If you’ve tried just about everything to get longer lashes, know you’re not alone—because we have too. And we know firsthand how frustrating it can be to not see the results you want—even after trying every old wives’ tale in the book.
Of course, there are tons of these “old wives’ tales” circulating online, like using lemon juice (ouch), coating your lashes in Vaseline, and “massaging” the lash line. The thing is, these methods aren’t proven to be effective—and could actually harm your eye area and lash line in the process. It’s better to stick to what the experts recommend, and what’s been proven to actually work. We’ve already put our lashes through enough, let’s be honest. That’s why we talked to the pros to find out what could actually give you longer eyelashes—thankfully, putting lemon juice near your eye isn’t on the list.
Practice Proper Grooming to Prevent Breakage
When you're trying to grow out your lashes, the best thing you can do is go easy on ‘em. Pick a gentle makeup remover and choose a mascara that’s easy to rinse off. As nice as waterproof formulas are for some occasions, the removing process isn’t great for them.
Also: Step away from the lash curler. “I’d suggest avoid using a lash curler that could cause damage to your natural lashes while regrowing,” says Starr. She also suggests brushing your lashes regularly to avoid breakage, and taking biotin supplements for good measure.
Another thing you should avoid? Lash adhesives. (The pain you feel when you take off your falsies after a night out is real, and the glue could actually be causing long-term damage to your lashes.) Essentially, any of these "quick fixes" aren't good for the health of your natural lashes in the long-run.
Talk to Your Dermatologist About a Lash Growth Serum (They Really Work)
There are tons of lash-growth serums on the market with proven effectiveness. “The active ingredient in [many serums like] Latisse is bimatoprost, which has been shown in clinical studies to make eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker,” says King. “It works by lengthening the time the follicle stays in the growth phase.”
Latisse is typically known as the “gold standard,” according to many pros, and as King mentions, it has been proven effective. Still, it’s important to talk to a dermatologist first and do your research before choosing the one for you.
“A number of over-the-counter cosmetic products are advertised to increase the length, fullness, and/or darkness of eyelashes,” King says. “These products contain various ingredients such as ‘proprietary peptides,’ natural extracts, and vitamins, but since they’re technically ‘cosmetics,’ their efficacy has not been critically evaluated and their safety has not been fully studied.”
So, it’s important to note that some of the OTC lash serums on the market haven’t been critically evaluated or fully studied. “The mechanisms by which they may affect eyelash growth are largely unknown and unproven,” she says. “These products also vary in quality and comprehensiveness of consumer education regarding proper use.”
Starr agrees that it’s important to do your research into which lash serums are actually effective—and most importantly, safe for your eye area. “Lots of lash products on the market have harmful ingredients in them that could lead to permanent damage,” she says. “Although you can have amazing results when you use them, as soon as you stop, it can lead to your natural lashes falling out or becoming weaker, or other harmful, long-term side effects.”
That’s why, again, it’s important to talk to your dermatologist to find one that’ll give you the best results—not only for now, but for down the road. “Find a natural, safe serum you love, and apply it twice a day with a clean brush.” (Latisse, for example, provides disposable single use applicator brushes meant to minimize the risk of bacterial or fungal contamination or infection.)
Try Castor Oil and Coconut Oil
If you’re weary of lash serums, want to avoid chemicals, or you’ve experienced irritation while using them, there are some natural DIY methods that might be worth trying.
“There isn’t any real data to support the efficacy of castor oil or coconut oil for eyelash growth, but I do think the hydrating properties of these oils may be helpful if your lashes are becoming brittle and broken due to the use of mascara, eyelash adhesives, and curling devices,” King says.
And while there’s no direct scientific evidence that castor oil directly stimulates lash growth, specifically, it might have some benefits for your hair (and your lashes, by extension). “It won’t damage your hair at all, and can actually provide some conditioning that improves the flexibility of the hair fiber," King says.
Get Lash Extensions For Instant Gratification
When all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with getting lash extensions, which are semi-permanent fibers attached to your natural lashes (using a glue-like substance) in order to make them appear fuller, longer, and darker.
In fact, when applied correctly, they’re totally gorgeous and natural-looking (thanks to high-quality fibers, which vary between synthetic, silk, or mink), and you can even customize your look with different tints, lengths, and curl patterns. Just don’t try this at home (duh)—you’ll need to go to a pro for this.
“Do your research, make sure you’re seeing someone who’s highly trained and skilled in lashes,” Starr advises. They’re pain-free, virtually waterproof, and usually safe when applied properly; however, as previously mentioned, they may irritate eyes and lashes, especially when applied improperly.
Or Try a Lash Lift to Enhance Your Natural Lashes
Another treatment you can consider is a lash perm or lift, which uses a chemical solution to curl your lashes from base to tip. (So, yes, you can officially put down the lash curler.) Rather than extensions, getting a lash perm utilizes your existing lashes for an 100 percent natural look and feel.
Note that the process usually begins with a tint, and your lash specialist might determine your lashes are already too short, damaged, or weak for a lash perm. (Like the hair on your head, you need enough to style.)
It’s generally a painless process, and extremely effective—read a Byrdie staffer’s experience with it for yourself.
American Academy of Ophthalmology. Eyelash extension facts and safety. Updated February 23, 2018.
Bitton E, Courey C, Giancola P, Diaconu V, Wise J, Wittich W. Effects of LATISSE (bimatoprost 0.03 per cent topical solution) on the ocular surface. Clin Exp Optom. 2017;100(6):583-589. doi:10.1111/cxo.12507