If you’re suffering from lackluster lashes, you’re certainly not alone. We—as makeup lovers—put our lashes through a lot, and it’s totally normal if you notice they’re more “scant” than “spidery” these days.
The thing is, it could be any number of underlying causes when it comes to your broken, skimpy lashes. That’s why we tapped Dr. Penny James—IAT-certified trichologist, owner of Penny James Salon, and hair expert to stars like SJP and Brooke Shields—to walk us through the “why” and the “how” when it comes to identifying the issue and getting your lashes back into shape.
Read on for Dr. James' advice for regrowing your lashes.
Be Gentle When Removing Your Makeup
Is there anything more satisfying than taking a good makeup remover to the face at the end of the day? (Answer: no.) That said, it’s important to not get too blasé with the process—because you could be seriously damaging your lashes (and their subsequent growth) if you’re not careful.
Instead of wreaking havoc on your lash line with makeup remover and a cotton round, try a cleansing balm like this Drunk Elephant option. It gently melts mascara and other stubborn makeup away to help preserve your lashes.
Take a Break From Lash Services
Yes, that includes your favorite falsies. I know, I know—the horror. But the truth is, if you’re trying to regrow your lashes, the mascara, glue, and eyelash extensions certainly aren’t helping, says Dr. James. In fact, they’re likely completely impeding the regrowth process by causing breakage and brittleness.
Lash extensions can be especially damaging, as when an extension falls out (or breaks off), it takes the original lash it was attached to with it. Let your current extensions fall out naturally (don't pull!), then let the regrowth process begin. If you feel naked without lash extensions, it's just because A) you're used to that dramatic look and B) your lashes are likely shorter and more sparse than they were when you got your first set.
Try a Trusted Lash Serum
Many lash serums have a cult following for a reason: They can actually work. The formulas that are ultra-rich in biotin—the vitamin that fosters healthy hair and nail growth—can noticeably improve your lash situation in as little as a few weeks. Just apply daily on the roots of your lashes for longer, darker lashes you’ll love. You can ask your physician about Latisse (an effective lash serum that requires a prescription) or try one of these over the counter options that live up to the hype.
Ask Your Doctor About Prescribed Topical Solutions
If you’ve been dealing with sparse lashes for as long as you can remember, it might be a little more complicated than your average wear and tear.
“The most common reason for lashes falling out is Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that can cause hair loss all over the body,” says Dr. James. “It could also be an indication that your thyroid is off, and blood tests can confirm this.”
Do not diagnose yourself or hit up WebMD—see a doctor first, who might decide the issue is best treated from the inside-out. Dr. James suggests a consultation with a trichologist and topical solutions for the scalp. It may seem odd to treat your scalp for a lash issue, but these topical solutions do, in fact, promote healthy hair growth for the rest of your body by stimulating blood circulation. It may work wonders for anyone who can’t seem to regrow their lashes no matter how hard they try.
Skip the Eyelash Curler
This may come as a shock, but clamping down on your eyelashes with stainless steel isn't the best way to promote growth. Curling your eyelashes weakens your lashes from root to tip, which means breakage and fall-out. Instead, try a mascara that's specifically formulated to lift and curl your lashes.
Ask Yourself If You're Stressed
If you realize you have a compulsive behavior of pulling out your lashes intentionally—you may not even realize you’re consciously doing it—you could have trichotillomania, an impulse control disorder.
Many of us have nervous or stress-related habits (I’m a nail-biter myself), and it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. If you want to get ahead of the disorder before you further damage your lashes, try seeing a therapist to work through it.
Once you nail down what the issue behind your sparse lashes is and decide on a solution that fits, the sky’s (literally) the limit when it comes to your lash growth.
Take Biotin Supplements
Biotin is a key supplement when it comes to nail and hair health, and it's been said to help with the strength and growth of eyelashes as well. This specific biotin supplement from Olly also contains Vitamin C and E for purported skin benefits like barrier support and brightening (and they're delicious, btw).
Try a Home Remedy, Like Coconut Oil
There's no scientific evidence to back claims that coconut oil boosts lash growth (or any kind of hair growth for that matter), but we do know it's a great conditioner. Try coating your lashes in coconut oil in the evenings using a clean spooly to strengthen and condition them. Instagram is also home to promising reviews of using castor oil for lash regrowth (which is supported by some dermatologists, but still unproven).
Next up, people keep asking this Byrdie editor where she got her eyelash extensions done, but it's actually mascara