There’s a reason that mascara takes up a bajillion threads on beauty message boards: People want to know how to get longer eyelashes.
The thickness and length of your lashes totally vary. Most of us have 90 to 160 upper lashes placed in 5 to 6 rows on our upper eyelid.
Although the anatomy of the hair is different, if the locks on your head are sparse, your eyelashes probably will be too, according to Soul Lee, an eyebrow and eyelash extension specialist at Beautiful Soul Studio in New York City.
Trying to lengthen what you’ve got in the eyelash department? Here’s everything you need to know about how to make eyelashes grow and how to make your eyelashes look longer.
Make sure to patch test!
Before you put anything near your eyes, repeat after us: PATCH TEST EVERYTHING. Allergic contact dermatitis is no fun, especially near your eyes.
Latisse (aka bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) is the only eyelash growth product approved by the FDA that helps grow, thicken, and darken your lashes.
When applied every day to the upper eyelid lash line, you usually get results in about 2 months. But, once you start using Latisse, you can’t stop or your eyelashes will go back to normal.
“It really is the only thing that works,” says Lee (research backs her up, too.)
Before getting started, you’ll need a prescription for the Latisse. Most individuals who are able to prescribe medication are able to prescribe Latisse. They’ll also be able to rule out any reasons why you shouldn’t use it.
There are side effects to consider:
- red, itchy, and dry eyes
- darkening of the brown pigment of the iris (especially for blue- and grey-eyed folks)
- darkening of eyelids
- unwanted hair grown around the eyes (if applied incorrectly)
It’s also vital to keep it out of your eyes!
Your lashes can get damaged from wear-and-tear just like the hair on your head. Eyelashes can also just go AWOL and fall out.
“It can take 3 months to a year for lashes to grow back,” says Lee. And that’s assuming the follicle’s not dead and the eyelash has just fallen out. Worst case scenario: The eyelash hair follicle dies and the lash won’t grow back (RIP lush lashes).
Here are some home treatments you can try to help make your eyelashes look longer and thicker.
No-poo fans swear by coconut oil to moisturize their dry locks. That’s because research shows a fatty acid in coconut oil can penetrate strands of your hair.
In theory coconut oil can condition eyelashes like it does hair, but Lee says coconut oil still won’t make your lashes grow.
You can use a clean spoolie to apply coconut oil to lashes at night, and wash if off in the morning. This might protect your lashes from damage and condition them, allowing them to look fuller.
Castor oil — a type of vegetable oil — won’t make eyelashes grow, says Lee. There isn’t enough concrete research to prove it can grow eyelashes either. Some studies have shown the chemical compounds in castor oil might reverse or prevent hair loss, but more research is needed.
You can still use it at night with a spoolie and wash it off in the a.m. if you want to help condition your lashes.
There’s no research proving that olive oil makes your eyelashes grow, but you can use it as a cheap eyelash conditioner just like castor oil to help your eye fringe look healthier. It’s also great in a salad dressing.
OTC lash serum
According to Lee, there are some over-the-counter (OTC) lash serums that can make lashes appear fuller and longer, but it’s just not the same as Latisse (i.e. actually makes lashes grow longer).
Some OTC lash serums also have the active ingredient isopropyl cloprostenate, which is similar to what works in Latisse. But, the trade off is it isn’t as potent, reliable in results, or regulated by the FDA (which has prompted lawsuits for its potential side effects).
Biotin is called vitamin H or B7. It’s found in foods like spinach and eggs, and can also be taken as a supplement. Hey, vitamins are nice. But, there’s limited research proving that a biotin supplement actually helps grow your eyelashes (or your hair).
And biotin can interact with some meds, so check with your healthcare provider before trying.
Vaseline (aka petroleum jelly) is an occlusive moisturizer. It’s your BFF for chapped lips and dry hands/knees/elbows/feet.
Vaseline can make your lashes look moisturized and shinier, but that’s all. There’s no research proving petroleum jelly makes your lashes grow. If you still want to give it a go to help moisturize your lashes, you can apply a rice size amount at night with a cotton swab.
Aloe vera is another moisturizer we know and love. But alas, there’s no research backing up the claim it makes your lashes grow longer. Like other remedies, you can apply it at night and it may help moisturize your lashes, but that’s really it. Some good news? Aloe is soothing on a sunburn 🔥.
Home eyelash remedies that don’t work
The internet has plenty of remedies, but some of them can actually be dangerous. Avoid these remedies like the plague:
❌ Lemon peels or lemon juice. First off, do you really want to put an undiluted acidic substance close to your eye? (No! No, you do not!). There’s no research proving it makes eyelashes grow longer.
❌ Vitamin E oil. While vitamin E can condition your lashes, sadly, there’s zilch in the way of research proving it makes lashes lengthen. In fact, an allergy to vitamin E near your eyes could be very bad! Stick to castor oil (which naturally has vitamin E) if you want to use an oil to condition your lashes.
- Remove eye makeup before bed. According to Lee, mascara clogs the follicle overtime and can weaken it. She recommends wearing a regular mascara and taking off eye makeup with micellar cleansing water. If you must use a sturdier, waterproof mascara, Lee advises using an oil-based makeup remover. Gently pat remover over your lashes and eyes; don’t rub vigorously.
- Don’t trim or pluck your lashes yourself. It’s totally a myth that if you trim your lashes they will grow back longer, says Lee. Also, keep scissors away from your eyes, pretty please! If you need an eyelash removed, visit a specialist for help or your healthcare provider if you have inflammation or pain.
- Brush out those lashes. This can help keep things tamed and tidy, potentially avoiding unwanted breakage. Lee suggests brushing your lashes before bedtime with a spoolie if you want to groom them.
- Curl your lashes carefully. Work the eyelash curler like a hair curler (wrap and let go), as opposed to a hair iron (flatten and pull).
- Don’t yank off your falsies. Be slow and methodical about removing false eyelashes and remove them gently with micellar water or makeup remover. If you have semi-permanent eyelash extensions, it’s best to trust a professional. Lee notes, the glue for extensions is much stronger than the glue you’d use for falsies.
- Lay off the extensions once in a while. Lee tells clients to take 3 months off per year to give lashes a rest.
- Stick with single lash extensions. “Volume lashes” are when 3 or 4 eyelash extensions are glued over one lash. They might look dramatic, but Lee warns multiple lash extensions “stresses your follicle.”
Give it to me straight: Can you actually grow your eyelashes?
- The way your eyelashes look is most likely genetic or because you already have thin hair.
- Lashes may get damaged over time, so you can condition them with moisturizers like coconut oil or castor oil to help them appear thicker and fuller.
- Latisse is the only FDA-approved product that makes eyelashes grow longer. You’ll need a prescription if you want to try it out.
- The bad news? If a hair follicle is dead, the eyelash won’t grow back.
- OTC lash serums, like the ones you buy at drugstores, can only help lashes appear thicker and fuller, and they’re not necessarily safe.
- Always remove mascara (and all other makeup!) before bed and practice proper eyelash grooming.
- Be gentle when removing false eyelashes and have a professional remove eyelash extensions. Your lashes will thank you!