Since I started embracing the concept of self-love, I am continuously growing to fully celebrate every part of my body. From the tiny little curves from my not-so-flat tummy to my thick thighs, and even my short lashes. Lashes wouldn’t probably make everyone’s list of insecurities so it makes it kind of weird, right? But it’s true. I’ve always wanted long dark natural lashes because, by standards, this was the “it”. Thankfully, I’ve learned to love these short lashes and discovered five ways I could actually (and fakely) grow my lashes whenever I feel like it!
The Health and Beauty Context of Eyelashes
Eyelashes have always been a feature attributed to health and beauty.
Healthy eyelashes are a sign of an overall healthy condition. There are certain diseases such as psoriasis, rosacea, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, scleropa, atopic dermatitis, and a quite a long list of other disorders manifest eyelash loss or commonly referred to as milphosis or madarosis. Madarosis came from the Greek word “madao” which means “to fall off”. Originally, it is a disease isolated to loss of eyelashes but currently, it has also been associated with the loss of eyebrows. This condition may lead to either complete or partial loss of eyelash hair or eyebrow on one side of the face or both due to apparent thinning of hair growth in these areas.
Aside from that, it’s also associated with chastity. In history, Roman naturalist Pliny the Elder suggested that eyelash loss indicates engagement in too much sex though said in hindsight humor could have some truth in it. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is spread via sexual contact which starts as a painless sore and can be cured through antibiotic intakes as long as the infection has not yet inflicted damage.
In the context of beauty, it has been a long-standing aesthetic signifying superior feminine beauty specifically long dark eyelashes. History has evidenced this in different art forms. For example, many famous paintings of beautiful women emphasized the lashes. One classic is John Singer Sargent’s 1884 work Portrait of Madame X. Picasso also featured this in many of his paintings depicting his lover, the Surrealist artist Dora Maar. It can also be seen in poetry. In 1843, English poet Thomas Hood in his poem Ruth, he expressed,
“Round her eyes her tresses fell,
Which were blackest none could tell,
But long lashes veiled a light,
That had else been all too bright.”
This was just a first or one among the many poems that featured the beauty held in eyelashes. Today, several theories try to answer the psychology behind the aesthetic of eyelashes and why it is largely linked to femininity despite being a feature found in both men and women.
In studies conducted throughout the 20th century, behavioral scientists discovered that forehead and large eyes elicit “protecting and caretaking responses from adults”. In a similar tone, wide, round eyes, as well as high eyebrows and small chins which are features attributed to babies are correlated to naivete, honesty, kindness, warmth subsequently awakening affectionate feelings from other adults.
How do eyelashes play a role here?
Eyelashes, especially darkened ones, help bring out this emphasis on the eyes. Scientifically or technically speaking, the eyelashes outline the sclera (the white area of the eyes) and the limbal ring (the dark ring around the iris of the eyes). Researchers have discovered that limbal rings are more distinguished during an individual’s most fertile years and in evolutionary psychology dark limbal rings are associated with facial attractiveness. In addition to that scientific note, eyelash movements create more attention towards and around the eye.
On the other hand, why are eyelashes linked more as a feminine beauty standard?
Marianne LaFrance, professor of psychology and gender and sexuality studies at Yale, offers some insights. According to her, eyes and mouth are considered “attraction magnets” on the face of a woman and compared analogies on eyes and mouths. She said, “What eyelashes do is like what lipstick does, and eyelashes may actually even do it more: They draw a contrast between the eye itself and the eyelid like lipstick draws attention to the contrast between the lips and the surrounding area.” Attractiveness indicators on men, on the other hand, are attributed to eyebrows and jawline which are considered masculine features asserting qualities like confidence and assertiveness.
Moreover, recent research has also shown that the eyes take up more space on women’s faces compared to men. Consequently, the space between the eyes in women is less, making them look closer together.
The Science of Eyelashes
Eyelashes or lashes (as a ‘nickname’) are part of the sensory system, a hair that grows at the edge of an eyelid (upper and lower) and unlike other parts of the body, they are not androgenic and therefore not affected by puberty.
The root of each eyelash is anchored to the root hair plexus which is responsible for the blinking response of the eye. It is then connected to a network of capillaries and glands to assist in three major functions namely lubrication, nutrition, and microbial defense. First is the Gland of Moll which is a small, modified sweat gland found at the base of the eyelash and second is the Gland of Zeis which are small modified oil glands that secrete from the eyelid margin directly into the tears. These two glands work hand-in-hand to keep the eyes ‘supple and oily’ and coated with a layer of protection.
Eyelashes of the human embryo develop from the ectoderm – the germ layer that covers the outside of the embryo – from the 22nd week of pregnancy until the 26th. The eyelashes outline the upper eyelid with around 200-300 upward curving lashes which are longer than the estimated 100 individual lashes on the lower lid. In general, the middle section of the lashes is longer than those nearing the edge.
Only the upper lashes are capable of growth and these do not grow beyond a certain length. The average lash length according to studies is 10mm. In 2007, Stuart Muller who was then an agricultural and biological engineering doctoral student defied all the scientific odds and recorded the longest individual eyelash (white) at 2.6 inches or roughly 6.99 cm. He beat the previous record set in 2006 by Jolie Matzes at 2.52 inches or 6.4 cm long. According to Muller, a “mutant hair follicle” on his eyelid enabled him to grow a lash that long.
On a normal growth and development cycle, it takes eyelashes 3 months to complete the 3 phases: (1) anagen phase or the active growth phase where a lash spends 90% of its time with the average growth rate of 0.16mm per day, (2) catagen phase or the transitional phase, and lastly (3) telogen phase or the resting phase. In a natural state, eyelashes fall out daily without trimming (around 1-5 strands) though these could also be pulled out. When pulled out, it would take 7-8 weeks to grow back again and is not recommended since it can cause permanent damage especially when it is done in routine.
Purpose of Eyelashes: The Wind Tunnel Experiment
Basic science knowledge answers that eyelashes function to protect eyes from debris, dust, and small particles. Eyelashes contain tiny mites called Demodex which remove dirt and dust and clean the lash follicle to prevent eye issues like a sty. It’s also sensitive to touch which triggers reflexive closing and provides warning with incoming materials.
Apart from these two basic functions or purposes, the eyelash remains a subject of mystery by scientists until a study was published entitled, “Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eyes” in April 2015.
This research started three years before publication after senior author and mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, David Hu was inspired with the question on the purpose of eyelashes after his daughter was born with ‘long batting eyelashes’. This was the same narrative in his previous published study which discovered that most mammals take 21 seconds to urinate as he thought of this idea while changing a diaper.
To answer his question, he proceeded to the Museum of Natural History in New York where a vast collection of animal pelts are stored. He measured the eye slit and eyelashes of 22 species of mammals including chimpanzee, red panda, porcupine, cougar, and camel where he discovered a pattern. Despite the obvious difference in the sizes of the mammals, the length of their eyelashes was one third the eye width of the animal. Hu and colleagues used the Wind Tunnel Experiment to confirm that this is the optimal eyelash length. In this experiment, they built a 2 feet wind tunnel which shall mimic the airflow encountered by animals while moving at a natural walking pace. They used a shallow aluminum pan for the fake eye.
During the experiment, they used three materials to act as eyelashes — paperboard, fake eyelashes made out of human hair, and mesh. Here are what they found out:
- A nonporous material such as the paperboard interferes with vision and can not be considered as protection for the eyes even though it was most effective in reducing the deposition of airborne materials and evaporation of tear film factor.
- The mesh and fake eyelashes gave out the same result – that is, the protection that these two materials provided increased until it reached the tested optimal length.
- Moreover, beyond the optimal length, evaporation and deposition piled up behaving as if there was no protection at all.
Short eyelashes create a stagnation zone above the ocular surface which thickens the boundary layer therefore decreasing shear stress with increasing eyelash length while long lashes channel flow towards the ocular surface. Optimal length, on the other hand, gives a balance between reducing visual obstruction and airflow at the eye surface.
The mystery function is revealed: Eyelashes, at optimal length, reduce the flow of air over the eyeball which is very important in keeping evaporation at bay and depositing particles that can irritate the eye. It creates a “speedbump” – a mechanical sensor and sunshade which acts as a filter. Unlike most filters that operate to collect dust and particles, eyelashes redirect. The porosity and flexibility facilitate cleaning of the eye as well as the passage of light which is critical to eye function.
4 Ways to Grow your Lashes
1. Fake Eyelashes
Fake eyelashes or false eyelashes or falsies in short came into existence in 1911. According to The New York Times, the first artificial lashes were patented by Anna Taylor who is a Canadian woman also credited with the invention of the strip lash. A strip lash is small hairs attached to a piece of fabric and placed on the upper lash line using an adhesive. It became popular as they created the illusion of a bigger and brighter eye.
Five years later in 1916, falsies became a trend in the silver screen when American filmmaker D.W. Griffith wanted to make the lashes of the leading lady in the 1916 Intolerance to be fuller and longer. But according to a report, the push of magazines such as Vogue – a well-known fashion magazine – was what really put falsies into the limelight. “A [Vogue] ad from the 1930s, featuring two models posed with eyelashes that were golden or beaded with platinum showed that they weren’t just intended to look natural,” according to Racked.
What are the different types of Falsies?
Individual lashes can be purchased in sets of 30-60 strands which have varying lengths designed for customized looks. These lashes should be your go-to when you are trying to only give a ‘subtle, all-over boost’ to your natural lashes. Alternatively, these are also great options when you just want to add definition in certain areas.
Most who prefer individual lashes are in for a more natural look or looking to fill any gaps in the lash line. Individual lash lines are easier to control and provide you with many look options from a natural day look to a fierce evening look making it a very versatile piece.
Clusters are also known as “flares” or “accents” and work to your advantage when you do not have enough time to glue in individual lash lines or if you’re still not confident in applying a full strip lash. According to beauty experts, cluster lashes are recommended in creating a variety of looks by strategically placing them either in gaps or as clusters at the edge. They’re more workable pieces as compared to a full strip and do not require as much detail and intricate application as your individual lashes.
Falsies are usually most associated as strip lash which is a horizontal band of faux wisps placed and worn across the whole lash line. These are used to add drama, flair, and volume to your eyes and are available in variety like black bands for a definition or invisible bands for a more subtle look.
Strip lash requires more efficiency in application and should complement the wearer’s eye shape. These are easy to access and purchase and are quite affordable. Though if you’re looking for a high-end strip lash made out of natural fibers like mink and silk, be prepared to spend.
Magnetic Lashes are relatively new to the market and solve the problem of many who struggle in applying and removing classic falsies using adhesives. These are available in clusters and strips and becoming more mainstream with popular beauty brands adopting the style and selling them at affordable prices. This is a great option if you’re looking for a reusable lash.
These lashes are what can be described as the peacocks of the lash world designed without any trace of subtlety. Instead, this one will definitely make you stand out from the crowd with its brightly and differently colored plumage. These are not really used in a common celebration or event context and are concentrated in character makeup. If you’re looking to be dramatic or theatrical, this is definitely your piece.
What are the tools and how do you apply, remove, and clean falsies?
As one writer in Allure puts it, applying falsies is high up on the difficulty matter and it really takes a while and practice to apply it perfectly. Nevertheless, once you’ve done it, you are going to turn heads.
- First, you have to prepare all your tools. Make sure you’ve chosen your false eyelash. Check if you’ve got the adhesive and lash scissors right there and of course your handy-dandy tweezers.
- Measure the strip against your eyelid and trim the excess off. (Keep the trimmed-off lashes because you can use that some other time.) This goes for a strip lash but for individuals and clusters, you wouldn’t need to do this step.
- Apply your lash glue as evenly as you can and let it stay for about 30 seconds about the time that it feels wet and tacky so you’re sure that it’s staying in place when you put it. One helpful tip you can use to distribute the glue evenly is to bend the strip and connect the ends before applying it.
- Next is putting the eyelash on which proves to be quite the debacle. Beauty experts share a tip to help out beginners. First, place a mirror directly under your face then on a perpendicular angle. Look down and you will observe that your lashes are extended. This gives you a vantage point wherein it looks like your eyes are closed yet you can still your lash line perfectly. If you’re looking for a demo, click at 2:24 here.
- Try not to close your eyes to maintain your eye shape before plopping those lashes. There are specific lash applicators especially if you’re putting in individual lashes but for this one, tweezers will do.
- Lastly, to make it look perfect and natural, apply a liquid liner from where it begins to the inner corner of your eyes.
There you have it! You can also check this link out to see how it’s done, step by step: https://youtu.be/__OWQetHdgw
BUT WAIT. Here’s the part we always never mind: removing and caring for your false eyelashes. These lashes can be reusable with proper care.
- Remove your eye makeup. Usually, it goes with removing your eyelashes first but some products enable you to soften the adhesive of your false eyelashes while thoroughly removing the makeup as well. This will help you get your false eyelashes out easier.
- You can remove your lashes either by directly but gently pulling them off from the outer corner of the eye working towards the inner corner. But you can also dip in a cotton swab into your liquid make-up remover and dab it across your lash line to further soften it to make it easier to strip off. Wait for the solution to seep before removing and don’t rush because you wouldn’t want to accidentally pull off your natural lash as well.
- Then proceed to remove glue residue from your lashes by applying oil products (coconut, olive, or any you prefer) though makeup remover can also do the trick.
- After that, remove the glue residue from your lashes either by hand or with the use of tweezers. Make sure you remove all lumpy bits of glue attached to it.
- To clean the lashes, place it on a small cotton pad and swab it with an oil-free based cleanser (glue will not adhere if you use oil products). Wipe it gently from the ban to lash tips.
- Air dry your lashes on a paper towel before storing it.
We must sanitize these things since these are applied to our eyes. You can check out how it’s done here: https://youtu.be/FACqQjrFewg
2. Eyelash Extension
Eyelash extensions are cosmetic applications used to enhance the length, curl, fullness, and thickness of natural lashes which are similar to the function of fake eyelashes. Lash extensions are usually put under the false eyelashes category but for the sake of discussion here, we’re putting it as a separate category.
These extensions are available in different materials according to preference and the method of application is slightly different from fake eyelashes as it uses cyanoacrylate adhesive (an ultra-strength glue) applied a bit off from the base of the natural eyelash so it does not make any contact with the eyelid. Additionally, it also needs a special lash remover.
What are the types of eyelash extensions?
The types of eyelash extensions are categorized by their material. Here we have 6 options you can choose from.
Mink Eyelash Extension
Downright I am telling you that this is the most expensive type of eyelash extension ranging from $300 to $500 for a set and clearly one of the most common among celebrities. Madonna was even once spotted sporting it in 2005 with 1 carat worth of diamonds.
Mink is a natural fiber but faces issues on the animal cruelty front. These are farmed and gently brushed from the animal of the same name – dark-colored, semiaquatic, carnivorous mammals. If you’re an advocate of PETA, this might not be a good choice for you.
Faux Mink Eyelash Extension
It’s mink but it’s synthetic which means it’s cruelty-free and also definitely cheaper. One advantage of faux minks is that they’re made out of polyester fiber, customizable, and do not lose their curl effect even when wet.
Sable Eyelash Extension
Like minks, these natural fibers are also farmed from animals named, well, sable which is found in Russia and Siberia. These are thin, fine, and fluffier than mink. It also creates a very wispy look. Sable eyelash extensions are quite rare on the market and are not readily accessible, unlike other materials.
Synthetic Eyelash Extension
These are your eyelash extensions for a bold and glamorous look. There’s no fur involved in the making of these which translates to a cheaper price. The beauty with synthetic materials is that you rarely would need mascara and other touchups to make it look perfect and natural.
Silk Eyelash Extension
Silk eyelash extensions are the combination of mink and synthetic in terms of look and thickness. These fibers are thicker at the bottom which makes the eyelash appear fuller but on the downside, it requires strong natural lashes to attach to since it’s heavy. These are perfect for glamorous night balls giving you a darker, fuller, and glossier look.
Fox Eyelash Extension
These are not as popular as the previously discussed eyelash extensions. They are soft and reddish-brown in color. Fox eyelash extensions also require extra care as it needs to be permed to maintain its curl.
What are the tools and how do you apply, remove, and clean eyelash extensions?
Eyelash extensions can be done through a salon or as most do today, DIY with YouTube. If you want professional care, eyelash extension services can range from $30 to as high as $500 which depends on the number and type of lashes being used, the skill and experience of your cosmetician, and the venue. Since there are around 200-300 lashes on the upper eyelid, it will take from one hour to three hours to attach a full set which usually lasts between 3-4 weeks. You can maintain it by refilling it every 2-3 weeks or partial set every 4 weeks.
But if you’re DIY-ing, here are some things you should know.
Before we go into the step-by-step procedure, here are some tools you need to check. First, make sure you have lash tweezers. An isolation tweezer to separate lashes for clean application and classic lash tweezers for applying extensions. Another is extension tape to hold down your bottom lashes. The third is a lash brush. This will help in maintaining the lash individuality and also prevents extensions from completely adhering to natural lashes. Next are your primer and micro brushes which strips oil and debris before application to improve extension retention. And of course, don’t forget your adhesive and adhesive remover.
Here is how it goes:
- First, apply patches which you’ve probably seen if you went straight to YouTube. Apply them below your eye careful to put it not too close to the lower lash line leaving an ample space of 3-4mm.
- Next, select your eyelash extensions. In terms of length, it is recommended 8mm eyelash extensions (typically range from 8-15mm in length) for the inner corner of the eye and use a variety of lengths to make a fuller and longer look.
- Spread lashes out on a vinyl pad and separate them for easier pickup.
- To put it properly, orient your extensions perpendicular to a straight tweezer.
- Put some adhesive onto a foil then dip your extensions while holding it from the tapered ends.
- Isolate the natural lashes and coat it evenly with adhesive while swiping from base to tip making sure that there are no gaps.
- Set in your extensions at least a millimeter from the base of the eyelid. Repeat it until finished. Make sure not to touch after application.
- Separate the eyelashes through a horizontal movement.
- After application, let it dry for at least 3-5 minutes to set in and then mist with distilled water then dry again before separating lashes for the final touch.
You can check this link out: https://youtu.be/Rhpubx3o420
To remove and care for your extension for next use, do the following steps:
- Splash and clean your face with lukewarm water and then gently massage an oil-free makeup remover around your upper and lower lash lines.
- Apply oil-free makeup remover to a brush then gently wash in a downward motion over the eyelid. Make sure to do only a downward motion as rubbing it back and forth may damage your extensions.
- Air dry your lash extensions and for extra care brush through your lash extensions with a clear mascara wand separate fluff.
3. Eyelash Conditioner
Eyelash conditioners work the same magic as hair conditioners. These help your eyelash to be soft and smooth after the day-to-day damage. Contrary to the confusion of many, lash conditioners are different from eyelash serums because its primary objective is providing moisture and nutrients to your natural lashes which are full of dirt. Apply the conditioner at night after cleansing and make sure to apply carefully since these products should not touch your sensitive eyes. If you experience any discomfort or side effects, ask a doctor.
4. Eyelash Serum
Eyelash serum is different from conditioner since these contain ingredients like peptides and amino acids that help new lashes grow, lengthen, and add density to your natural lash line making it look fuller.
Eyelash serums can be easily purchased in stores and it’s important to steer clear from any products with fragrance. Moreover, some serums have very intensive effects which include discoloration along the lash line. Before buying any product, here are some common and active ingredients found in eyelash serums.
This is a B vitamin known to strengthen keratin, a protein found in the hair thus improving the hair’s health. It is usually marketed as a conditioning treatment and the most common active ingredient found in serums. Although experts say that these could just be marketing ploys. Biotin, though to an extent functions as mentioned, does not assure lash growth as no studies are supporting this claim.
This is also a popular oil used in DIY serum hacks which are also claimed to promote lash growth though experts say in response that the lash is not actually becoming thicker. Instead, it makes the lash look glossier making it appear thicker and fuller.
Peptides, panthenol, and hyaluronic acid
Most serums use a combination of these three active ingredients which act as water binders and moisturizers. They are also known to increase the flexibility of hair/lashes to reduce breakage. And like castor oil, it coats lashes to make it look thicker and there are no studies that confirm that these actually promote lash growth.
There are two “types” of serum that you can try:
Latisse was the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for eyelash growth. It is a glaucoma drug in an eye drop solution called bimatoprost which has been in use since 2001. During the period of using the drug, patients noticed significant hair growth effects alongside lusher eyelashes. In studies conducted, Latisse lengthens, thickens, and darkens eyelashes by extending the anagen or growing phase and promoting an increased number of hair sprouts to develop through a process that has not yet been fully understood.
Latisse promises noticeable growth within 12 to 16 weeks of use. Individuals who participated in the clinical study of Latisse were observed to have at least 25% increase in eyelash length coupled with 106% increase in thickness and fullness and 18% increase in eyelash darkness.
How to apply?
Latisse is applied with provided sterile applicators by dabbing small amounts on the upper lash line every night. The drug then spreads to your lower lash line as you blink.
But before application, take note of the following:
- The face must be clean before application – that is, it’s free of any makeup and contacts should also be removed.
- Applicators should be discarded after every use or you risk eye infection or allergic reaction.
- Apply it carefully since Latisse is generally used to grow all kinds of hair. Additionally, be careful to not get it into your eyes. Although most participants did not experience anything after accidentally getting Latisse into their eyes, there were a few who suffered side effects such as – dry eyes, eye redness, eyelid skin darkening, and itchiness.
- Apply it religiously every night and after three or four months, you can opt to apply it every two days or as per doctor orders.
- If you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will return to its normal state.
What are the other potential side effects?
Latisse though declared safe for most people restricts people suffering from eye conditions such as uveitis and conjunctivitis, pregnant women, and nursing women from use. Additionally, if you are already using IOP-lowering medications for conditions like ocular hypertension and glaucoma, a doctor must first approve the use since Latisse lowers intraocular pressure.
Another side effect is the permanent brown pigmentation of the iris which was reported to be observed after using Latisse.
How much does it cost and where can I buy it?
A supply of 60 applicators good for one month costs about $120 but the price differs from one source to another. Though they do offer discounts for bulk purchases of a minimum of 3 months. You can buy it in any drugstore provided that you have a prescription.
DIY Eyelash Serum
Though active ingredients mentioned above are not exactly confirmed to promote lash growth and implies only misconceptions regarding their contribution to thicker and fuller eyelashes, most DIY eyelash serum recipes still include these as they claim that there are noticeable improvements.
For this recipe, prepare the following:
- 1 teaspoon castor oil
- 1 teaspoon emu oil or you can opt to use another teaspoon of castor
- ½ teaspoon coconut oil
- 2 capsules of vitamin E
It’s just easy to make this.
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bottle preferably a dropper type. Swirl to gently mix everything. Make sure the bottle is airtight.
- To use, just squeeze one drop on your hand and gently massage it onto your lashes. Do it after your routine and let it seep in overnight for maximum results before washing your face the next morning.
- Do it routinely to see effects and improvement.
It’s important to love every feature of your body but that doesn’t mean that you would need to shy away from methods that can actually help you achieve your dream look. Growing your eyelashes to make it look thicker and fuller can definitely boost your self-confidence so don’t let anyone tell you not to do it if you want to!