How extensions harm your natural eyelashes – and ways to help these recover
Long, fluttery lashes make us look better, but wearing these constantly can have long-term effects. Your overloaded eyelashes might need a break and some TLC.
There’s no denying that eyelash extensions have, well, really grown on us. Made of materials such as mink, synthetic, human or horse hair, and applied individually or in clusters to one’s natural lashes to boost their length, curl and volume, these enhance the eyes by emphasising the sclera (the white part of the eyeball) and the limbal ring (the dark ring around the iris).
In non-opthalmological terms, long, full, fluttery lashes make us look younger, perkier, more wide-eyed and somehow, a whole lot more irresistible – depending on what people find irresistible, of course. But whether it’s Shrek’s Puss In Boots with his wide, entreating peepers or Kylie Jenner’s super-seductive doe-eyes, there’s no denying that long lashes have something to do with it.
That’s why the most ardent eyelash extension fans (with eyes that look as if they’re framed by teeny-tiny black feathery fans) troop faithfully to their favourite salons every fortnight or so for touchups, spending hundreds, if not thousands, on lash extensions yearly. This, despite the fact that other lash enhancers such as mascara and false eyelashes cost significantly less.
And it’s easy to see why: If applied properly, a good lash extension job can last up to six weeks, make your #iwokeuplikethis Instagram pics look infinitely better, and shave valuable minutes off your daily dressing up prep time.
If you have few or no eyelashes left, you can say bye-bye to getting your beloved eyelash extension fix.
But if worn continuously without breaks in between, eyelash extensions can take a toll on your natural lashes, which could end up sparser, shorter, and more brittle.
Diehards especially should sit up and pay attention at this point. Your eyelash extensions need something to attach themselves to, and that something is your own natural eyelashes. If you have few or no eyelashes left, you can say bye-bye to getting your beloved eyelash extension fix.
Now that you’re ready to consider granting your overloaded eyelashes some much-needed time off, let’s move on:
ASSESS YOUR NATURAL EYELASHES FIRST
The average human being has between 90 to 150 eyelashes on the upper eyelid. A full set of eyelash extensions, meaning each natural eyelash gets a fake buddy attached to it, therefore adds on 50 to 90 extra lashes. What’s more, we naturally lose somewhere between one to four eyelashes a day.
But with lash extensions, the falsies get shed too, making it seem as if your eyelashes are balding prematurely and excessively. Best to take a picture of what your lashes look like au naturel, so that you have a baseline for comparison. Even if your lashes look okay, give these a two-week break in between extension sessions, anyway.
CHECK IF YOUR LASHES ARE GETTING SPARSER OR SHORTER
If that’s the case, it could be due to traction alopecia, where the added weight of your extensions pulls on your natural eyelashes, causing them to weaken and fall off. Alternatively, it could be because of contact/irritant dermatitis from an allergic reaction to the chemicals in eyelash glue.
Instead of plucking away at the strands that are coming loose, which also lead to your lashes falling off, it is advisable to head to the salon to get your extensions professionally removed. If there are indeed signs of lash loss, your lashes deserve a four-to-six week vacay because these have definitely been overworked.
HAVE YOUR EYES SEEN ANY MEDICAL ISSUES LATELY?
Lash extensions tend to be abnormally long and thick, and can change the way lashes function – by creating a fan-like effect that allows more air to blow on the ocular surface, increasing the evaporation of the tear film and leading to dry eyes. These are also a breeding ground for bacteria such as staph, which can cause inflammation of the eyelids, and may also increase your likelihood of catching sties and conjunctivitis.
In worst cases, an ulcer might develop if fibres from lash extensions scratch the corneal surface. If you’re recovering from an eye infection, Lasik or even cataract surgery, it’s best to let your lashes take two months off lash extensions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR LASHES
• Eat a well-balanced diet, and take multivitamins rich in biotin, zinc, vitamin B, and iron.
• Remove makeup gently by using an eye makeup remover pad or dousing a cotton ball in mineral oil, then placing it over the lashes for about 10 seconds before wiping makeup off. This will dissolve the makeup so it goes off easily without any unnecessary rubbing or scrubbing.
• Apply an eyelash serum, such as Shiseido Japan Professional Adenovital Eyelash Serum Full Lash, along your lash line. It contains Arginine to help restore hair, and can be used on both your lashes and even eyebrows.
• Use plant-based oils that are known to promote hair growth and strengthen hair, such as castor, olive or coconut oil. Apply sparingly on the lash line using a clean cotton bud. This will help prevent eye irritation, or worse, blocked eyelash follicles.
• Get your dermatologist to prescribe a topical lash-growth product containing bimatoprost, such as Latisse, which has been medically-proven to help eyelashes grow longer and thicker after about 16 weeks of application.
• Go back to basics. Given that your lashes are in a delicate state, opt for a self-heating eyelash curler, and a gentle-yet-pampering mascara.
• Find gentler ways to flatter your flutter. Magnetic false lashes, an eyelash tint, or an eyelash lift are great alternatives.