The eyes are often described as the window or mirror to the soul, and therefore it’s only right that we wish to draw attention to them, so what better way to do this than with our lashes, which were aptly described by William Shakespeare as ‘the fringed curtains’ in The Tempest.
Whilst long eyelashes may be considered a mark of beauty, the eyelashes are actually a vital part of the anatomy. They are the first line of defense for the delicate eye tissue, helping to protect against dust and debris, and acting in a similar manner to whiskers on a cat, providing a warning that, in this case, something is near to the eye and triggering a reflex action to close the lid and form a barrier against the irritant.
Eyelashes also help to protect the eye from the harsh glare of the sun, and reduce evaporation of the eye fluid. Without lashes we would need to blink at least twice as often to keep the eye lubricated.
Adults have an average of 100-150 upper eyelashes and 50-75 lower lashes per eye. Each lash has a life cycle of six months or more, and lashes pulled out will not automatically regrow as they need to complete the cycle. The first stage is the anagen phase which is the start of the growth period and typically lasts about two weeks. Any of these lashes lost during this time will not grow back immediately.
The second stage is the telogen phase where the lashes rest, before being replaced by a new lash in the anagen phase. Each lash is on a different timetable, so it’s natural to lose lashes daily. The hair of the eyelashes is unique. They are the shortest on the body with the longest lifespan, and do not go grey.
It’s important to take care of our eyelashes since they perform an important function, and an eyelash needs several weeks to grow back after falling out before the natural end to its life cycle. Yet, in the name of beauty we subject our lashes to constant abuse – mascara, harsh glues for extensions and curling tools.
So why not lavish your lashes with some natural TLC. Forget about quick fix solutions, which in the long run actually damage the lashes, and nourish and protect them with natural oils to promote their health and boost growth. Whilst there may be expensive lash serums also available, well hyped as ‘miracle workers’, they are also full of harmful chemicals, and who really wants to put chemicals that close to their eyes?
As always Mother Nature has provided a natural remedy – cold pressed plant oils – to nourish and strengthen the lash follicle and simultaneously promote growth. What’s even better is that oils are natural make-up removers, so if you must wear mascara in the interim period, your nightly lash treatment will gently remove all make-up traces. Plus they’re safer, often more effective than their synthetic counterparts, and much more affordable.
Remember that a little oil goes a long way. And you’re also doing wonders for the delicate skin around the eye, reducing inflammation and helping to nourish and protect the skin.
Whilst most plant-based natural oil will help your lashes to a certain degree, the following five are revered for their beneficial effects on eyelashes:
Caster Oil has a long history of use within the beauty industry from Ancient Egyptian times. At a time when hair symbolized wealth, status and beauty, Caster Oil was used to nourish and strengthen the hair. Today, Caster Oil is touted as one of the best for promoting healthier, thicker, darker and longer lashes. It is rich in antioxidants, omega-6 fatty acids, in particular ricin oleic acid, vitamin E and proteins.
Ricin oleic acid has been shown to stimulate prostaglandin (PGE2), a hormone that triggers hair growth. This wonderful oil can penetrate deep into the skin and follicles to work from the inside out. It will nourish brittle or fine hairs, offer superb rehydration, repair damaged follicles, and strengthen and protect each individual lash, preventing damage or loss.
Furthermore, it increases blood circulation, thus stimulating further growth. Caster Oil also has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, to protect against inflammation and irritation.
Argan Oil, known as ‘liquid gold’ and often referred to as a Mother of all natural oils, has a long history in the world of hair care, dating back millennia. It is packed with fatty acids, vitamin E, carbohydrates, and minerals that are essential for great hair health, including lashes. It has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, to reduce inflammation and irritation, and also offers protection against lash mites.
This oil is a potent moisturizer and will penetrate the cortex to nourish the hair shaft, helping to repair damage from within. It will form a protective layer around each lash, protecting against oxidative stress and UV damage, imparting shine, smoothing the hair and stopping the lashes clumping together. It penetrates deep into the skin, regenerating the follicles, actively strengthening the lashes, promoting elasticity and protecting against brittleness and breakage.
Regular use will accelerate the production of keratin, stimulating lash growth, protecting against loss, and encouraging long, healthy, dark, thick lashes.
Jojoba Oil found its place in the beauty industry back in the 1980’s when it was a core ingredient in most hair care products, and it has retained its importance and popularity ever since. Due to its abundance of fatty acids, vitamin E, carbohydrates, and minerals that are essential for great hair health, it is a superb lash enhancer.
Biologically similar to the skin’s own sebum, it is able to control sebum, so if sparse lashes are a problem due to blocked follicles from overproduction of sebum, Jojoba Oil is a sure-fire winner. It has strong regenerative properties and when used on a regular basis will reward you with thick, long and luscious lashes. Unlike other oils, Jojoba does not penetrate as deeply into the lash but provides an impenetrable barrier, locking in moisture and filling in any cracks in damaged lashes, and protecting against further damage from UV and oxidative stress. It conditions and moisturizes the lashes, repairing cell damage, strengthening the hair shaft and thickening the lashes.
Deeply absorbed into the skin, this oil will also nourish and protect the hair follicle, encouraging and stimulating healthy growth, and preventing lash loss. Jojoba Oil also has antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties to give further protection.
The use of Almond Oil for hair is nothing new, having been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat dry scalp conditions. It contains one of the high levels of natural vitamin E, plus fatty acids, proteins and antioxidants, in addition to magnesium, calcium and biotin which also makes it a wonderful eyelash treatment. It moisturizes, seals and protects, and restores and retains moisture and elasticity.
Almond Oil repairs existing damage, improves hair resilience, smooths the cuticle and diminishes friction, thus preventing damage or rubbing wear and tear so they remain strong. Application of this oil will add an instant shine, and accelerate blood circulation, thus promoting growth. Furthermore magnesium and natural biotin are known to promote and accelerate hair growth.
A rich source of antioxidants to prevent UV and oxidative stress, Almond Oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to calm irritation and inflammation.
Grapeseed Oil is a byproduct of the winemaking industry and its use as a health tonic and a beauty aid goes back millennia. Bursting with goodness for your hair and lashes, it contains linoleic acid, oleic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, palmitoleic acid, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, plus other essential vitamins and minerals.
Ultra lightweight and hydrating, Grapeseed Oil has perfect moisturizing qualities, and works as a natural sealant, keeping moisture within the follicle, preventing brittleness, breakage and loss. It is known for its ability to treat brittle, weak or thinning hair, and strengthen the hair. Best of all, Grapeseed Oil blocks the production of the hormone DHT which causes hair loss, including the lashes.
Additionally this oil will boost blood circulation to stimulate the follicles and increase growth, whilst protecting against UV and oxidant stress.
The best time to apply an eyelash treatment is before bed. Firstly make sure that the lashes are completely devoid of makeup – you can apply some of your chosen oil to a cotton wool swab and gently circulate along the eye area to remove any leftover makeup. Then take a clean mascara wand, lash comb or cotton wool bud (Q-tip), dip it in the oil and apply to the lashes. Wash off with water in the morning.
Take care to avoid getting any oil into the actual eye as, although not harmful, it may sting and could cause some redness or irritation. The day before your first treatment, we would recommend that you make a test patch by applying a small amount of oil to the inside of your arm. Whilst allergies are rare with natural oils, better safe than sorry before applying to the delicate eye area.
Remember that the eyelashes have a long lifespan, so it may be a few months of everyday treatment before you see a noticeable improvement, but with perseverance you will be the recipient of long luscious lashes.