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Coping With Thinning Eyelashes

By: Jennie Kermode - Updated: 21 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Eyelashes Lashes Thinning Mascara

While most discussions of hair loss focus on head hair, there are other places where it can be a problem, too. One of the most noticeable of these is the eyelashes. Not only can thinning eyelashes make you look odd, they also reduce the protection your eyes receive against dust and the elements. How common is eyelash loss, what causes it, and what can you do about it?

Causes of Eyelash Thinning

Most people find that their eyelashes get a little thinner as they age. Usually this is not very severe and doesn't cause much of a problem, but a few people are genetically predisposed to lose more of their eyelashes as they get older. Stress can also contribute to the process, as can Hormonal Changes associated with pregnancy and the menopause, though in these cases the effects are often temporary.

Occasionally eyelash loss can be symptomatic of other conditions. The most common of these are thyroid problems, so if you find that your eyelashes are thinning and you are also feeling fatigued, putting on weight or experiencing muscle cramps, it's a good idea to speak to your doctor (most thyroid problems can be easily treated). Autoimmune conditions and allergies can also be a factor in eyelash loss, as can dietary deficiencies.

Sometimes eyelash loss can occur in relation to other hair loss disorders such as alopecia. It is important that you don't use products designed to treat head hair loss around your eyes. Always consult an eye specialist for medical help in this area.

Eyelash Thinning and Mascara

In some cases, eyelash thinning can be caused by the use of mascara. There are two mechanisms for this. Sometimes the additional weight of eyelashes with heavy mascara can be too much for fragile follicles. In other cases allergies are the problem. If your eyelashes start to get thinner shortly after you've started using a new brand of mascara, stop for a while – ideally going without mascara altogether – to see if they recover.

Despite these problems, mascara can also provide a good way to conceal and to treat eyelash thinning. It can bulk up lashes without being obvious to the casual observer, and it's available in a range of shades so you can match it to your lashes for a natural look.

A moisturising mascara with conditioner can help to nourish your eyelashes directly, so that they get the nutrients they need even if your diet is poor. This is also a good option for people with metabolic illnesses that affect the way the body distributes resources.

If you suffer from eyelash loss, it is best to remove mascara by wiping gently with warm water or olive oil. Never rub back and forth across the eye, and never scrape or crumble the mascara off with your fingernails.

False Eyelashes

An alternative way to conceal eyelash loss is to wear false lashes. This doesn't mean you need to opt for the huge glamorous lashes you may see in fashion boutiques – there are many more discreet versions out there.

False eyelashes are available either as individual lashes or as strips which you can glue along the length of your eyelid. The former look more natural but can be very time consuming to apply, so most people opt for the latter. Bulk buying is by far the cheapest option, but try them first to see if they work for you. Some find them uncomfortable and others are sensitive to the glue they require.

Whatever type of false eyelashes you choose, it's best only to wear them part of the time, so that the delicate skin around your eyes has the chance to breathe and recover at other times. Some people choose to wear upper lashes only and define the lower lid with a subtle streak of eye-liner, giving the impression of full natural lashes at a casual glance.

Eyelash Nourishing Products

Besides mascara, there are several different eyelash nourishing products on the market. These have varying levels of efficacy and you may need to experiment before – if you are lucky – finding one that works for you. Some people find that slices of fresh cucumber or raw potato can provide sufficient nutrition for lashes at next to no cost. Aside from these options, however, you shouldn't use any product that has not been dermatologically tested.

Eyelash loss may sound like a minor thing to those who haven't experienced it, but it can be distressing to live with. Fortunately most people find that by using the techniques described here they can restore the old appearance of their lashes and the confidence that goes with it.

Hair Loss and Women

Find out why some women experience hair loss, and what steps can be taken to prevent the condition or reduce its severity in our article Causes of Hair Loss In Women.

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