2.5 Contraindications and contra-actions

You’ve now got a firm grasp on the biology of the eyelid and eyelash. Well done! While this level of knowledge is a prerequisite for your progression within this course, it is worth mentioning that (unfortunately!) many lash technicians will lack this critical knowledge due to sub-standard training courses and programs, and so you are likely already better educated than many of your soon-to-be competitors.

The final important component of your foundational biological knowledge is to gain an appreciation for the more common adverse conditions, irritations and reactions associated with the eyes and eye region.

Contra what?

If you have ever received a beauty or cosmetic treatment, or visited the website of a responsible provider of these, you may have heard or seen the words contraindications and contra-actions before. But what do these actually mean? We’re glad you asked!


The term contraindication originated in the medical field. When broken down into its components, it is defined as:

  • contra – against, opposite to;
  • indication – a symptom that suggests a certain medical treatment is necessary.

When combined, the term contraindication is thus defined as a condition or factor that serves as a reason to refuse treatment due to the potential harm that treatment may cause to you or your client.

While the term originated in medicine, it is now widely used across many facets of beauty, health and personal services industries. In simple terms, it is any condition under which you should either refuse treatment to someone altogether, or only proceed with treatment after additional safety measures are carried out.

The best way to get your head around contraindications is to learn what they are, and why they prevent treatment. Below is a table that outlines common contraindications relating to eyelash extension application, and a brief description as to why they are deemed as such. As mentioned above, some contraindications may not prevent treatment entirely, however will require an additional safety measure to ensure the preservation of the health and safety of your client and/or yourself. These are labelled with an asterisks (*) and the additional requirement discussed in the description.

Contraindications to eyelash extension application

Contraindication Why?
Previous reaction to cyanoacrylate or other lash adhesive ingredientFor obvious reasons. Cyanoacrylate is the key ingredient in all lash adhesives and can bring on an allergic reaction in a small minority of people.
Evidence of eye inflammation or infectionSome salons/lash technicians will attempt to list every medical condition that can affect the eye as a contraindication. It is not your job to diagnose eye conditions. If an eye looks unhealthy (red, swollen, crust/discharge or a stye present) advise your client you cannot treat them until all symptoms have cleared.
Cuts or open wounds in the region of the eyesFor multiple reasons. While generally tolerable to the skin’s surface, lash adhesive is more likely to cause irritation to an open wound. Also, despite your best efforts to maintain a clean treatment field, it is unlikely you will be able to maintain an aseptic working environment (one that is completely free from bacteria and harmful microorganisms). As such, there is an increased risk of infection to the wound.
Cosmetic tattoo (permanent makeup) to the eye region in the past 2 weeksCosmetic tattooing is achieved through a procedure called micro-blading, which involves making tiny incisions in the epidermis and implanting medical grade pigment. For this reason, and much like the previous contraindication, there is an increased risk of irritation and/or infection to the area.
Hypersensitive skin*As the name suggests, hypersensitive skin is hyper-reactive to a range of factors of varying harshness that are otherwise tolerated by normal skin. The condition is characterised by irritation and visible reactions when exposed to usually innocuous internal or external stressors (such as extreme temperature, certain chemicals or UV rays). As mentioned above, while generally tolerable to the skin’s surface, lash adhesive (or, specifically, cyanoacrylate) can cause irritation.
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