Kaia Gerber
Photo: Getty

The average person has 100-to-160 upper lashes and approximately 50-to-75 lower lashes, eyelash expert Edyta Kurowska, tells us. “Eyelashes follow a natural growth cycle, and fall out at a regular rate.”

“It’s natural to lose a few lashes per day,” Kurowska says, and if you are healthy and your lashes shed naturally, they usually grow back without any special treatment. “However, if you notice that you are losing your lashes excessively, you may need to address your nutrition and change your cosmetics habits now,” she adds.

If you want to promote your lash growth and condition, it pays to keep nourished inside-and-out. “It does really help to take supplements, use conditioner and be gentle with your eyelashes just like you would with your hair,” she adds. And know that prevention is better than cure when it comes to getting the flutter of your dreams.

Here the pro explains why you may be losing lashes, and how to encourage them to grow longer and stronger.

Things that can contribute to lash loss:

Rubbing your eyes

Kurowska believes that rubbing our eyes may double the amount of lash loss a person experiences. “Each time you rub your eyes you will pull some lashes out which can lead to permanent follicle damage,” she says, explaining that if a lash is plucked out from its follicle enough times it often results in no further lash growth.

Your choice of cosmetics

Eye make-up, and in turn eye make-up remover, “plays a huge role in lash growth,” says Kurowska. “If your make-up doesn’t come off easily, you risk reducing the number of your lashes permanently” given the action of aggressive removal. Her advice is to avoid thick, heavy eye make-up–including waterproof mascaras and eyeliners–that involve heavy manual cleansing to remove. “Not only might you cause follicle damage, but it means you will rely on harsher chemical cleansers which can cause irritation to the delicate eye area, encouraging you to rub your eyes.”

In her experience, the lighter the mascara formula, the better. “To me, the best mascaras are those that come off just with warm water and a cleansing cloth.” Look for a water-based formula, “my recommendation is Clinique High Impact Mascara.”

For removal, she swears by the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Make-up Removing Micelle Solution, which “is gentle and removes make-up easily without causing any harm to your lashes or your skin.” Another gentle option is the La Roche-Posay Respectissime Waterproof Eye Make-Up Remover, which is created specifically for sensitive eyes.

The use of eyelash curlers

Kurowska is not a fan of eyelash curlers. “I have seen so many clients who have permanent gaps on their lash line caused by using curlers, and often their eyelashes are trimmed to one millimetre long due to padding coming off and cutting their lashes very short.” Yikes. She says there are some acceptable quality lash curlers on the market, “but if you aren’t using professional ones, don’t bother.” And if be very careful not to apply too much force when using them to avoid causing damage to your lashes.

Lash extensions applied wrongly

Lash extensions shouldn’t cause damage to your natural lashes, Kurowska says, and in fact they can be the saving grace to recover your natural lash growth. “Many of my clients use extensions to avoid loosing their lashes,” whereby negating the need for mascara application and removal. “I can comfortably say you can save yourself up to three or four lashes per eye a day with extensions, and if they are one millimetre longer than your natural lashes at 0.10 millimetre long and slightly curlier, they will not cause damage to your lashes beneath.”

However, when applied incorrectly, they can cause damage. “Your natural lashes simply will not be able to take the weight of extensions that are very long and thick, or applied in clusters.” If a technician (likely an amateur one), left you with these kinds of extensions, Kurowska advises seeking professional help to have them removed.

Trying to remove eyelash extensions yourself

As above, “eyelash extensions don’t need to be removed if they aren’t too heavy or applied in clumps,” she says, but if you need correctional work and can’t get to see a professional, you might just have to wait it out. “Under no circumstances should you try pulling them out. Extensions are attached to an individual natural eyelash, so pulling the extension can cause permanent damage to your follicle,” Kurowska continues. Her key advice is to respect the natural lash growth cycle. “It will take a couple of weeks, but I can guarantee that each lash extensions will grow out with your natural lash at its own speed.”

Removal of strip lashes

Similarly, if you use strip lashes (which she recommends for occasion-wear, not daily use), your natural lashes can come out with them during removal if done incorrectly. To avoid this: “Soak a cotton pad in some oil-based make-up remover or baby oil,” she advises. “Hold the cotton pad over closed eyes for 20 second to loosen the glue, and sweep away.”

Promoting lash growth:

What supp?

“Good nutrition plays a very important role in your lash health,” Kurowska confirms. “Foods rich in protein, biotin (vitamin B7, present in nuts and kale), fruits and vegetables containing vitamin A and C (think avocado and berries) and niacin (in green peas and fish) are all important.”

Supplementing with biotin, in particular, can be beneficial for hair growth – lashes included. “I am a huge fan of Superior Hair supplements, which contain nutrients to prevent hair loss and also encourages new hair growth. “The biotin will stop lashes from becoming brittle and will delay shedding, and the vitamin C will support the collagen and help repair follicle damage,” Kurowska explains.

“I also love Solgar Skin, Nails & Hair Formula Tablets, which are very affordable and brilliant quality.” Like the Superior Hair supplements these contain zinc which plays an important role in hair tissue growth and repair.

Lash serums vs conditioners

While lash growth serums are a tempting avenue to go down, Kurowska says to approach use with caution. Reports have shown that some can have very serious side effects, “such as darkening the skin around the eyes, changing the eye colour and causing blurred vision as well as less permanent ones as such as causing swelling and irritation”.

As an eyelash expert, Kurowska tried one of the most popular one on the market for research and says that “after five days of use I started developing dark skin on my lower eyelid. It was not a good look”. Instead, she favours the use of a lash conditioner and natural oil to encourage growth.

“My favourite conditioner is Talika Lipocils Expert, which I use in the day.” The brand claims that in 28 days it can improve lash length by 36 per cent; curl by 50 per cent and colour definition by 50 per cent.

“At night I apply castor oil, which is much heavier, so unsuitable for daytime use.” Rich in vitamin E and Omega fatty acids, castor oil nourishes the hair follicles and fortifies lash and brow growth. Try the Briogeo B. Well Castor Oil, applied with a cotton bud along the top of the lashes.

“If you follow this routine, you will notice significant difference after three weeks,” Kurowska says.

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR UK.

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