Whether you raided your big sister’s makeup kit at a young age or have only just entered the world of eyelashes, there is always a lot to learn in how to take care of your lashes and make them stand out at the same time.
Eyelashes are something we all take for granted in some way. We don’t really realise they are there or serve a purpose until one of them falls into your eye and you end up ruining your freshly applied eye makeup in a bid to get it out. But why do they fall out? Is it normal? Can we do something to stop it? How fast do they grow back and how should we be taking care of them? Many questions may arise if you are now entering your own eyelash world and want to make the most of them without them just being a nuisance by falling into your eye!
What Purpose do Eyelashes Have?
Let’s take this back to basics and find out why we have eyelashes. They grow in a few small layers over the top of the eye on the eyelid and in a thinner layer of more delicate lashes on the bottom lid. They frame the eyes and they come in different shapes, lengths and colours. But why do we have them? Well, they are there to protect our eyes from debris – which is kind of ironic seeing as they can’t protect our eyes from themselves when they fall into them! But think about them sort of like the whiskers on a cat, their sensitivity alerts a reflex that tells them something is near, like a warning. They also help to divert air flow from the eye, by curling away from the eyeball, a set of eyelashes act as a barrier of protection to stop the eyes from drying out completely. They serve a lot more purpose than most of us would think.
Eyelashes are considered a sign of beauty in many cultures and so it is quite common for them to be made up in some way, especially to lengthen them or make them look darker. In Ancient Egypt it was commonly worn by men as well as women. Darker, made up eyelashes signified wealth and status, but also helped add more protection to the upper row of eyelashes to stop the harmful rays of the hot sun from getting in the eyes.
Throughout the ages, eyelashes have always prevailed as a facial feature and even more so today than ever, we have the ability to change them, grow them, tint them and extend them, so it makes for an easier fix than the rest of our features if we want to enhance them.
What is the Eyelash Growth Cycle?
Like every hair on our body, eyelashes have a cycle that starts with the formation of a follicle, the growth of the individual lashserum and the eventual shedding, returning to the start once again. This can change slightly as we get older and follicles become less stable and hair gets thinner, but the eyelash growth cycle will always repeat itself without you even really knowing.
Every person has approximately 150 eyelashes on their upper lids, sometimes 200, and between 75 and 100 on the bottom eyelid. They are never all in the same phase of the growth cycle at one time which means there is a constant flow of growth and you are never without eyelashes at one time. Of course, some may sit in the same part of the cycle at once which is why you may notice from time to time that more fall out at once, but don’t worry, this isn’t a cause for concern, unless you were to notice this all the time in which case it may be due to an underlying medical condition. Hormones, metabolism and diet can also be factors in why your eyelashes don’t grow as fast, shed often or even the opposite! You may notice growth spurts due to positive factors in your life, in which case, take note and keep it up to enjoy longer, fuller eyelashes.
The first stage of the eyelash growth cycle is the Anagen phase. This phase usually lasts between 30 and 45 days and is where the lash is in its most active stage of growth while still attached to the follicle.
The second stage is the Catagen phase which is also known as the transitional phase and it lasts around 2-3 weeks. This is where the eyelash stops growing and the follicle begins to shrink, preparing your eyelash for the next phase. Eyelashes can still fall out in this stage, but the follicle must complete the cycle before the new eyelash can start to grow in.
The third stage is called the Telogen phase or the resting phase. This can last up to 90 days but sometimes less. The follicle has desiccated, and the eyelash is ready to fall out. The new anagen phase is beginning underneath the surface and is ready to produce a new eyelash.
All in all, the eyelash growth cycle can last a couple of months but is always in motion, so you don’t have to worry about losing eyelashes from time to time.
What Can Affect Eyelash Growth?
There are many things that can affect how your eyelashes grow, from diet and nutrition to cleansing habits and wearing makeup. Illnesses can inhibit growth or cause eyelashes to fall out too as well as stress but the one thing that causes eyelashes to either not reach their full potential or to fall our prematurely can be a vitamin deficiency.
We’ve all been told to get our vitamin and mineral intake right and I suppose we all assume it is for our bodily health, the last thing you would think of is eyelash health, but it is all affected. Foods that are rich in fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties are great for eyelashes as they provide the nutrients they need to grow strong and long and eliminate the prospect of early breakage or falling out. Things like Salmon or spinach that help carry oxygen to the hair follicles are great for overall bodily health including eyelashes.
Vitamins are important too, like Vitamin B, which prevents shedding and brittle lashes and Vitamin C which spurs along collagen production and assists with damage repair. So, think of things like peanuts or mushrooms and vegetables or berries that have antioxidant properties.
There are a multitude of variables that can affect eyelash growth, and vitamin intake is just one of them. Things like smoking and eating salty foods or drinking drinks high in sugar can all affect eyelash growth as well as one key element: not drinking enough water. Hydration is crucial when it comes to all health aspects; think about how dry hair can get, or skin and lips. Water is the most important ingredient to keep every part of your body as healthy as possible.
Is Makeup Bad for Eyelashes?
Yes and no is the answer to that question. Yes, in that it coats the eyelashes for long periods of time in makeup ingredients that can have lasting effects, and No, in that there are so many healthier options available these days, and as long as you remove it properly at the end of each day there shouldn’t be any long-term damage. Think about your own eyelashes and how often you wear mascara; If you are a big fan of makeup and wear it daily to a full extent, you may have noticed your eyelashes aren’t what they used to be. They may be thinner or more brittle or even seem to have less growing at one time. But if you are a ritual cleanser, you may have escaped the damaged eyelash phase and sport a lovely full set.
They say everything is ok in moderation, but how much makeup is ok? I don’t know if anyone has got the balance exactly right without the need for enhancements, but it is possible. If mascara is your enhancement of choice then just be sure to remove it every day before going to sleep and if extensions are your weapon of choice then try to have a break from them when they are not needed so that your natural eyelashes have a good chance to breathe and grow without the weight of extensions pulling them down.
How Should We Cleanse Eyelashes?
Removing makeup at the end of the day is so important, and so many people don’t realise how much. When it comes to the skin, leaving makeup on can cause excess oils as well as dirt and debris from makeup to clog pores and cause infections or breakouts. It is so important to remove makeup on eyelashes too. Not only can infections or irritation occur but it can start to make the eyelashes look less than desirable or fall out prematurely.
When it comes to cleansing makeup, a lot of people think a cleanser is good enough, but what needs to happen is the makeup being removed first. A makeup remover does just that: takes the makeup away from the skin. But it doesn’t mean the skin is cleansed of all dirt and particles that can cause damage. The same goes for eyelashes to an extent and especially the skin around them.
Remove mascara and eyeliner with a good remover that is kind and gently to your eyes, and then finish off with a water-based facial cleanser to keep the area clean and clear. Micellar water is really good for this as it attracts the particles to the product and away from your face.
When cleansing be sure to move in one direction away from the eyelashes and don’t rely on harsh or abrasive rubbing to do it. If you need to repeat the process, it is better than rubbing the eyelashes over and over as this can cause eyelash loss and damage to the skin around your eyelids.
Cleansing makeup may seem like a chore, but it is definitely better than having to worry about eyelash health over the long-term.
How Can we Enhance our Eyelashes?
The one question on many minds is how can we make our eyelashes grow faster? Or how can we make them look longer? The good news is there are many options these days that help everyone out in some way. We have mascara, we have false eyelashes, extensions and lash lifts. Each one suits someone more than the other, due to price, convenience or comfort.
So, let’s start with mascara. You can get a whole range of different mascaras that promise to do different things: Volumize, lengthen, separate, you name it, there is a mascara for it. But they don’t always do what you want them to do depending on what you already have (which is where eyelash health care comes into it to make sure you have the best options). Volumizing mascara can only create volume where there are plenty of eyelashes, otherwise it just clumps and looks unnatural and thick. Lengthening mascara will look good were there are plenty of eyelashes but shorter in length.
A great option is an eyelash growth serum. While it takes a little more patience than mascara, it has lasting effects that are natural and less harmful to your eyelashes. Xlash have a great product (Xlash Eyelash Serum) that can be applied daily to the top row of eyelashes for stimulated growth within 3-4 weeks. The best part about eyelash growth serums is that they enhance your eyelashes naturally and don’t require extra appointments or expenditure trying to keep the new, full and long set of lashes that you desire. As far as eyelash enhancement goes, and eyelash growth serum could be the answer.
Eyelash extensions are of course amazing too. But they do require upkeep and maintenance to ensure they still look natural and full. If you are going on holiday and want to compete with the accompanying heat without lashings of mascara, eyelash extensions may be the way forward.
Lash lifts are relatively new on the eyelash scene and involve a technique similar to a perm for the hair. An eyelash lift lasts around eight weeks and really emphasise the curl and shape of your natural eyelashes, which if they are straighter than you would like but have existing volume, is a really clever option.