6 ways to fortify your eyelashes

Why you should treat them like the hair on top of your head

Eyelashes are more functional than you may realize: They form a protective perimeter around the eyes, keeping debris from entering. They’re also hypersensitive; when touched, they act as a trigger for the eyes to quickly and defensively close.

For these reasons, it’s imperative to keep them healthy, and to be aware of anything that can compromise their function and regrowth. Eyelashes continually fall out and replenish themselves naturally, just like all body hair, but the growth cycle slows as you get older. Especially if you wear eye makeup, it's important to follow this lash maintenance advice from Dr. Shani Francis, dermatologist and director of Northshore University HealthSystem.

Shampoo Your Lashes

Frequent eye makeup use necessitates regular cleaning. For this, Francis recommends gently rubbing tearless baby shampooonto closed eyes with finger tips

Then, Condition Them

Francis suggestsconditioning lashes with a nighttime eyelash treatment to help them retain moisture and last longer before falling out naturally. You can also use emollients like castor oil, coconut oil, and petroleum jelly. “Fragrance-free petroleum jelly is chemical-free and inert,” she says. “It is the best hypoallergenic product for the eyelid area.”

Eat Up

Iron (found in dark leafy greens and beans) and B vitamins like biotin (found in eggs and sweet potatoes) can fortify your existing lashes or stimulate healthy growth, says Francis.

Always Remove Products

Heavy mascara can weaken the lashes, particularly when it is left on for an extended period. Think of it like foundation on your face; if you don’t wash it away, the pores can't breathe. Similarly, mascara can block the follicles, causing the lashes to fall out. The best eye makeup remover, Francis says, is good old petroleum jelly which will even take off waterproof products.

Buy New Mascara Monthly

Old mascara is often dry when applied, which weighs down the hair, thus choking the follicles. A good rule of thumb is to replace it every month.

Lengthen Lashes Wisely

Eyelash curlers can cause trauma to your delicate lashes so apply minimal pressure when using them. It's also smart to skip extensions altogether, notes Francis, especially if they're glued on or are heavy, since they can pluck the lashes when removed.