Understanding Eyelash Regrowth: Do Eyelashes Grow Back?
Eyelash loss can be devastating. It can make your eyes seem invisible, rob you of your sense of femininity, and lead to issues like dry eyes or irritation if it’s particularly severe. This leads to a pretty important question - do eyelashes grow back?
In this post, we’ll explain how normal lash growth works and the various factors that can affect it. Based on that, we’ll help you determine if your lashes can grow back, how long it can take, and how to speed the process along.
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How Eyelashes Grow Normally?
Our eyelashes are more than just an aesthetic feature. They play an important role in protecting the eyes. By trapping debris, dust, and lint, our lashes prevent irritation to the delicate cornea or the lining of the eyes.
Normally, our lashes follow a specific cycle similar to the hair growth cycle on the head. From start to finish, the lash life cycle lasts for between four and ten months, as the lashes transition from active growth to rest to shedding. As part of that cycle, losing up to five lashes per day is perfectly normal.
At any given time, chances are that you have lashes in different phases of the cycle. A lash that falls out naturally at the end of the telogen phase will be replaced by a new lash in the anagen phase soon after. That lash will start out small and thin, but over the course of a month or two, it’ll grow to normal lash size.
Stages of the Lash Growth Cycle
These are the main stages of lash growth:
Anagen is the growth phase. It begins with forming a new lash and continues for around four to 10 weeks until it reaches its maximum length. The longer the growth phase lasts, the longer, thicker, and darker new lashes will be, while the lash line as a whole will look fuller and denser.
Catagen is the transition or degradation phase, when the lash finally stops growing (it may even shrink a little), and the lash bulb detaches from the hair follicle. This is a short phase - it only lasts for around two weeks.
Finally, telogen is the resting phase, when the lash is no longer fully attached to the hair follicle. Under the lash bulb, the hair follicle begins to create a new lash. This is the longest-lasting phase. It ends when the lash sheds, and the cycle begins anew.
Causes of Eyelash Loss
It’s important to clearly understand why you’re losing lashes to know if they’ll grow back and how quickly. There are hundreds of potential reasons why lash loss can occur, but they mostly fall into a few sub-categories:
- Natural lash loss: At the end of the telogen phase, lash loss is natural and necessary - if the old lash doesn’t fall off, the new one can’t grow out. If you’re losing an average of five lashes daily, it’s normal, and there’s no cause for concern.
- Mechanical lash loss: Removing your mascara aggressively or rubbing your eyes can all lead to premature shedding of lashes. It’s also possible to accidentally pull out several lashes from the root, or they can accidentally get trimmed down or burned. Conditions like trichotillomania can lead to compulsive pulling of lashes.
- Health conditions and treatments: Conditions such as hypothyroidism or alopecia areata can lead to significant lash loss, as can treatments like chemotherapy. Temporary eye or skin conditions like blepharitis (eyelid inflammation), styes, conjunctivitis (pink eye), Demodex mite overgrowth, or allergic reactions may also induce some lash loss.
- Nutritional deficiencies: The body’s ability to produce and retain hair, including lashes, can be seriously undermined by nutritional deficiency, especially under-consumption of protein or biotin.
How Long Does It Take for Eyelashes to Grow Back?
How long it will take for eyelashes to grow back largely depends on the reasons behind your lash loss. That said, you can expect your lashes to grow back within one to three months in mild or normal lash loss cases. In more extreme situations, it may take around 9 months for your lash line to fully recover since that’s how long it will take for most of your lashes to go through a full life cycle.
The fastest regrowth will come from a single lash that fell off naturally at the end of its resting phase: A new lash will grow within a few weeks. Then, it will reach its full length at the end of the anagen phase, which may take up to a few months - the longer the anagen phase, the longer the lash will grow.
This gets complicated when other factors, whether internal or external, are at play.
For example, lashes that have been mechanically pulled out through makeup removal or poor lash extension application will definitely grow back. The amount of time will depend on where the lash was in the lash cycle. If it was in the anagen phase, it could take as long as 4 months before the lash will start growing back, whereas if it was in the telogen phase, it might only be a few weeks.
Another complicating factor is whether your lash loss was influenced by something internal or health-related. In that case, the timeline will vary, and it might depend on your overall recovery. You must cure your nutritional deficiency, allow your hormones to settle, or address your allergic reaction before your lashes can regrow effectively. For that, you might need to see a doctor for treatment.
In cases of auto-immune conditions like alopecia areata, there might never be regrowth (although around 50% of people will recover from alopecia within a year).
Factors Affecting Eyelash Growth
While we talked about how long it may take for lashes to grow, in general, other factors impact your growth rate:
- Age: As we age, the body’s renewal processes slow down, so while lash loss shouldn’t increase, you may notice that it takes longer for new lashes to grow back.
- Hormonal changes: The lash growth cycle is partially controlled by hormones. Hormonal fluctuations can happen because of medications, pregnancy, menopause, or even periods of significant stress or lack of sleep. It’s normal to suddenly lose a lot of lashes during a “hormonal storm” and then grow everything back completely within around 6 months.
- Overall health: Our body has an easier time healing and repairing itself when it’s in good health. Any illness can impact your ability to grow lashes and other hair types.
- Cosmetics: Constant use of mascara or other habits that put stress on the lash line may impact your lash growth cycle. Constant stress might cause lash breakage or pulling, leading to lash loss that prevents recovery.
How to Encourage Growth?
You can absolutely improve the amount of time your lashes spend in the anagen phase to help encourage your lashes to grow back. Here are some of the things you should consider doing:
- Treat the underlying issue: Make sure to identify the reason why you’re losing lashes and deal with it, whether that means changing your cosmetic habits or treating a health condition.
- Take a makeup break: Take a break from waterproof mascara since its removal greatly damages the lash line. Try to wear makeup less often, and choose gentle, easy-to-remove products.
- Use eyelash serum: Eyelash serums can help speed lash regrowth by extending the anagen phase and fortifying the follicles. While they’re not cure-alls, they can definitely help make your lashes look fuller, longer, and denser. The most powerful option is Latisse, which is an FDA-approved lash growth drug, but it also comes with a greater risk of side effects compared to peptide-based serums.
- Healthy diet: Eating a balanced diet with enough calories every day is essential - without key nutrients, your body can’t produce new cells, which means your lashes won’t be able to grow. You might also want to speak to your doctor about supplements if you have a specific deficiency.
Limit stress and get enough sleep: Stress and lack of sleep impede the body’s normal functions, including its regenerative abilities and the release of growth hormones. For your lashes to grow back quickly, it’s important to ensure that your body is calm and well-rested.
How to Prevent Future Eyelash Loss?
While you can’t prevent certain health conditions, there are many ways to keep your lashes healthy and prevent lash loss.
- Good makeup removal: When wearing eye makeup, make sure to use a strong oil-based or bi-phase makeup remover. With minimal friction, your makeup remover should break down all makeup, including waterproof mascara.
- Limit friction: Limiting friction against your lash line will help prevent lash loss. That might mean being very careful when curling your lashes (our heated lash curler is a great no-friction option), learning to sleep on your back, or avoiding rubbing your eyes.
- Keep your lashes clean: From bacteria to mites, plenty of pathogens can irritate your lash line or cause infections, leading to lash loss. By rinsing your lashes regularly and washing them when you have extensions on, you can remove those harmful germs and keep your lash line healthy.
- Focus on your health: The importance of eating healthily, sleeping enough, and seeing your doctor regularly (especially if you’re seeing signs of illness) cannot be understated. There are many good reasons to care for your mental and physical health - keeping your lashes growing is just one of them.
So once again, we return to the simple question: Do eyelashes grow back? In most cases, they do! It can take a while, especially if you need to treat an underlying condition, before your lashes can start growing normally. However, with gentle care and a healthy lifestyle, you can expect your lashes to grow back to full glory within a few months.
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