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Reader question: My lashes are ruined from years of lash extensions. How can I make my lashes grow faster? - Laura Irene
If you weren't inherently blessed by the eyelash gods, maintaining long lashes can feel like a perpetually uphill battle. Sure, you can resort to eyelash extensions or falsies, but that only increases the chance of your actual lashes snapping off, not to mention the ensuing dryness that contributes to more breakage.
But you have the right idea here; instead of resorting to short-term solutions, you want to get to the literal root of your problem and figure out how to grow your lashes, not just fake the length.
But first, a disclaimer. Just like the hair on your head, eyelashes naturally fall out and replace themselves in a cycle every six to 10 weeks, so it's totally normal to lose between one and five eyelashes each day. Thinning eyelashes are another part of the aging process, so if your lashes don't seem to have the same length and fullness they once did, don't worry. Most of the time, some shedding and thinning is completely natural and nothing to worry about.
That being said, your lashes can become brittle and fragile due to things like improper eye products, new medications, and underlying health conditions, so be sure to consult your doctor if your lash loss is significant.
Meanwhile, you can coax your lash growth with some extra love. Of course, there are tons of old wives' tales circulating online (I'm looking at you, lemon juice), but remember, we are talking about your eyes here, so please don't get aggressive with experimentation. A lot of these methods aren't actually effective—and moreover, could harm your eye area in the process. I'm talking about dermatologist-approved techniques that actually work and are good for your lash line long term. Here are some best practices.
Clean and brush your lashes regularly
According to Jeannette Graf, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York, your lash routine should be approached like a combination of your skincare and hair care routine. Just like you wouldn't go to bed with tangled hair to prevent breakage, your lashes should be brushed once a day to detangle strands and stimulate hair follicles. And since you wouldn't dream of moisturizing dirty skin (or, at least, I hope not), always apply your lash treatments to clean, dry eyes. "Similarly to how you apply your skincare routine at night, your lash routine should be the same way," says Dr. Graf. Which leads me to my next point…
Use lash serums to prevent breakage
As I'm sure you've seen, there are loads of natural ingredients (see: castor oil, vitamin E, and coconut oil) that people recommend for your lashes. However, the truth is that these only help to hydrate and condition your lashes, not make them grow. That doesn't mean you shouldn't use them—shiny and strong lashes are always a good thing, right? Lash conditioners help strengthen hair to prevent them from breaking, which ultimately benefits your quest for fuller-looking lashes. Dr. Graf recommends LiLash Purified Eyelash Serum ($68, amazon.com), which contains a blend of antioxidants, castor oil, and almond extracts to improve absorption and support healthy hair growth.
Ask your dermatologist about a lash growth serum
As for lash growth serums, these guys contain active ingredients that actually stimulate the growth of new hairs. But proceed with caution: Latisse is the only FDA-approved treatment for lash growth on the market. It was originally used as glaucoma medication before experts realized it had a pretty great side effect of longer lashes, thanks to the growing powers of bimatoprost. So if you're really trying to get results, your best bet is to snag a prescription (which Latisse needs).
When it comes to OTC lash serums that Instagram influencers swear give them longer, thicker lashes, these likely contain an ingredient comparable to bimatoprost, such as isopropyl cloprostenate. But note: These aren't FDA-regulated or approved, so always do your research (or better yet, ask your doctor or derm first) before painting your whole eyes with the stuff. And avoid using them entirely if pregnant or nursing.
The growth cycle of your eyelashes consists of three phases: catagen (dormant phase), telogen (the shedding phase), and anagen (the growth phase). According to Dr. Graf, your lashes spend most of their time in the catagen and telogen phase, so it's only natural that the growth part takes a while. In fact, it can take three months for your lashes to grow naturally, even with the proper techniques. Don't get too disappointed if you don't see results straight away—your lashes just might need some time to get to the right phase. And if you're looking for instant gratification, try to resist the urge for lash extensions and opt for a lash lift instead.