licensed when it comes to decontamination, bacteriology, and hygiene. There are so many things that can go wrong when glue is that close to your eye. It’s just better to be safe.

The counter is not a spa.

While a counter might have some spa or salon-like services, most counters are not a state-recognized spas. The difference? A health inspector visits salons or spas, grading them on cleanliness and hygiene. These institutions can be shut down if not up to code, so it’s much more sanitary to try your luck there first when wanting to try a new lash look.

We don’t have the supplies.

Though at-home lash application can be a little more lenient, lashes should not be applied to others with bare fingers. Tweezers are a must, and scissors are also needed to fit a client’s individual needs. Most counters are not allowed to have scissors or tweezers on the floor for safety and hygiene reasons. We don’t have the means to keep them sanitized, even if a beauty artist carries their own. We can apply eye liner to the lash line simply because it’s easy to clean and keep hygienic. To prevent artists from being persuaded to put on lashes anyway, some counters have stopped selling lash glue altogether, so there’s absolutely no way of getting them on safely and hygienically.

Who should apply lashes?

It doesn’t matter if it’s regular strips or semi-permanent individual lashes, always see a licensed esthetician or cosmetologist. Their license will usually be framed at the front of the counter. Your local brow bar is probably the best option if you want false lashes for the day. Typically, they’ll ask you to sign a waiver that says they are not held responsible if anything should happen. If all else fails, learn to apply fake lashes yourself!

Undercover Beauty Agent is just an average makeup artist at your local beauty counter who's reporting true stories exclusively for Beautylish: "I love what I do because I get to make people feel beautiful on a daily basis. I'm a beauty advisor in New York City by day and a secret beauty agent by night, totally ready to share all my insider secrets and gossip."