Eyelashes are one of your most prominent facial features, and oftentimes, one of the first things people notice about a person's appearance. Women have been trying to possess thicker, fuller, and dark eyelashes for a long time. In many cultures around the world, long eyelashes are viewed as a sign of femininity and beauty. Let's be real for a moment if you've ever been to the beauty stores, Sephora or Ulta, you will know there are entire aisles dedicated to eyelashes, and because of this, you may think that your eyelashes are biologically different from the hairs on your head when in reality, your eyelashes grow the same way as every other hair on your body.
Each hair goes through a series of phases as it grows and then falls out:
- The Anagen (Growing) Phase- This is the phase in which your eyelash grows. It takes 30-45 days for your eyelashes to grow to their full length, unlike the hair on your head, which takes around 5 years.
- The Catagen (Regression Phase-In this phase, the hair follicle inside your upper eyelid release the hair, which means the eyelash is no longer attached to the follicle. This phase typically lasts about 15 days.
- The Telogen (Resting) Phase-You eyelash is no longer growing in this phase. A new eyelash will start to grow from the follicle. This phase typically lasts from 100 days to 9 months.
- The Exogen (Shedding Phase)-As the new eyelash grows out of the hair follicle, the old eyelash fully detaches and falls out, allowing the new eyelash to take its place.
Like the rest of the hair on your body, eyelashes have a protective function. They protect the eyes from sunshine, wind, perspiration, and debris. They are also responsible for triggering the blink reflex when touched, which, if you think about it, is huge; you wouldn't want a bug to suddenly grace the surface of your eyeball because your eyelashes didn't do their job and blink it away! Eyelashes are the thickest hairs on the body and are often darker than the hairs on the head. They typically maintain their pigmentation with age, making it very rare for them to turn grey. Eyelashes are usually laid out in 2-3 rows of about 100-150 lashes per eye. The lower lashes tend to be more sparse and are shorter than the upper lashes.
A reduction in eyelashes can be defined as hypotrichosis, a medical term used to describe a condition in which natural hair growth does not occur. Eyelash hypotrichosis is a condition where somebody has an inadequate amount of eyelashes. Symptoms of eyelash hypotrichosis are slow growth of eyelashes, brittle/thin lashes, or a loss of or no eyelash growth in certain areas.
What Causes a Reduction in Eyelashes/Hypotrichosis?
- Genetics - Eyelash hypotrichosis is a hereditary hair loss that individuals may start noticing effects of during early childhood and progresses with age
- Aging and menopause - Due to the hormonal imbalance that goes along with aging and menopause, you may start seeing your hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes thinning
- Rough treatment - When you vigorously scrub while removing makeup, it can result in the loss of eyelashes
- Allergic reaction - Allergies to products in certain mascaras could cause eyelash loss
- Eyelash extensions - Eyelash extensions are applied with medical-grade glue and attached to your natural lashes. If you tug them off rather than allowing them to fall off naturally can result in thinning eyelashes
- Medical conditions - Blepharitis, overactive/underactive thyroid, psoriasis, and eczema are all conditions that could have eyelash thinning as a symptom.
- Excessive stress can result in hair and eyelash loss
- Chemotherapy drugs - People undergoing this type of cancer treatment often experience hair loss all over the body, including the eyelashes
Treatment Options for Longer, Thicker, Darker Eyelashes
There are several options on the market today for people to enhance the appearance of their eyelashes.
The most common products include:
- Artificial eyelashes
- Eyelash serums
- Eyelash transplantation
- Using Latisse
These options vary in effectiveness and longevity. Read on the learn more.
Mascara is the oldest and most commonly used option to temporarily make your eyelashes darker, thicker, and fuller. It comes in a variety of colors, formulations, costs, and there are many different style applicators. Mascara is made with a mixture of waxes, pigments, resins, or oils. The effects of mascara are temporary, and oftentimes there can be smudging. In some cases, mascara may cause irritation to the eye, especially if you're allergic to the type of formula used.
Eyelash serums typically contain ingredients like panthenol and argan oil that smooth and condition lashes. Some contain hyaluronic acid to help plump lashes and peptides that stimulate the eyelashes hair follicle. The effectiveness of these products varies depending on brand and ingredients. Some people may experience adverse reactions, including itchy eyes, red eyes, darkening of the eyelid skin, or allergic reactions.
Artificial eyelashes are made from human hair or synthetic fibers. There are various ways these lashes can be applied. Lashes can be applied in strips to the eyelid or attached individually to existing eyelashes. Artificial eyelashes are typically secured with glue and can sometimes cause an allergic reaction. Artificial lashes can last from a few days to several weeks, depending on the product used.
Eyelash transplants involve transplanting scalp follicles directly onto the eyelid. This is a controversial and costly procedure. Because the lashes are actually scalp hair, they must be trimmed regularly and curled. There are risks involved with this procedure, including postoperative pain, bleeding, hematomas, scar formation, altered sensation, eyelid ptosis, dry eye, and extreme cases, blindness.
Latisse, or bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%, is the only name-brand FDA approved treatment for growing thicker, longer, and darker eyelashes. Latisse is a prescription treatment that contains the active ingredient bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%. Latisse works by increasing the percent of hairs and the duration of the growth phase. Bimatoprost ophthalmic solution has proven efficacy and effectiveness at improving length, thickness, and fullness of eyelashes. Latisse's common side effects include dry or watery eyes, or swelling, burning, or itching in the eyelids. Some less common side effects include noticeable irritation, darkening, or reddening of the skin where Latisse is applied. Latisse's rare side effect is possible to brown areas near the pupil may darken and make the eye appear browner.
Where Can you get Treatment?
Anyone can get common over-the-counter products for thicker, darker eyelashes at local grocery stores, beauty stores, and online. The prescription treatment Latisse can be found at many in-person and digital clinics, and you are able to receive a prescription for it after undergoing a telemedicine consult at any of the following telemedicine companies:
The ideals of physical beauty have changed over time, but one thing that never seems to change is the role of eyes in defining beauty. Most cultures around the world place a high value on long, thick lashes because they are considered a sign of femininity and beauty. It is no wonder women are trying to find ways to enhance their lashes, as this is associated with enhanced beauty.
If you are feeling dissatisfied with your lashes' length and thickness, there are numerous over the counter products to choose from and cosmetic treatments for you to try. Or if you are sick of expensive eyelash extensions or applying mascara daily, check out our list of the top digital clinics that can prescribe Latisse for you today and start your journey towards longer, thicker, fuller lashes today!