Do Eyelashes Age?

As we age, our eyelashes begin to thin.  Our eyelashes, like the hair on our head, have hair follicles and go through stages of continued regrowth throughout our lives. They go through four stages: they grow, they rest, they shed, and they regrow. As we age, the eyelash follicles slow the cycle of new lash formation, or can even stop altogether, leading to natural thinning of our eyelashes. Additionally, women over the age of 40 go through menopause, with a reduction of estrogen production, which is vital for collagen production and healthy thick hair, eyebrows and eyelashes. With menopause, most women will notice changes in hair, eyelashes and eyebrows. They become dry, coarse, brittle and more apt to break.  This leads to short, stubbly thinned lashes. The lash quality is also affected. They are shorter and straighter. And if this were not bad enough, our eyelashes also gray with age. Like the hair on your head and your eyebrows, melanin production in the lash follicles slows and can stop with age.  




First of all, if this occurs prematurely, rule out any medical conditions that can cause premature thinning of the lashes. Some of these include thyroid disease, psoriasis, eczema, certain medications, blepharitis or demodex infections of the lashes, alopecia, chemotherapy drugs, trichotillomania, allergic reactions to mascara, cancer of the eyelid area, or chronic inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.  


Start taking care of your eyelashes AND protect your precious eyelash follicles as soon as possible. Never sleep with eye makeup on. Remove mascara before bed, because it can make the lashes brittle and break. Implement good daily lash hygiene.  After removing makeup, gently clean the eyelashes twice a day with either Ocusoft lid scrub pads or tear- free baby shampoo. Afterwards, use a hypochlorous acid spray on the lashes and let air dry. This will kill any bacteria present, and also has antiviral properties, including killing coronavirus.  Replace mascara monthly to prevent infection with bacteria, which can live in the mascara as well. Use disposable wands with mascara to prevent bacteria from growing in the mascara tube and reinfecting every time you use it. Do not ever do lash extensions, which break the lashes and can damage the lash follicles. Do not do lash perms that can also break the lashes and have chemicals that are harmful to the eye and ocular structures. Be careful with eyelash curlers, and do not use heated curlers that can also break lashes and damage them.  


While prostaglandin analog growth serums will grow lashes by lengthening the time of the growth, or anagen phase of the eyelash cycle, they have many unwanted side effects.  Patients can get dry eyes, discolored skin, permanent eye color changes, red irritated eyes, inflammation and allergic reactions of the lids and eyes, and fat atrophy around the eyes.  This side effects are common and occur in both Latisse and cousin prostaglandin analogs, like isopropyl clopropstenate in most growth serums such as Rodin and Fields Lash Boost. Also, women should be aware that these prostaglandin analog growth serums only work while they are being used. Once stopped, the lash cycle is no longer altered, and the thinned lashes will return. Also note that lashes grown are not always akin to youthful lashes. They can grow in irregular directions and can be straighter than natural youthful lashes. 


Other natural lash serums that do not contain prostaglandin analogs can be very helpful in conditioning the lashes, moisturizing them after mascara is removed, so they are not as brittle and do not break as easily, and may promote lash growth. Castor oil has fatty acids and vitamin E, which hydrate the lashes to prevent breakage, and coat them to make them look thicker and shinier. In addition to hydrating the lashes, castor oil may actually naturally promote lash and eyebrow growth because it has a very high concentration (90% concentration) of ricin in it. Ricin has natural anti-inflammatory properties and stimulates the blood supply to the eyelash follicle, providing more oxygen and nutrients to the hair follicle, which can stimulate healthy eyelash growth. As with any product, this should be tested prior to use to make sure there is no allergy. However, castor oil is safe to use on the eyelashes, and when applied, can also help patients with dry eye by leaching into the tear film and stabilizing it, preventing evaporation. Other natural and safe hydrating oils in lash serums include coconut oil, which also has natural antiviral and antibacterial properties, as well as Argan oil. 




Eyelashes are there to protect your eyes. Keeping them healthy and free of bacteria will not only keep you with a youthful appearance, but it is also essential to eye health. So please keep your eyelashes healthy and clean and be careful what you put on them. Mascara can help give a full lash appearance, but please be careful of the ingredients. Waterproof mascaras especially can have ingredients toxic to the ocular surface.  Dispose of mascara monthly, and ideally use disposable wands for application. AND, SISTERS, ALWAYS REMOVE MASCARA AND EYE MAKE-UP BEFORE BED!

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