Maybe you’re someone who grooms your eyelashes and eyebrows daily. You enhance and tweeze them to your liking. Or, perhaps, you don’t give your lashes and brows much thought. You might apply mascara occasionally, but you prefer a more natural look.
Either way, you could be engaging in habits that produce thinner lashes and brows over time. See, eyelashes and brows contain hairs with growth cycles. Science says the growth sequence consists of four phases: growth, transition, resting, and shedding.
Unfortunately, certain behaviors may disrupt these stages, causing more lash and brow hairs to fall out. Let’s look at six ways you may be unintentionally contributing to this loss.
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The Science Behind Hair Growth Patterns
Eyebrows and eyelashes are prominent features of your face, and when they become thinner, it can be distressing for many people. The edges of your brows aren’t as full as before. Plus, it seems as though you don’t have as many eyelashes as you did a few months ago.
A variety of medical conditions can affect hair growth patterns, including conditions like alopecia areata, polycystic ovary syndrome, a variety of medications, and hormonal conditions—including pregnancy and menopause. Up to 50% of women who are 50 and older experience thinning hair, most often noticeable on the scalp but also affecting the lashes and brows.
However, all body hair goes through growth patterns. These cycles explain why strands seem to always be there or show up thinner than before. The anagen phase is when the hair follicles grow, while the catagen phase is where they transition. At this stage, your hair isn’t growing but rather preparing for the next step. The final phase is telogen, when the strands fall out and new ones replace them.
Different hairs go through these growth phases at various paces. Eyelashes take between five and 12 months to complete the growth cycle. Your eyebrows also go through a shorter cycle than the hairs on your head. Your brows spend four weeks in the anagen phase and stay in the telogen stage for up to three months. About 90% of your brow hairs are resting while only 10% are growing. This makes it harder to grow them back after loss.
What Bad Habits Are Ruining Your Lashes?
No one wants their eyelashes to disappear. Yet, some of the things we do to make our lashes more attractive might also be causing their demise. While it’s not necessarily wrong to use cosmetic enhancements, you want to be cautious about specific habits and products.
Take mascara, for example. Now, you might be thinking, why is mascara bad for my lashes? Doesn’t it make them look thicker and longer? Yes, a good mascara can do this. But using waterproof mascara every day can wreak havoc.
If you’ve ever tried to remove waterproof mascara, you know it’s not easy. You have to use harsher products and intensely scrub. Doing so can weaken your lashes, making more hairs fall out before they are supposed to. . Constantly wearing waterproof mascara might also make your lash hairs more brittle, which can lead to breakage and loss.
Falling asleep with your eye makeup on can also be rough on your lashes . When you go to bed with cosmetics on your skin and lashes, it can cause irritation. As a result, you may rub your eyes more. Repetitive motions may pull lash hairs out of the follicles before they are ready to naturally shed. In addition, borrowing others’ makeup may irritate your skin and spread infections such as pink eye.
Getting eyelash extensions is another habit you may want to reconsider, as they can affect your natural eyelash growth. Lash extensions are a popular beauty trend, but if they’re too heavy or applied incorrectly, or if you are allergic to or irritated by the adhesive, they can cause your lashes to shed prematurely. They can also lead to eyelid irritation and itching, and additional rubbing can cause lash loss.
What Bad Habits Are Wrecking Your Brows?
Grooming your brows can be confusing. One day, the thick, bushy look is in. Next, it’s more on trend to sport a thin and contoured appearance. It’s no wonder people fall into terrible habits that are hard to break.
Using your tweezers too much is one of them. If you have naturally thick hair, you might also have bushy eyebrows. Taming them may be at the top of your list. But it’s not a good idea to pull out the tweezers every chance you get.
Each time you pull out a hair, the follicle gets irritated. Repeated injury to the follicle may cause hair growth to stop. If you over-pluck, you might notice parts of your brows aren’t growing back. Injured hair follicles may not produce new hairs for up to four years—and sometimes never regrow hair.
Stress can be another factor contributing to hair loss. Stress can disrupt hair growth cycles when you don’t get enough sleep, eat poorly, or avoid addressing conditions like anxiety. Your hair follicles go into the resting phase for longer periods, preventing new growth from happening.
Some individuals struggling with anxiety can develop a habit of pulling on their brows and lashes. This condition is called trichotillomania, sometimes called trich. This is most common in teens and young adults, but causes aren’t completely known.
Other harmful habits include visiting the salon too often to get your brows waxed or threaded. Like overplucking, these procedures can inflame hair follicles. An occasional wax is okay, but too much aggravation can stop brow hairs from returning.
What Can You Do To Strengthen Brows and Lashes?
The best thing you can do for your brows and lashes is to leave them alone. Yes, this means going makeup-free and hiding the tweezers. Nonetheless, avoiding grooming altogether isn’t practical.
What you can do is practice good hygiene habits, such as consistently avoiding harsh cosmetics and removing makeup before bed. You could also use growth serums with bimatoprost periodically if your hairs are too thin. The FDA has approved Latisse, and the serum has been proven to improve eyelash growth. While it’s not yet approved for eyebrows, some studies show bimatoprost can be effective for brows as well.
If you’re under stress or think you have anxiety, don’t ignore it. Speak to a healthcare professional to get help. Often, mental health conditions cause treatable physical symptoms.
Growing Healthy Hair
Hair loss can be embarrassing, lowering your self-esteem. But in many cases, thinning lashes and brows are reversible. If changing your habits doesn’t work, it may be time to schedule a consultation with a medical professional. They’ll screen you for conditions that cause hair loss. With treatment, you can restore your hair growth and confidence.