I woke up this morning to an email from Yelp: $22 for a Japanese eyelash perm that normally costs $50. I had never heard of the procedure before but my curiosity was definitely piqued. After all, long, thick, luscious lashes are highly coveted by the TIA community, so the Japanese eyelash perm seemed worth checking out.

First, it’s important to know what the perm is not: an eyelash growth stimulator or thickener. You’re definitely working with the lashes you were born with and are not adding any extensions or false eyelashes. A Japanese eyelash perm is literally a perm for your eyelashes. It appeals mostly to people who are addicted to their eyelash curlers or who find that eyelash curlers don’t quite cut it. While the procedure is strictly for curl, it does enhance and dramatize lashes, giving them the appearance of being longer and thicker without the use of an eyelash curler or even mascara.

There are several different rod sizes available to choose from; smaller rods get you curlier lashes, while larger rods will leave you with straighter ones, similar to the way a hair perm works. Lavilash, the New York City salon that is hosting Yelp’s deal, boasts 42 different rods, all of which fall into one of three eyelash “designs:” I curl (which curls straight up), C curl (if you want that dramatic look) and J curl (a more forward, natural curl).

While not all salons offer the exact same options, you can expect a relatively standard procedure anywhere you go. First, rods are glued to your eyelids, followed by each individual eyelash being glued to the rod one by one (pictured). A chemical solution is applied to the lashes, followed by another perm solution. Finally, a conditioner is applied and the rods are removed. The whole process takes approximately 40 minutes, and results last anywhere from 3 – 6 weeks.

The major benefit of the Japanese eyelash perm is that it pretty much guarantees a more dramatic set of lashes, without the use of growth products that may or may not work, and may very well be risky to use. The perm is also probably a better option than extensions are, at least when it comes to practicality; extensions fall out and move around. Even sleeping the wrong way can mess up extensions. But that is not the case with the perm.

Still, there are several drawbacks. First, there seem to be just as many negative reviews as there are positive reviews of the Japanese eyelash perm. One major complaint is that eyelashes end up being too curled and come off looking unnatural. This can be remedied by using a larger rod instead of a smaller one, but if there is a large selection of rods it may be hard to pick the perfect size. Another common complaint is the opposite problem: a barely noticeable curl.

My immediate reaction to the idea of perming eyelashes was to wonder how using chemicals that close to the sensitive eye region could be safe. Lavilash states honestly that the salon cannot say that “no damage” occurs during the perm, as chemicals are being used to alter the structure of the hair. Still, while a bad hair perm can ruin your tresses for years, eyelashes have a relatively high turnover rate. Even if they are damaged by a perm, new lashes will grow in quickly.

A more pressing concern is whether the chemicals used in the perm can damage your eyes, as that is something that may not be reparable. Although I couldn’t find an exact list of the chemicals used, I did discover that eyelash perming is illegal in several states. Colorado, for example, banned the procedure because the FDA reported that chemicals used in regular hair relaxers and perms have caused serious eye injuries in the past. In addition, the FDA reviewed an eyelash perming product in 1989 that the agency labeled as “a potential moderate-acute health hazard, producing corneal damage which may interfere with visual acuity.” The FDA has not approved any eyelash perming products as of yet.

While I don’t think that the FDA is necessarily the ultimate authority in cosmetics, I personally would not risk putting any sort of chemicals near my eyes. What about you – would you consider perming your lashes?