Eyelashes are fantastic things. They enhance your eyes, complement your eyebrows, and can make or break your look on any given day (and night). Long, healthy lashes have always been a desirable facial feature for both women and men. Looks aside, they also serve important bodily functions, such as protecting your eyes from potentially harmful dust and debris that might be floating through the air.
So what do you do when you wake up to see your precious eyelashes on the pillow? Try not to panic– in most cases, they’ll grow back quickly. Extensive eyelash loss is unusual and can seem serious at first. But while it might be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, it might also be caused by something as simple as the makeup you use every day.
Below we’re going to discuss the causes of eyelash loss, eyelash regrowth, and how to maintain healthy lashes in the future.
- Why Do Eyelashes Fall Out?
- Do Eyelashes Grow Back?
- Growth Cycle of the Eyelash
- What Can You Do to Accelerate Regrowth?
- Do Home Remedies Help?
- How to Prevent Eyelash Loss in the Future
- Seek Medical Advice
- Final Thoughts
Why Do Eyelashes Fall Out?
Why, why, why! It’s a million-dollar question with what seems like a million potential answers. This may sound daunting but there’s a good chance it will be easy enough to identify the issue. And failing that, you can always seek your doctor’s advice. Let’s take a look at some of the known causes of eyelash loss.
- Alopecia areata: an autoimmune condition that causes hair loss on the face and body. Hair loss caused by alopecia areata usually occurs in targeted patches, but on rare occasions it can affect all of the hair on the body and scalp.
- Chemotherapy: certain cancer treatments can cause hair loss in various areas of the body. In these cases eyelash loss is fairly common. Keep in mind that not all forms of chemotherapy will result in hair loss.
- Blepharitis: inflammation along the edges of both eyelids which occurs when oil glands along the base of the eyelashes become clogged. This leads to crusted eyelashes that are more prone to falling out.
- Thyroid conditions: your thyroid gland produces hormones that help to regulate energy in the body, which affects your growth, mood, and metabolism. Hyperthyroidism occurs when there is too much of the thyroid hormone in your system and hypothyroidism occurs when there is too little. Hair loss can be a symptom of either condition.
- Scleroderma: an autoimmune disease that causes hardening and tightening of the skin and connective tissues. Hair loss is one of many symptoms of scleroderma and can sometimes affect the eyelashes.
- Natural life cycle: as you’ll see below, sometimes the cause behind your eyelashes falling out is simply the result of your lashes reaching the end of their natural life cycle.
Other Causes of Eyelash Loss
In addition to the causes above, in some cases eyelash loss can happen as a result of direct damage to the eyelashes.
- Makeup and extensions: artificial eyelash products are major culprits of eyelash loss. Lash extensions for example are glued to real eyelashes and when removed can rip the eyelashes beneath them, while fake eyelash adhesive can also tear them from the follicles. Mascara left on overnight can make your eyelashes brittle and breakable. Some women have also reported accidentally tearing out their eyelashes while using eyelash curlers.
- Burns: burns are a more obvious cause of eyelash loss usually through either direct exposure to fire, cigarette ends, or heated eyelash-curlers which can singe eyelashes if overheated.
- Trichotillomania: trichotillomania, also known as ‘hair-pulling disorder,’ is a psychological condition that compels the affected person to tear out their own hair. This usually affects the hair on the scalp, but can also extend to eyebrows and eyelashes.
Do Eyelashes Grow Back?
Now that you have a good idea of what has caused the problem, you’re no doubt asking the next most important question. Do they grow back?
Many people believe that once you lose your eyelashes they’ll be gone forever. It’s unclear why this myth has circulated for so long, but we can assure you that it is just that – a myth. For the most part anyway.
Yes, in most cases your eyelashes will grow back. But there are a few situations where eyelash growth may be stunted.
- Chemotherapy: once chemotherapy treatments are completed eyelashes will almost certainly regrow. However they may grow back differently, as chemotherapy can affect the color, texture, and thickness of hair regrowth.
- Burns and serious injuries: if there is trauma or lasting damage to the hair follicles, the growth of your eyelashes may be stunted until your skin and follicles are fully healed.
- Alopecia: unfortunately there is no known cure for alopecia, however there are some treatments that may minimize the effects of the condition and hopefully stimulate hair regrowth.
Growth Cycle of the Eyelash
Now we’ve established that your eyelashes really can grow back, let’s take a look at the process they go through before full regrowth.
The truth is that eyelashes frequently fall out simply because they are at the end of their natural life cycle, as all of the hair on your body goes through similar cycles. Your eyelashes will be shed and regrown naturally over the course of around 60 days.
You should be prepared to wait around 5-6 weeks before they return to their original length. Keep in mind that regrowth speed will vary depending on the cause of the initial loss.
Here are the three stages of your eyelash growth cycle.
This is the growth period of the eyelash and consists of two distinct processes. At the earliest point in the growth process, new hairs will begin to form at the root of the eyelash. Melanin is created in the hair follicle, hence the dark color of the eyelash.
The main process of the anagen comes next, which is the active growth period of the lashes. This will usually last somewhere between 30 and 45 days, depending on the person. Approximately 50% of your eyelashes (40% of upper eyelashes and 10-15% of lower lashes) will be in the anagen phase at all times.
The transition stage comes next. Once an eyelash reaches a specific length, growth will be discontinued. Melanin is no longer produced either, and the follicle will move slowly toward the skin’s surface. It usually lasts between 14-21 days. Keep in mind if an eyelash happens to fall out during the catagen phase, it will not start the process of regrowth until the catagen runs its course.
The last stage of the growth cycle is the resting/shedding phase, the period before an individual eyelash sheds and is replaced. The telogen lasts around 3-4 months.
What Can You Do to Accelerate Regrowth?
There are a few potential ways you can get those eyelashes growing a little faster than the natural growth cycle will normally allow. These include the following.
Ensuring you get the right kind of foods in your diet may help to promote faster eyelash growth. The nutrients listed below have been linked to hair health and may contribute to eyelash growth.
- Protein is one of the best hair treatments, as hair is made out of a protective protein called keratin. Protein provides amino acids that are used to produce keratin, so it’s an essential nutrient if you want any kind of hair to grow back faster. Some of the best sources of protein are milk, cheese, seafood, eggs, fish, and white meat.
- Biotin (vitamin H) is thought to help hair growth, as it is proven to help improve your body’s keratin infrastructure. Studies have indicated that increased biotin intake can help promote hair growth in as little as 90 days. Biotin can be found in nuts, whole grains, onions, broccoli, and cauliflower, among other foods.
- Niacin (vitamin B-3) increases the blood and nutrient flow into the hair follicles, as well as removing waste from the surface of the skin. All of these things help to promote hair growth. You can find good sources of niacin in chicken, beef, fish, nuts, and avocado.
If you have somewhat restrictive dietary requirements, it may be hard to implement all of the above nutrients into your diet. You may want to buy some high-quality supplements as an alternative way of improving your nutrition.
Latisse, also known as bimatoprost, is an FDA-approved medication used to treat abnormal eyelash growth and glaucoma. When regularly applied, Latisse can help eyelashes to grow faster, thicker, and longer. Latisse is a prescription-only medication, so contact your doctor to see if it’s right for you.
Do Home Remedies Help?
You may have noticed in your research that quite a few natural products are being promoted as direct treatments for hair regrowth. These can include olive oil, castor oil, almond oil, petroleum jelly, and egg yolk. Be wary of these catch-all home remedies, as there is little to no scientific evidence to suggest that they will actually help your eyelashes grow faster.
How to Prevent Eyelash Loss in the Future
Depending on the cause of your hair loss, you may find it to be a recurring issue. Here are a few methods that may help you to remedy any further eyelash loss.
Check Your Mascara
If you think your mascara is the cause, consider switching up brands or replacing old products. Your current mascara may simply be incompatible with your hair and skin, or you might be using expired mascara that irritates your hair follicles. You may wish to try a mascara made specifically for sensitive eyes.
Take off Your Makeup (Especially at Night)
Taking off your eye makeup carefully and thoroughly is a fairly simple way of remedying this unfortunate issue. A gentle makeup remover (carefully applied) will help to avoid pulling or rubbing your eyelashes too hard. The most important time to do this is at night, as hardened mascara will make your lashes more prone to breakage.
Put Down the Curler
As mentioned above both heated and manual lash curlers can cause eyelash loss, as the former can singe the eyelash, and the latter can pull them out completely. You may want to consider taking them out of your beauty routine.
Seek Medical Advice
This should be your first plan of action if your eyelashes aren’t falling out due to makeup, direct damage (such as pulling or burns), or any other non-medical reasons. If the cause of your eyelash loss cannot be easily identified, you should consult a medical professional and treat the underlying cause to ensure that the hair loss is not recurring.
While the loss of your eyelashes can be troubling, it certainly isn’t the end of the world. Ultimately, your overall health is most important, so the identification of any underlying issues should be your first port of call.
Even if the cause of your eyelash loss is more serious and prolonged than faulty eyelash extensions or expired makeup, you can find comfort knowing that they will, in almost all cases, grow back. Just like the rest of the hair on your face and body, your eyelashes go through the same natural growth cycles. With a little patience and extra care you’ll be batting them again in a matter of months.