Everything Cosmetologists Need to Know About Offering Brow and Lash Tinting

Barely there lashes and eyebrows peppered with gray hairs have made brow and lash tinting a popular service in spas and salons everywhere and cosmetologists are often the stars of the show.

Adding brow and lash tinting to your list of styling and pampering services is a great way to build a loyal clientele. But first it’s important to learn more about the benefits—and the risks—of brow and lash tinting:

Should I Offer Brow and Lash Tinting as Part of My Cosmetology Services?

The FDA refuses to approve any dyes for facial hair, and several states have even banned licensed cosmetologists and estheticians from performing brow and lash tinting. However, on the opposite end of the spectrum, clients continue to flock to their hairdressers and skin care specialists for this popular service and countless stylists successfully perform the service every day with few problems.

One of the problems that continue to plague the beauty industry is a lack of clear regulation as it pertains to certain services, which can muddy the waters a bit for practitioners looking to stay within the scope of their license while still offering clients the services they ask for.

For example, we know that the FDA, to date, hasn’t approved any color additives used to tint the brows or lashes. However, the lack of FDA approval doesn’t mean that salons can’t perform this service—that’s something that falls under the jurisdiction of state and local cosmetology and esthetics boards.

As a cosmetologist, this may leave you pondering whether brow and lash tinting should be on the list of services you offer. In general, cosmetologists should feel pretty comfortable offering these services based on their extensive training and education in hair bleaching and dying and based on the way most state licensing laws read

What’s more is that although some states clearly forbid the practice of brow and lash dyeing among estheticians and cosmetologists, the service is still widely available. For example, although New York does not technically allow cosmetologists to perform brow and lash dyeing, it’s relatively easy to find salons throughout NYC that readily offer this service.

In addition to cosmetologists, estheticians in Washington State are permitted to provide tinting services for hair-not-on-the-scalp, provided they use a product specifically formulated for that purpose. Likewise, estheticians and cosmetologists in Massachusetts may perform eyebrow and eyelash tinting, provided they use “only products manufactured for the purpose of tinting, coloring, or dyeing eyebrows and eyelashes and according to best practices in compliance with the standard of professional care.”

Confused yet? You’re not alone. Therefore, your best bet is to first check with your state regulatory agency to find out whether brow and lash tinting is a permitted service under your state esthetician or cosmetologist license.

Then you should weigh the benefits and risks and decide if you are comfortable performing this service. For many practicing estheticians and cosmetologists, additional training through a formal course provides the confidence they need to safely and effectively perform brow and lash tinting.

An esthetics course or program in brow and lash tinting will include both theory and hands-on training that covers:

  • How to test patch the dye
  • How to mix the dye to achieve the desired results
  • How to prepare the eyelashes and eyebrows for the dye
  • How to apply the dye
  • How to remove the dye and clean the brows and lashes
  • Sanitation and safety

What is Brow and Lash Tinting?

Brow and lash tinting uses a semi-permanent hair color specifically formulated for the brows and lashes. It is often used to darken fair eyelashes and eyebrows, cover gray hairs, match eyebrows and lashes to hair color, and emphasize lashes and brows without makeup.

Brow and lash dye is not the same as hair dye. In fact, hair dye has clear warnings that it is not safe for use on the face. Brow and lash dye is a semi-permanent dye (usually a vegetable dye) that lasts between three and four weeks. Most brow and lash dyes come in a thick paste that reduces the likelihood of the product running onto the skin or into the eyes.

How are the Brows and Lashes Dyed?

First, Vaseline or a protective cream is used around the eyes and brows to provide a protective coating for the skin. Small eye pads are placed under each closed eye.

Using a cotton applicator or brush with fine bristles, the dye is applied to the eyebrows and/or eyelashes and left there for about fifteen minutes. The excess dye is wiped away with water and a gentle cleanser.

What are the Benefits of Brow and Lash Tinting?

Brow and lash tinting has become a very popular offering at spas and esthetics practices because it is a quick, inexpensive, and painless procedure that yields long-lasting results. Brow and lash tinting defines sparse brows and lashes and eliminates the need for brow pencils and mascara. It also provides a close match to hair color and covers up gray hairs in the brows.

Is it Safe to Dye the Brows and Lashes?

That all depends on who you ask. Estheticians have been successfully and safely dyeing the brows and lashes of their clients for many years. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and some states, however, have a problem with the safety of dyeing the lashes and brows.

In fact, the FDA has yet to approve any dyes for the purpose of eyebrow and eyelash tinting and has gone as far as to keep a 1982 FDA alert warning of eyelash and eyebrow dyes that contain coal-tar dyes in effect. Coal-tar dyes have been found to cause everything from irritation to blindness if they come in contact with the eyes. The FDA refers to coal-tar as a “severe hazard to health with the possibility of permanent injury.”

Vegetable dyes have become a popular alternative to coal-tar dyes in the meantime. However, side effects and allergic reactions are also possible with these dyes. Some of the side effects of eyebrow and eyelash dyes include granulomas (small areas of inflamed tissue), contact dermatitis (rash), and eye infection.

It is best to perform a small patch test to check for potential allergies beforehand and to always have a saline solution on hand to flush out the eyes in case the product seeps into the eyes.

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