‘Lash Baths’ Are the Only Way a Dermatologist and an Ophthalmologist Want You To Take Off Your Mascara—Here’s How To Do Them Right

Photo: Getty Images/ raquel arocena torres
There was a stretch of time when I loved getting regular lash extensions. While I'm on the natural train now, it looks like I wasn't the only lover, with the industry continuing to soar year after year. A report by Fortune Business Insights valued the global false lash industry at $1.33 billion in 2022, with projections to grow to $2.12 billion by 2030. While extensions are in my past, one thing I learned during that time was the importance of cleaning in and around the lashes and eyes. So it's good that recent times have seen new popularity in the term 'lash bath'. And the best part is that the additional skin care step benefits everyone—not just those with lash extensions.

What is a lash bath?

“A lash bath is a term used to describe cleansing your eyelashes of impurities and makeup residue,” explains Dr. Harold Lancer, founder of Lancer Skincare. And while most of us will cleanse our faces, including over the eye and lash region, it’s not the same as a daily lash bath.

“Traditional face washes contain ingredients that are too harsh for the delicate eye area,” says Dr. Lancer. The skin around our eyes is more delicate and incredibly thin, so it’s important to be gentle and focus on this area separately. On top of that, our lashes are a first line of defense against damage to the eyes, so they need some extra TLC. “The skin, as well as your lashes, are your first lines of defense against bacteria, debris, and other harmful contaminants that could damage your eyes,” says Dr. Diane Hilal-Campo, board-certified ophthalmologist and founder of twenty/twenty beauty. “We only get one set of eyes, and proper care is critical to ensure ocular health. If you harm the skin or lashes, you put your eyes in harm's way, too.”

Why are lash baths important?

In the past, it has been assumed that lash baths are for just those with extensions. However, Dr. Hilal-Campo says it's not exclusive and should be done by all each night. “Lash baths not only remove the makeup, dirt, debris, and dust in and on your lids and lashes but also help prevent Demodex, a type of mite that is naturally found in the lashes.”

How to give yourself a lash bath

First and foremost, it’s crucial to remember how delicate the area is, so slow and steady wins the race. After that, it’s as simple as using your lash cleanser with a gentle tool brush to cleanse and purify them. “Don’t use anything with sharp bristles, as they can damage your eyes,” warns Dr. Hilal-Campo. “Also do not rub at your eyes and lashes when trying to cleanse them - this is very irritating and can even pull lashes out or harm your eyes.” And if you don’t feel like you got it all cleaned the first time, don’t be afraid to go over it again. "Keep it simple and rinse thoroughly with warm water when you’re done,” says Dr. Lancer.

The best products for lash baths

First and foremost, Dr. Hilal-Campo notes that lash baths are not antibacterial, something to keep in mind, particularly for those with lash extensions. “To sanitize lash extensions safely, I recommend using a hypochlorous acid spray like twenty/twenty beauty’s Easy on the Eyes Daily Hygiene Spray. Using a delicate spray like that, made for the eye area, is non-irritating, will not only kill bacteria but also does not contain any oil - so, therefore, will not loosen the glue of the extensions. “Hypochlorous acid is naturally found in the body and helps rid of bacteria,” explains the ophthalmologist. “The acid is produced by your white blood cells to help destroy invaders, and is not only great at cleansing the skin and lashes but also wonderful for starving off breakouts and styes.”

If you do have lash extensions, then you’re advised to stay away from oil-based products. However, if you don’t and you’re looking for a natural alternative for a lash cleaner, Dr. Hilal-Campo suggests poppy seed oil as it's gentle and nourishing. Additionally, she warns to stay away from products that contain aqueous solution. “Many aqueous-based eye makeup removal products are harsh on the skin and lashes because they contain harsh preservatives," she says.

And following the bath, optimal eyecare is encouraged. “To further promote lash health, incorporate a lash serum into your nighttime skincare routine,” says Dr. Lancer. The celebrity-loved dermatologist recommends a product like his Lancer Skincare Lash Serum Intense, which contains high-performance conditioning agents, pumpkin seed extract, and essential fatty acids, which can help improve the look of thin or sparse lashes.

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