Problem: A friend of mine gets her eyelashes and eyebrows dyed at the hair salon she goes to. The effect is really rather impressive and I'm tempted to try this myself. Her blonde lashes look dark and long, even without mascara. What do you think?

Solution: Unfortunately, my solution isn't much of a solution, because all I can do is strongly say "Don't do it!" The only safe solution for making lashes and brows more visible is to use mascara on the eyelashes and shade your eyebrows, either with an eyeshadow that matches your hair color, an eyebrow pencil, or a brow mascara like Bobbi Brown's Natural Brow Shaper. But first let me give you a little history on why my answer is such an emphatic "no." Back in 1933, a congressional controversy was brewing over the need for new and stronger food, cosmetic, and drug laws. At the time, the FDA had no authority to move against a cosmetic product called Lash Lure that was causing allergic reactions in many women. Two women, in fact, suffered severe reactions to the product; one woman became blind and the second woman died. When the new Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act was passed in 1938, Lash Lure was the first product seized under its authority. A lot of time has passed since then, and although hair and lash dyes have changed a great deal, they are still formulated with peroxide and ammonia or ammonia-like ingredients. If a dye doesn't contain those ingredients, it can't affect hair color.

No one should ever dye her eyelashes or eyebrows. An allergic reaction to the dye could prompt swelling, inflammation, and susceptibility to infection in the eye area. These reactions can severely harm the eye and even cause blindness. The FDA absolutely prohibits the use of hair dyes for eyebrow and eyelash tinting or dyeing, even in beauty salons and other establishments. The FDA has also continuously warned the public about the use of coal-tar dyes on the eyebrows and eyelashes, stating that using them could cause permanent injury to the eyes, including blindness.

There are no natural or synthetic color additives (or coloring agents) approved by the FDA for dyeing or tinting eyelashes and eyebrows—either in beauty salons or in the home. In fact, the law requires all hair-dye products to include instructions for performing patch tests before use, to identify possible allergic reactions, and to carry warnings about the dangers of applying these products to eyebrows and eyelashes. The health hazards of permanent eyelash and eyebrow dyes have been known for more than 60 years. These dyes have repeatedly been cited in scientific literature as capable of causing serious reactions when placed in direct contact with the eye.