Are your products safe? (Blog by Frankie Widdows) - flirties
Clients suffering allergic reactions to lash extensions, lash artists developing respiratory problems, does this sound familiar, if so, read on.
If you are one of the “lucky” artists that have never had a client suffer a reaction, or you do not currently suffer with respiratory issues since working in the lash industry, then we urge you to still read the below.
This could be some of the most vital information you learn during your lash career.

Here at Eyelash Excellence, we are passionate about providing safe products to the lash industry. We are also passionate about educating the industry about all things lashes. We work closely with our UK manufacturers to ensure that we have an excellent understanding of not only our ingredients but the legislation governing cosmetic based products and the long terms effects that many unregulated lash products are having on the health of not only our clients but ourselves as lash artists.
As the lash industry continues to grow, we of course continue to see new products being developed overtime. These products are sold across the globe to an International industry. But how many lash artists “really” know what ingredients are in their products and most importantly, are safe?
As a result of the above, we have been studying cosmetic based lash products entering the UK from the Far East (which is where most lash products are manufactured). We wanted to see the quality and safety of the influx of these new products, which are now extremely cheap to buy.
Our research and findings over the years has left us horrified, we have seen most products entering the UK containing ingredients that are not approved or banned altogether, yet they are still making their way into the market and being used on clients.
So how is this happening?
The International lash industry is unregulated and there is no global organisation that polices the safety of the cosmetic products we use across the globe. Lash artists are unknowingly buying non approved and unregulated products that pose serious health risk to not only themselves but their clients. The lash industry is relatively new, therefore the long term health risks have yet to be identified. Give it 5-10 years and we will sadly be seeing extremely sick clients and lash artists as a result of using unsafe products due to an unregulated industry.
At Eyelash Excellence we felt it was time to educate the industry so that they understand the real truth as to what is really happening and we hope that you will join us in our mission to stamp our unregulated cosmetic based products to protect our clients, ourselves and the industry.
What is a cosmetic product?
Cosmetics are constituted from a mixture of chemical compounds derived from either natural sources or synthetically created ones. Cosmetics can be classed as products such as skin care or body cleansers as well as those designed to enhance one's appearance (makeup etc). In addition, they can also fall into the category of any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body.
From this, we can see that lash products certainly fall into the category of cosmetics – namely the liquid-based products we use – NOT accessories!
  • NOT ACCESSORIES (lashes, mascara wands, applicators, tweezers etc.)
Cosmetic legislations covering cosmetic lash-based products.

Below you will see a quick overview of the cosmetic legislations covering just a few of the main countries across the globe:

(UK & EU) The UK and European cosmetic products are covered by robust safety legislation, the EU Cosmetic Products Regulation 1223/2009 (CPR).

(USA) The USA FDA regulates cosmetics under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act)

(AUS) In Australia the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS)” is responsible for managing cosmetic based products.

(CAD) All cosmetics sold in Canada must be safe to use and must not pose any health risk. They must meet the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and the Cosmetic regulations.
There are many different regulations covering each country, therefore it can be a minefield to know whether our lash cosmetics are covered in your country and most importantly safe.
Most cosmetic based lash products are NOT manufactured within the country you live in, therefore do you know that what you buying is really that safe, or approved within your country? It is even harder for the suppliers to ensure that what they are buying in from the manufacturer conforms to their country’s regulations, or the countries that they distribute to – and of course is SAFE!!!!

The main manufacturers of our lash products are based in countries that you will see below.
 China – lashes/accessories/liquids
 Vietnam – lashes/accessories/liquids
 Korea – lashes/accessories/liquids
 Pakistan – tweezers/tools
So why do we choose to buy our products from outside of our own countries and not just work with manufacturers much closer to home?
  • Cheap products ($2-5 wholesale price for adhesives/primers/lash trays etc.)
  • Cheap shipping,
  • Mass produced
  • Wide selection (suppliers can source every product they retail from one manufacturer)
  • High strength (cosmetics) – long retention (who doesn’t love lashes that last weeks?)
  • Main countries that manufacturer (no choice but to buy from outside of your own country)
Of course, we all love a bargain but when we buy cheap cosmetic products, they are usually cheap for a reason. Cosmetics that contain “high quality ingredients” do not come cheap. Not only to cover the quality of the base products, but the costs of having these cosmetics approved to meet safety regulations.
Safety certifications have to be outsourced to independent companies; this comes at a high price. Outside agencies have to be brought in to certify every cosmetic product to approve it for safe use. This costs companies thousands of dollars, which will eat into any profits. When products are already being manufactured for super cheap, can you be confident that high quality cosmetic products, that have been independently certified can cost only $2-5 wholesale?
The answer is no and you know that, but why do we still hunt out the cheapest product?

The reality is that safe cosmetic lash products with the correct certifications, can actually cost suppliers 5-8 times as much as this to buy in at wholesale. This is why many lash suppliers choose cheap cosmetic products, either unknowingly or unethically.
What are the issues that lash supplier encounter when outsourcing abroad?
Firstly, finding trusted and ethical manufacturers is time consuming, costly, hard work. It takes heavy investment as well as months if not years to source, test and produce products. When you outsource overseas, the Brand trusts the manufacturer's word that they’re following all the specifications and that the finished product will be safe, effective, and what they’ve promised. Many manufacturers quote a very low price to produce their products, a price they can’t actually meet at their facility. Without the brands knowledge, they actually outsource to a much less expensive factory and make a small profit. The brand now has no idea who’s producing their product (and how it’s being produced).
Quality starts high then decreases overtime – they have the brands money as well as months of time and sample costs.
A common scenario:
Manufacturers substitute a brand’s ingredients for lower-quality, lower-cost ingredients without consulting the brand. So, the product the brand thinks they’re selling has been altered in ways they aren’t even aware of. When products are produced overseas, brands have little or no visibility into their production. While they can provide specifications on ingredients and production methods, they can’t be sure these guidelines are being followed.
Think back to a time when a product you have always used seemed to have changed formula, yet your seller claims this isn’t the case. The seller isn’t being dishonest, they personally haven’t but the manufacturer has.

Unless that seller tests every product they sell, it is impossible for them to have 100% quality control.
Now imagine the health effects that the change of ingredients/quality products can have on an individual when using cosmetic based products. If a manufacturer chooses to substitute an ingredient in any of our Lash based cosmetic products, this can easily go undetected and cause serious risk to clients. When cost is the main priority, that means other aspects like safety, quality, and ethics take a backseat. If savings can be found by choosing lower quality ingredients or producing under unethical conditions, then so be it.
How is the allowed to happen?
Because no one polices the production or export/importation of cosmetic based products. Very few cosmetics are ever inspected for quality and safety on entry into a country. The FDA only inspects about 0.3% of imported cosmetics into the USA. Think how many unsafe products are imported every day.

Here at Eyelash Excellence we are not only passionate about producing safe products, but conforming to the very strict safety regulation that govern the UK and Europe which we were a part of until recently.
We cannot do what many other lash suppliers outside of the EU do, which is buy in cosmetic based products from East Asia as they do not comply with our strict regulations – they actually all fall very short of what is classed as safe.
Instead, we have to have our cosmetic based products manufactured in either the UK or EU to ensure we conform and most importantly so that we as sellers, are 100% confident that what we are selling is safe. This costs us ‘a lot’ more than the $2-5 wholesale price that many sellers pay for their cosmetic products. However, because no one actually policies the importation of cosmetic lash products, we could choose to buy cheap lash products and retail them to the industry. However, we are ethical suppliers and would never risk health for profit.
Below you will see the regulations that we must conform to under UK Legislation
Correct SDS:
The SDS provides the safety information for that product. It includes ingredients that require to be known for safety issues, skin irritant, harmful, as well as information for transport, safety details for labelling, anything that is relevant to the safety side of the product.

Labelling – GHS Compliant:
GHS stands for the Globally Harmonized System of the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals. It is a set of guidelines for ensuring the safe production, transport, handling, use and disposal of chemicals. The vast majority of labels from suppliers outside of Europe do not meet these requirements.
REACH Compliant:
REACH is a regulation of the European Union, adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals, while enhancing the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry. … REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals.
Most lash adhesives are not REACH compliant?
CMR – Conflict Mineral Reporting Compliant:
EU cosmetics legislation contains provisions on the use of substances classified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, or toxic for reproduction (CMR substances) in cosmetic products. The use of CMR substances is prohibited and should never be present in lash adhesives – many outside the EU do.

CAS Number
A universally recognized number and used to provide a unique, unmistakable identifier for chemical substances. Many lash products have either no or the incorrect CAS numbers.
Why are many UK lash artists using “banned” products?
Many UK lash artists are unknowingly buying in lash cosmetics that are do not conform to our safety standards. Amazon, eBay, AliExpress etc all sell cheap cosmetic lash products with super quick shipping.

Many now choose to buy their supplies from these cheap sites for price and convenience. These sites do not police their cosmetics. Consumers assume that because they can buy it, then it must be safe.
If you are outside of the UK or EU then it is likely you are reading this and thinking “this does not apply to me, so I will keep buying my usual products.” You are WRONG!
The UK/EU has extremely strict regulations (some of the safest in the world. ) If we have deemed it to be unsafe, there is evidence to suggest it is unsafe for humans. Just because you live/work outside of the EU does not make you immune to the potential health risks. Millions of pounds are spent researching the safety of these products, other countries should not ignore this. Use these findings to draw an International safety standard. This is why many reputable lash suppliers are now sourcing cosmetic lash products from UK/EU.
If you are still unconvinced, let us share some more evidence with you:
As stated above, we at Eyelash Excellence have been working with our UK manufacturers and studying other cosmetic based products that we are seeing entering the UK from the Far East. We have been horrified by some of the cosmetic based products we have seen that contain ingredients that are not approved or banned.

Below are just a few of the extremely harmful ingredients we have seen in cosmetic based lash products that are available to buy.
This carries many warnings and is not approved for use. This substance is fatal if inhaled, causes serious eye irritation, may cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure, is suspected of causing cancer, is harmful if swallowed, causes skin irritation, may cause respiratory irritation, may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled and may cause an allergic skin reaction.
N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)
This ingredient is toxic to the reproductive system of male and female test animals. The reproductive effects of NMP in humans have not been studied (there is a reason for this). Based on the animal tests, you should treat NMP as a potential human reproductive hazard. Many lash artists are unknowingly using cosmetic lash products that contain NPM. Most lash artists and clients are women of childbearing age, and are being exposed on a regular occurrence to this ingredient.
Phthalic anhydride / Polymethylene polyphenyl polyisocyanate)
The acute (short-term) effects from exposure in humans consists of irritation to the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin. Chronic (long-term) effects observed in workers exposed are conjunctivitis, rhinoconjunctivitis, bronchitis, and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Animal studies indicate that chronic exposure to these vapors causes congestion, irritation, and injury to lung cells.
How many of you reading this have developed these above respiratory symptoms over the years?
This is not just “one of these things”, instead it can be prevented if you use safe cosmetic lash products.

When you use safe and approved products, is it ‘very’ rare that a client will experience a reaction. Of course, it is not impossible, however quality cosmetic products go through rigorous testing and approval to ensure they are safe, and reactions are rare.

Most client’s that react, do so to either poor products, or an underlying intolerance to poor products used on them overtime. So even if they are then swapped over to good quality products, the body already has an intolerance lying in wait and exposure to any product (even good quality) can then aggravate an underlying intolerance.
Since Frankie Widdows (founder of Eyelash Excellence) developed her own brand in 2015, she has had zero reactions from clients wearing her Eyelash Excellence products. NB – these were clients that had NOT worn lashes previously elsewhere for long periods and may have been already exposed to poor quality cosmetic based lash products.
How do you know the ingredients in your cosmetic lash products?
Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to know, as manufacturers do not list their full ingredients, or exact formulations. The reasons for this is to prevent theft of a product.
Many believe that the SDS will provide them with what they need to know, however the SDS is only to provide the safety information as discussed before. It will only include the ingredients that are required to be known for safety issues: skin irritant, harmful, as well as information for transport, safety details for labelling, anything that is relevant to the safety side of the product.
Just to reiterate: Many SDS that are from other countries do not meet these requirements, for example – keeping ingredient details a secret, or the percentage of ingredients that simply do not add up!
However, many manufacturers from the Far East attempt to get around this and use the SDS to include what looks like the full formula, giving exact percentages, all adding up to 100% composition, therefore making the SDS looking much more conclusive to those with little knowledge of SDS which are most lash artists.
How do we get around this?
It is actually very simple! Buy only from trusted sellers: (who is the brand owner/are they a lash expert/do they educate about the quality of their product. You should be able to google your brand and easily find out who is behind it. What is their ethos, where do they manufacturer their products etc.
Please Avoid Amazon/Ebay/ Aliexpress etc. This is where many cheap and unregulated products are sold. These sites do not police their products which is why you can buy anything from them. There will be times where trusted sellers choose to use these sites as another platform but on the whole avoid.
Interestingly, many ethical global lash brands now have their cosmetic based products manufactured in the UK/EU for all the reasons we have discussed. Use the suppliers to source your products from so that you can be 100% confident that you are working with safe products. Do not line the pockets of unethical suppliers.

You may be worried that it will cost you too much to buy safe products, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many ethical lash brands just like us at Eyelash Excellence that source only safe products and still retail for an affordable price. For us ethical suppliers what we do is about passion and not profit so please support those brands.

If we all pull together, we can all take a stance against these unethical, unsafe products saturating our industry and will eventually destroy it if we do not try to change things.
We would like to thank Frankie for letting us share this vital information. Whilst every brand had got different suppliers we fullheartedly agree with Frankie and we can't emphasize enough how important this information is. Needless to say that flirties complies and most of the core products are produced in the UK or Europe to ensure safety for you and your clients! 
July 28, 2021 — office Team

Leave a comment

Please note: comments must be approved before they are published.