In May of 2023, spas in New York began receiving notices that some of their services may be illegal. Eyelash, eyebrow tinting, and lash lifts have been a cornerstone of cosmetic enhancement over the past several decades. Based on a law implemented in the mid-90s, the New York Department of State is now enforcing restrictions on services surrounding the eyes across the state. Locations violating this law may be fined up to $500, and many spas and salons are suspending these procedures.

Eyebrow and eyelash tinting is a beauty procedure where semi-permanent dye is painted onto eyebrows or eyelashes to make them appear thicker, darker, and fuller. The procedure can take as little as 15 minutes, but the color can last about 3 to 6 weeks. A lash lift is a cosmetic procedure meant to curl your existing eyelashes, giving the appearance of longer, fuller lashes. This is done by applying a chemical solution meant to break down and then reorganize the disulfide bonds in your lashes, causing a curled effect. Next, a solution is added over the lash, which sits for about 15 minutes. The entire procedure takes about 45 minutes. While these brow and lash procedures are generally safe, they come with risks. Common side effects include allergic reactions, burning and irritation, skin or eye infection, and contact dermatitis (rash). Additionally, on rare occasions, more severe side effects such as eye inflammation, chemical burns, and even blindness may occur.

The New York State law, established in 1994, was based on FDA regulations from the 90s that didn’t provide a safe dye or tint to use on lashes and brows. The State of New York has yet to release any details on why they have suddenly decided to start enforcing this law after decades of allowing the procedures to be performed. But all hope is not lost for providers of these services. Recently, the FDA has changed its regulations, allowing silver nitrate as a color additive to create a safe dye permitted to be used professionally on eyebrows and eyelashes. The New York Department of State is also currently reviewing its policies. As a result, this enforcement of the current New York State law may be a precursor to legal adjustments to allow new rules to be implemented based on new FDA regulations.

We will monitor as information on this regulation’s enforcement emerges to ensure the most updated information is available. As things currently stand, the best practice would be for all businesses that offer eyebrow and eyelash tinting or lash lifting services to suspend those services until more information can be obtained from the Department of State on the future of these services. 

*This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal, financial, or medical advice or the forging of an attorney-client relationship. Please retain the services of an attorney to receive legal advice on how the law applies to your business.