Since time immemorial, long, full dark eyelashes have been associated with beauty. In fact, researchers found that Egyptians—mostly wealthy and royal men, women, and children—enhanced their lashes with kohl and other ointments as early as 4,000 B.C.!
Somewhere along the way, longer lashes started signalling femininity. And that explains why today, products like Latisse, eyelash extensions, and lash lifts are marketed exclusively to women. In this post, Dr. Suess will discuss the effects of aging on your lashes, the options for lash lengthening, and what you need to know when it comes to the safety of these treatments.
Throughout time, famous paintings and literature show beautiful women having long, luscious eyelashes. They’ve always been recognized as an external sign of health and potential fertility!
Why do we lose our lashes as we age?
To understand why our lashes thin as we get older, we first have to talk about the natural growth cycle. Here’s how it unfolds…
In anagen—the growth phase—the hair is attached to the dermal papilla, the blood supply, which “feeds” the lashes. During this phase—about 4 to 10 weeks—, your lashes will grow ~0.12 to 0.14 millimetres per day. They will grow longer based on how much time they stay in anagen.
In catagen—the transition phase—your hair follicles recede and detach from the blood supply. For about 10 days to two weeks, your eyelashes cease to grow but keep their length.
In telogen—the resting and shedding phase—your lashes are dormant. New hairs begin to grow inside the follicle, naturally pushing out the old lash (exogen) which is when anagen begins again. The telogen phase lasts about 3 months.
There are many factors that can affect this natural growth cycle including genetics, hormones, disease, nutrient deficiency, and stress. And let’s not forget one of the biggest factors: age.
As we get older, our eyelashes spend more time in the transition and resting phases which leads to thinner lashes and less regrowth.
What can you do about thinning lashes?
For better or for worse, the market is currently flooded with products to regain the longer, fuller lashes of your youth.
Mascara Many if not most of us have used this over-the-counter to darken and thicken our lashes. It’s relatively inexpensive and easy to use but it requires daily application (and nightly removal!)
Eyelash extensions Extensions are semi-permanent fibers—synthetic, mink, faux mink, or silk—glued to your existing eyelash line. You can get a variety of lengths, curl patterns, and tints so you can customize your look.
Lash lift This procedure is basically a perm for your natural lashes. The aesthetician applies a chemical solution that helps to curl your lash from the base to the tip so you see the full length.
Latisse Growth Serum Latisse is a serum that you apply similarly to how you would brush on your mascara. Its active ingredients prolong the active growth phase causing your natural lashes to grow fuller and longer.
Are these options safe?
As an ophthalmologist, I am honest in saying that there is no completely safe method for enhancing lashes. Whether you decide to use any of the products or treatments listed above, you must know that they all carry varying degrees of risk. It’s very important to educate yourself on what those risks are.
Here are some of my top-line recommendations
- If you need any type of eye surgery, I strongly discourage you from using any of these products or treatments as they will significantly increase your risk of complications.
- I do not recommend eyelash lifts (or tinting) at all as the chemical solutions used can be toxic to the surface of the eye. This could cause damage to your delicate cornea. If you decide to go this route regardless of this risk, find an aesthetician with many years of experience. Be sure to ask them what they would do in case of emergency. Having the chemical on your eye can be very painful!
- I do feel there is a time and place for eyelash extensions, especially for those who cannot tolerate growth serums like Latisse. But be aware that the extensions themselves (as well as the solvents to remove the glue) can cause allergic reactions. There are other downsides including infection and loss of lashes. You read that last part right: you could end up with less lashes than what you started with.
- When appropriate and safe, I like to recommend Latisse. It is an extensively studied medication with low risk (in the right users, of course). From a purely aesthetic standpoint, it gives you a more natural look with longer, darker, fuller lashes. If you don’t like the results or you decide to stop using the product at any time, you simply revert back to the way your lashes looked prior to the treatment.
If you are looking for luscious lashes of your youth, I can’t stress this enough: understand the treatments and outcomes, know the risks inside and out, and be sure to ask your lash technician or doctor lots of questions about safety!
After all, your eyes are so important and you need to take the best care of them!
Are you curious to learn more about lengthening your eyelashes with Latisse, offered at Be Beautiful Medical? Reach out to us to book a free consultation to discuss if it’s right for you!