“Eyelashes are made of the protein keratin, they’re produced by a hair follicle and coated in sebum from the sebaceous gland,” explains Consultant Ophthalmic and Oculoplastic surgeon, Dr Elizabeth Hawkes.
“Like all hair they grow, then go through a cycle before falling out,” she adds. Basically they’re part of the same miraculous system that our hair, skin and nails belong to, so they’re worthy of the same sort of care and attention – particularly if we want them to remain strong and healthy. “Naturally we lose between 1-4 eyelashes a day,” explains Dr Elizabeth, “and as we age, they become shorter, thinner and lighter.” As with everything though, the better you look after them, the plusher they’ll look for longer.
Eyelashes have drawn the short straw if you ask me. Think about it, our skincare is (not surprisingly) designed with our skin in mind. Even though we give our lashes a once-over with our cleanser, it’s rare we’ll follow up with a mini moisturising routine the same way we would for our complexion. The same goes for our haircare routine. We’ll shampoo, condition and mask our way to luscious strands – but we wouldn’t use those products on our lashes.
It’s tricky, eyelashes are pretty much an extension of our hair, but their unique placement just above our eyes mean they require a different and more gentle approach.
Here’s Dr Elizabeth’s tips for keeping them in peak condition:
1. Remove your mascara like a pro
“It’s important to remove all the products from lashes in order to prevent broken lashes and irritation, as well as corneal abrasions and in worst cases, infections.
Soak a make-up pad in your chosen make-up remover and then hold on the eye for a few seconds. This allows the formula to gently break up the mascara so that when you wipe the pad away it gently lifts the mascara away with it and doesn’t pull off any delicate eyelashes. Don’t be tempted to pull or pick any remaining mascara as this will undoubtedly break or pull your lashes out.
TOP TIP: I would advise using fabric reusable pads rather than cotton-wool ones, not only because the fibres from cotton-wool can often get into eyes causing irritation, but also because it’s kinder to the environment. Keep repeating the process again until your eyelashes are clean.”
2. Prevent eye glands from becoming blocked
“After cleansing, take a clean pad and slowly push down towards the lash line on the upper lid. Then, with a second clean pad, push upwards towards the lower lash line. Our eyes have hundreds of tiny glands that line the upper and lower eyelids, just behind the lash line called meibomian glands. They secrete the oil that lubricates the eye surface. By cleaning in this manner we can prevent them from getting blocked and prevent blepharitis.”
3. Stock up on this pro-approved lash conditioner
“I would recommend RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner Serum for lash growth and health. This Ophthalmologist developed eyelash conditioner enhances the look of the lashes and protects against breakage, whilst also improving health, flexibility and strength, allowing lashes to thrive naturally.”
4. Use these drops if your eyes are feeling dry or tired
“HyloTear eye drops are carefully formulated and contain 0.1% hyaluronic acid that can quickly relieve dry eye symptoms. Hyaluronic acid is a very natural and long acting ingredient which is actually present in many parts of our body, including the eye.”
5. If you’re using wipes on your eyes, choose these
“Blephaclean wipes can be used for the daily hygiene of eyelids and sensitive skin (especially in cases of blepharitis). Blephaclean wipes are free from detergents and preservatives, and gently cleanse without irritating the eyes or damaging the outer layers of skin.”
6. Use lockdown to give your lashes a break from mascara
“Generally speaking mascara isn’t bad for the eyes, however waterproof mascara is designed to not come off, which can lead to eyelashes falling out more than they should and breaking. As with anything makeup related, I would suggest that if you can give it a break (in this case, from mascara) during lockdown, it will help to let your eyelashes recover and ensure they’re at optimum health. However, continued use won’t be a problem so long as your mascara is in date and you’re washing your eyes regularly.”