In case you're not familiar, eyelash extensions involve attaching small, individual hairs (often made from synthetic fibers, silk, or even mink) one at a time to your natural lashes using a medical glue. The results can last anywhere from six weeks to two months, with the option of getting them re-filled when they fall out. "Eyelash extensions can and do put stress on the lash follicle, and if there is already a condition of weakness, this service can be of detriment," says Vincent De Marco, trichologist and co-owner of Vincent Hair Artistry in Los Angeles. "In addition, the adhesive remover is rough on the lash follicle, which can induce excessive shedding of the lashes."
If you're longing for a lash extension-like effect (or just healthy, natural lashes) without a trip to the salon, keep reading to find out exactly what you can do to regrow your eyelashes at home.
1. Use a lash serum
"Eyelashes go through the same growth phases as the hair on your scalp—they grow, rest, and fall out," notes Tabitha Fredrichs, trichologist and fine hair specialist in Plymouth, Minnesota. "The growing phase can last anywhere from four to eleven months before they shed naturally." That said, as we age, the lash cycle shrinks, resulting in shorter, more sparse hairs over time. (Note: This is all assuming your lashes haven't stopped growing due to medication, cancer treatment, or alopecia, according to De Marco).
The goal with any lash rehab plan is to slow down your shed rate in order to maximize fullness and length. To achieve that, try a lash-enhancing serum. There's prescription Latisse, an FDA-approved serum that contains bimatoprost, an ingredient that helps keep hair in the growing stage for a longer period of time, according to Fredrichs. But if you'd prefer something over-the-counter, she recommends choosing a serum that contains biotin, amino acids, and proteins to help create a nourishing environment for the lashes. The NeuLash Lash Enhancing Serum ($150) includes all of the aforementioned ingredients and more, plus it boasts a nourishing formula that hydrates, strengthens, and protects lashes against future damage.
2. Choose (and remove) eye makeup carefully
If you're an avid lash extension devotee, chances are removing your eye makeup with the utmost caution is second nature—at least, it should be. "Aggressively scrubbing your eye makeup off will only break your lashes, and using harsh makeup removers with alcohol will make your lashes brittle," warns Fredrichs. "To remove eye makeup, close your eyes and gently swipe down and out from the inside to the outside in a soft sweeping motion." And it may go without saying, but avoid waterproof mascara. Not only can it dehydrate your lashes, but it may tempt you to scrub more forcefully when it comes time to remove.
When it comes to mascara, opt for ones with lash-loving oils and waxes because moisture is key. We're big fans of the Thrive Causemetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara ($24), which fakes the look of extensions all while dousing your lashes with clean, moisture-laden ingredients like castor seed oil and shea butter.
3. Avoid eyelash curlers
We know, we know. Lash curlers are touted for giving straight lashes a much-needed boost, but we'd be lying by omission if we didn't tell you that they have the potential to pull out the lashes you're working so hard to regrow. Not to mention, over time and with daily use, eyelash curlers can wear down your lashes and cause them to decrease in density. We're not saying to ditch your most prized beauty tool completely, but giving your lashes a break from time to time can encourage them to grow without any disruption.
If you're looking for a lift, try this curler-less hack: Apply your mascara from root to tip, then carefully use the end of a makeup brush to hold the lashes up until the product dries completely. Just as you'd let a curl cool in the palm of your hand after running an iron through it, letting the mascara formula dry completely in place before releasing will help the curl hold its shape longer.
4. Switch up your diet
The same foods that are beneficial for your hair and scalp work for your eyelashes as well. Fredrichs says to load up on foods that are chock-full of biotin and vitamin B's like egg yolk, spinach, oats, cauliflower, avocados, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. De Marco agrees with the idea that your diet can affect your lash growth, adding that collagen-producing foods (think: bone broth, citrus fruits, and garlic), as well as vitamin C-rich foods, can help accelerate growth. In fact, he says that vitamin C is essential, as our bodies need it to actually produce collagen. "I highly recommend taking a vitamin C time-released supplement, either in pill form or in liquid form," he says. "They can help with not only eyelash repair, but skin and hair as well." Try Emergen-C's Vitamin C Powder ($12)—the individual packets are easy to take on-the-go and they offer up serious immune-boosting benefits too.
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