Lashes are very much a part of who we are, and so should be paid the same attention we lavish on our skin and hair.
Quick question for you: In the pursuit of lush, long eyelashes, what’s your record for the number of coats of mascara you’ve applied in a single day? (Mine is five, but who’s counting…)
We curl and layer (and layer) mascara in the hopes of looking wide-eyed and awake, but all this attention can lead to lashes that are broken, crunchy, even missing. In other words, not healthy. The funny thing about eyelashes is that while they’re the target of much product-related talk, no one is really talking about how to care for them. Lashes are very much a part of our faces and so should be paid the same attention we lavish on our skin and hair. What’s more, the better care you take of your lashes, the less you’ll need all the gizmos and products that swear to make them appear healthier and fuller and lusher and longer etc. etc. etc.
How do you treat your eyelashes like a proper part of your beauty family? First, understand what they are: hair. That’s right, a lash is a hair that grows at the edge of the eyelid and protects eyes from unwanted debris like dirt, sweat and water. Basically, lashes are the first line of defense for your oh-so-sensitive eyeballs and as such, should be treated with care (not coated in five layers of mascara!). The lashes on your upper eyelid are fuller than those on your lower lashline (about 300 vs. 100 lashes), and the ones in the middle are often longer than those on the edges. They’re meant to fall out regularly — the lifecycle of a healthy lash is only about three months — and at any given time, 90% of your lashes are actively growing.
So if nearly all of your lashes are growing and developing nearly all the time, doesn’t it makes sense to care for them regularly and not just, like, once a year when you remember to? Yes, yes it does. And while there’s no one magic bullet that can guarantee healthy, happy lashes, a little mindfulness (and a couple of products) goes a long way.
Eyelash tip #1: Choose your mascara wisely.
Please, for the love of all that is good in this world, skip waterproof mascara whenever possible. Sure, if you know you’re going to be crying all day or swimming or getting splashed with face-fulls of water, reach for a waterproof formula. But for regular everyday wear, stay away from long-wear formulas. The chemical makeup of waterproof mascaras is incredibly drying — imagine what your hair would feel like if you blow-dried it every single day and then flat-ironed it and then never used conditioner — and its very nature makes it near impossible to remove without tugging out several lashes along the way.
Instead, look for an everyday mascara that’s made with natural ingredients like mineral pigments so as not to irritate the eyes, and hydrating, nourishing ingredients like oils, butters and waxes to condition lashes (and prevent the dreaded mascara clump!).
Also pay attention to the brush: One that’s flexible and has dense bristles means you’ll only have to apply a coat or two since you’ll likely hit all your lashes the first time around.
Eyelash tip #2: Remove mascara Every. Dang. Day.
As if I need to tell you again to take your makeup off every night…but seriously, do it. For the sake of your skin and your lashes, REMOVE! THAT! MAKEUP! (Oprah voice!) Remember, lashes are made of hair. Imagine if you used hairspray and dry shampoo without ever shampooing. Bad, right? Let your lashes breathe. Also, gunked on, old mascara is just plain dirty. If it finds its way into the follicle at the base of the lash, that’s basically a one-way ticket to stye town.
Eyelash tip #3: Clean with care.
Convinced? Good. Now that you’ve agreed a daily lash cleanse is in order, you’ve got to pick your weapon of choice. My favorite way to remove mascara is with the same oil cleanser or balm I use on the rest of my face to remove makeup and dirt. I find that the oil-breaks-down-oil rule definitely applies here, and leaves my lashes clean without irritating my eyes and skin.
If you’re dealing with particularly stubborn mascara or fragile lashes, you may want to consider a cream cleanser instead. Cream cleansers are super gentle on lashes (while still getting them clean) because they ensure that you’re not tugging on them to remove mascara. With oil cleansers and balms, the motion of rubbing the product into your face and circle your eyes with it is what removes the makeup, meaning you’re passing your fingers over your lashes at least 4-5 times, in addition to your follow-up second cleanse. With cream cleanser, a splash of water and 1-2 passes does the trick as long as you follow it up with a damp cotton ball to remove everything. Of course, there are also dedicated eye makeup removing products if you’ve got the space on your bathroom shelf!
As long as you’re taking that mascara off each night and not losing lashes, I say, to each her own! Find your cleanser bliss.
Eyelash tip #4: Condition those lashes.
Ok so you’re using the right amount of the right mascara. You’re gently removing that mascara every night with the right product. It stops there, right? Nope. To really treat your lashes like they matter, consider conditioning them a bit in the same way you diligently apply mists and serums and oils and moisturizers to your skin before bed every night. Remember: eyelashes are hair and hair needs to be conditioned to be healthy and long and strong. Also like hair, you want to concentrate whatever you’re conditioning with toward the end lest your scalp/eyelids get greasy and overwhelmed.
Two really easy (and basically free because I guarantee you already own ‘em) ways to care for your eyelashes post-cleanse are good old coconut oil or lanolin. Massaging a tiny amount of either into the tips of your lashes before bed will have you waking up looking like a Disney princess.