The cost of these services is relatively inexpensive, but the damage that can occur from a
careless application or improperly trained technician can be irreparable. Most of these precautions are common sense, but many women
are often intimidated by the hairdressers they visit, particularly if they are new to the salon, or often they find themselves rushed
on through and feel they have no opportunity to speak up.
Only recently has the technique of dyeing the lashes and brows become popular in the U.S.
This is in part due to the warnings of the United States’ Food and Drug Administration. According to a February 1995 article, in
1933, a product that was being used to dye eyelashes was cause allergic reactions in many women. Two women in particular suffered
particularly harsh reactions – one becoming permanently blind, and the other dying as a result of exposure to the product. This
prompted considerable controversy in the legislative branch of government (who had at that time no authority established to restrict
cosmetic products) and five years later, the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act was passed. The product responsible for the reactions and
causing the uproar was seized.
Since that time, the FDA has continuously warned the public against using coal-tar dyes
on the eyebrows and lashes, since such use could cause serious, permanent injury to the eyes, including blindness. It should be noted,
however that the salons and spas who offer these services are not violating any laws, unless they claim that any of the products being
used are FDA approved for the purpose of tinting the lashes or brows.
While the numbers of cases of reactions has been minimal, and the products being used are
themselves much differently formulated to be milder for use in these delicate areas. The FDA has NOT approved ANY hair-dyes for use
around the eyes. While no products currently bear the approval of the FDA for the purpose of dyeing the eyelashes and eyebrows, there
are specific products, or rather specific ingredients that are used in some lash and brow dyes that are actively being banned from
import into the United States. The ingredient is called Kohl, but is also known as Kajal, Al-Kahl, or Surma.
This substance has been directly linked to increased levels of lead in children and is
being censured as a lead-poisoning hazard. According to the FDA, products containing kohl (or kajal, al-kahl, or surma) are NOT legal
in the United States. Many of the products containing these substances are imported from parts of Africa, the Middle East, Iran,
Pakistan, and India, kohl now sometimes appears in Europe and North America, especially in some Middle Eastern and Asian specialty
markets. Some of these products are falsely labeled as being “FDA Approved”, but it should be remembered that NO product for dyeing
eyelashes or eyebrows has that distinction.
***Note: There are many cosmetic products that include the word “kohl” to indicate the
specific color shade. In some cases, this is merely a color reference, and the product is perfectly safe and legal in the U.S. However,
you should make certain to check any such product for ingredient listings and verify that there are none of the kohl, kajal, al-kahl or
surma ingredients in the product, specifically if the product is purchased from a specialty shop that imports products from the Middle East or Asia.