Want longer, thicker eyelashes? Join the queue. While falsies and lash extensions can help to create the illusion of longer eyelashes, both options come with a lengthy list of downsides.
For eyelash extensions, there’s the significant cost. For false eyelashes, there’s the annoyance and inconvenience of having to constantly deal with tweezers and eyelash glue, not to mention the real risk of developing eye infections.
Luckily, it’s possible to grow longer, thicker and healthier eyelashes on your own, all without the need to rely on extensions or false eyelashes. To learn more, we teamed up with Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, a consultant dermatologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
Below, we’ve explained what you can do to grow longer eyelashes that are backed up by science, as well as what’s best avoided. We’ve also explained the basics of keeping your eyelashes full, thick, healthy and damage-free through good habits, nutrition, and care.
First, How Does Eyelash Growth Actually Work?
Before we get into the finer details of how to grow longer eyelashes, it’s important to cover the basics of how your eyelashes actually grow in the first place.
Your eyelashes, like the hairs on your scalp and body, undergo a constant, year-round cycle of growth, loss, and replacement.
For about three months at a time, each new lash grows from the hair follicle before shedding at the end of its growth cycle. As it sheds, a new lash grows out of the follicle, taking its place and starting its own growth cycle.
People with a lower-than-average number of eyelashes or low eyelash length or thickness may have a condition called eyelash hypotrichosis.
There are several causes of eyelash hypotrichosis, ranging from genetics to aging, treatments such as chemotherapy, surgery, hair pulling disorders like trichotillomania and physical trauma that affects the face or eyes.
Does Nutrition Play a Role in Eyelash Growth?
Just like your skin, nails and other parts of your body, your eyelashes need vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to grow. If you eat a healthy, balanced diet, you’ll consume these vitamins, minerals and other nutrients naturally without too much of a need to worry about anything.
If you search online, you’ll find long lists of foods that can aid in hair growth. For example, eggs — which contain biotin, or vitamin H — are often listed as a hair-friendly food that can help you to grow longer, thicker hair and eyelashes.
Although there might be some link between these foods and hair growth, there isn’t much in the way of scientific evidence to show that they have any effect on your eyelashes. Overall, as long as you follow a balanced diet, your eyelashes and other hair should grow healthily.
Do Most Eyelash Growth Boosters Actually Work?
Search online for information about growing longer, thicker eyelashes and you’ll find countless different products, from essential oils to teas and tablets, all promising great results with few to no side effects.
Unfortunately, many of these products aren’t backed up by much in the way of real evidence. In some cases, they might actually be harmful to your eyelash growth and overall health.
For example, take green tea. Social networks like Instagram and natural health websites are full of content showcasing the benefits of green tea as a DIY eyelash growth booster.
However, real scientific proof is, to put it mildly, lacking, with no reputable studies showing that it does anything at all.
Likewise, there are numerous guides out there promoting Vaseline as a cheap, readily available product for preventing eyelash loss and boosting growth.
Although Vaseline is a great product that has lots of beauty-related benefits — for example, it’s a great, inexpensive alternative to more expensive lip balms — there’s no proof that it has any real effects on eyelash growth, or that it prevents eyelash loss.
However, there is a risk of vaseline causing your eyes to become inflamed and irritated if you’re overly liberal in applying it to your eyelids.
As for the over-the-counter lash enhancers sold on Amazon and at your local drug store, there isn’t much scientific evidence to back these up either. While some people swear by them, most don’t contain any ingredients that are proven to improve eyelash length, thickness or growth.
So, What Actually Works for Growing Longer Eyelashes?
Luckily, there are some science-backed options out there. Right now, the most effective one is a prescription treatment called Bimatoprost.
Latisse contains a medication called bimatoprost. It’s a liquid solution that you apply to the skin of your eyelids using an applicator similar to a mascara wand. Bimatoprost, the main ingredient in Latisse, works by extending the growth cycle of your lashes, allowing them to grow longer.
Unlike most eyelash growth products, which aren’t supported by a lot in the way of real science, Latisse is approved by the FDA and backed up by numerous studies that show that it can boost lash growth.
If using a prescription treatment doesn’t sound appealing to you, there are several other things that you can do to help keep your eyelashes in optimal condition:
- Try applying castor oil. There’s no evidence that castor oil can make your eyelashes grow longer, but there is some evidence that it can improve your hair’s luster and keep your eyelashes moisturized.
In fact, castor oil is really the only natural treatment backed up by scientific research, albeit limited.
- Be careful with false eyelashes. False eyelashes can make your eyelashes appear to be longer and thicker, but it’s surprisingly easy to accidentally damage your eyelashes if you wear them often.
Never remove false eyelashes without first removing all of the eyelash glue. Make sure you use either eyelash glue remover or makeup remover, then gently remove the false eyelashes with tweezers to avoid accidentally pulling out any of your real eyelashes.
- Take a “less is more” approach to your eyelashes. From false eyelash glue to other chemicals, a lot of the substances that come into contact with your skin can potentially cause allergic reactions and irritation.
There’s nothing wrong with sometimes using false eyelashes or heavy mascara, as long as you don’t overdo it. Try to take “lash holidays” every now and then to give your lashes and skin some rest and recuperation.
- Avoid doubling up on false eyelashes. Wearing two pairs of false eyelashes at once can make your eyelashes look a lot thicker, but it also increases pressure on the edges of your eyelids that connect to the mucosal aspect of the eye and can cause irritation.
- Avoid waterproof mascara. Because waterproof mascara is harder to remove, it can increase your risk of trauma and eyelash loss. As such, it’s best to only wear it on rare occasions or, preferably, avoid it altogether.
- Rethink avoid getting extensions. Although extensions can make your eyelashes look longer, the glue that’s used to attach them to your eyelids can cause the same damage as the glue that’s used to keep false eyelashes in place.
- Look into claims before buying anything. Unfortunately, eyelash growth enhancing serums are often promoted with claims that are misleading at best. Make sure you look into anything that sounds too good to be true — often, it is.