The following article has been reviewed by Leah Millheiser, MD.
If the eyes are the windows to the soul, the eyelashes are the drapery. Every woman wants long, full lashes and many are willing to go to great lengths to get them. From fake lashes to lash extensions, there are several things you can do to make your lashes appear longer or more voluminous, but few of the tips and tricks popular online are likely to produce any true results. The challenge becomes even greater if you suffer from a condition known as eyelash hypotrichosis.
Though the prevalence of hypotrichosis is unknown, many women seek to improve the appearance of their eyelashes. Read on to learn the truth behind the top 4 online tips for improving lash growth and to learn about several science-backed treatments proven to work.
What is Eyelash Hypotrichosis?
Hypotrichosis is a condition that affects the length, number, and texture of the hair. People who are born with this condition develop dry, coarse hair that also tends to be fairly sparse.
Though hypotrichosis typically affects the hair on the head and body, it can also affect the hair on the face such as the lashes. In fact, eyelash hypotrichosis is a related condition characterized by a lower than average thickness, length, and/or number of lashes. Hypotrichosis is often a genetic disease, but can also be triggered by factors such as:
- Hormonal changes (such as menopause)
- Getting older
- Inflammation of the eyelids
- Allergic reaction to certain cosmetics
- Overuse of eyelash curlers
- Rough makeup removal techniques
The internet is full of tips and tricks for just about any issue under the sun. Natural beauty tips are particularly popular of late with social media influencers touting the benefits of everything from coconut oil to activated charcoal.
Improving eyelash growth is another popular trend but, if you do your research, you’ll find that many tips are unfounded in science. Keep reading to learn more.
Debunking the Top 4 Online Tips to Boost Eyelash Growth
Before trying anything you find online, it is a good idea to do your own research or, at the very least, consult your physician. We’ve compiled a list of the top 4 online tips to boost eyelash growth and reviewed them with Dr. Leah Millheiser, MD, to judge their validity.
Here are the four tips we put to the test:
The eyelashes are like any other hair – they need to stay hydrated to be healthy and dry, brittle eyelashes are likely to fall out at an accelerated rate. Sources like Belashed suggest that applying Vaseline to the base of the lashes can improve hydration and reduce lash loss. Though the Vaseline may result in softer lashes, there is no scientific evidence to suggest that it improves growth and applying such an oily substance to the sensitive skin on the eyelids may cause irritation or inflammation.
- Coconut Oil
A healthy fat rich in medium-chain fatty acids, coconut oil is often labeled a “superfood” for the hair, skin, and body. Some online sources suggest that the natural hydrating properties of coconut oil can condition and nourish eh lashes, improving growth. There is no scientific evidence, however, supporting this benefit and even the source that tested it saw no new growth.
- Castor Oil
An ingredient used in many natural hair growth remedies, castor oil is rich in essential fatty acids that hydrate and nourish the eyelashes. Though there is limited scientific research showing the benefit of castor oil in reducing hair loss, there are no comprehensive studies regarding its potential use in improving eyelash growth.
In the same way that you trim your hair every 6 to 8 weeks, some online sources suggest that trimming your eyelashes every 2 to 3 months might encourage them to grow in longer and thicker. There is no data to support this, however, according to Dr. Natalie Epton, specialist pediatrician at International Pediatric Clinic.
Lash-Boosting Treatments that Actually Work
You can’t believe everything you read on the internet and the list above should be proof that a so-called miracle cure for eyelash hypotrichosis may not exist. Though slathering your lashes with Vaseline or trimming them on a monthly basis is unlikely to work, there are certain treatments that do.
Here are four treatments, medical and non-medical, that have shown results:
- Bimatoprost (Latisse)
- Biotin (Vitamin H)
- Lash extensions
- Lash-boosting mascara
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of these options.
The only science-backed and FDA-approved medical treatment for eyelash hypotrichosis is bimatoprost or Latisse. A lash serum applied daily, Latisse increases the proportion of lashes in the growth phase to produce longer, fuller looking lashes in as little as 8 weeks.
- Biotin (Vitamin H)
This vitamin has been shown to boost blood flow to the hair follicles (including the lashes) to improve hydration and reduce lash loss. According to Alan Pressman, author of “Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Vitamins,” biotin improves the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients that support lash growth.
- Lash Extensions
Lash extensions are a more permanent alternative to fake lashes, adding 70 to 80 lashes per eye that last several weeks at a time. The treatment costs anywhere from $100 to $400 and must be repeated as the lashes grow and fall out. There is some risk of damage to the natural lash, and some women develop an allergic reaction to the adhesive.
- Lash-Boosting Mascara
Any mascara is likely to make your lashes look longer or fuller, but lash-boosting mascara is a unique product formulated to provide the additional benefit of stimulating eyelash growth. Products like Physician’s Formula lash-bosting mascara have shown a 94% success rate in producing extended and fuller looking lashes in 4 weeks of use.
Before trying any treatment to improve eyelash growth or reduce lash loss, consult your physician. At the very least, try one of the science-backed methods discussed above over one of the online tips that have no foundation in scientific evidence.