Unfortunately, hair does not stay attached to its roots forever. Case in point: that shower drain that gets clogged with chunks of strands. While you may be more used to the hair on your head falling out, it can feel particularly annoying when it happens to your lashes. But how long does it take for eyelashes to grow back?
First off, if you're noticing your little lash hairs falling out, don't be alarmed — it's not uncommon for this to happen. "The eyelashes have a similar hair cycle as your scalp, so they grow and shed normally about every six to 10 weeks," says Dr. Caroline Chang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Rhode Island. It's still hair, after all. You actually lose eyelash hair daily, but you probably don't notice it. Dr. Hadley King, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, says you typically shed between one and five lashes a day. That's because the hair is in constant rotation.
The shedding can happen more in winter months, especially if you often deal with skin inflammation. "If you experience weather-related eczema or allergic contact dermatitis [around the eyelids], that leads to rubbing of the eyes, which dislodges the hairs," says King. And, much like your skin, your hair is more prone to dryness this time of year, which can be another cause of increased eyelash hair loss. "This is due to the lack of moisture," says celebrity lash expert and founder of D'Lashes Dionne Phillips.
Although the shedding is normal, a number of causes can affect eyelash hair loss — but you can also turn to plenty of practices to encourage healthy growth. Here, experts explain everything you need to know about lash shedding, including how long it takes for them to grow back.
What Causes Eyelashes To Fall Out?
Besides everyday shedding, factors like your diet, beauty routine, stress levels, and other health concerns can influence your eyelash hair loss. "Lash shedding should be nominal and something you don't even notice, but when you're noticing patchiness in your lashes or the hairs falling out in large clumps, you want to look at other causes," says Joey Healy, an eyebrow specialist and founder of Joey Healy Eyebrow Studio.
One example? "Stress is a huge culprit when it comes to hair loss, whether it's hair on the head, eyebrows, or eyelashes," he says. Chang explains this is called telogen effluvium, which is shedding due to body stressors. This happens because stress releases cortisol, a hormone that disrupts your hair growth cycle. "Emotional stress can also cause a person to pull out their own eyelashes, which is called trichotillomania," she tells Bustle.
Lash shedding can sometimes happen because of something you're doing in your makeup routine. "Aggressive rubbing to remove cosmetics like mascara and eye makeup can contribute to lash loss," says Phillips. Healy notes that this is more common with waterproof mascara, since it's more difficult to remove. "Also sleeping with your mascara can be a culprit, or removing false lashes and extensions incorrectly," he tells Bustle. "Both can lead to lash damage and increased lash fallout." His tip? Remove both with an oil-based makeup remover, and never tug on your lash hairs. Even being too rough with an eyelash curler can cause traction issues and lead to hair loss, says Healy.
Allergies can play a role in eyelash hair loss, too. "Eyelashes can fall out due to inflammation from blepharitis — which is a clogged oil gland at the base of the eyelash — infection, and allergies," says Chang. Healy says you could also have a reaction to your mascara. "If you've tried a new mascara and your eyelashes are falling out, it could be from an allergic reaction," he says.
Good nutrition is another factor in hair health. According to King, if you're not getting enough vital vitamins and nutrients in your diet, it can lead to excessive eyelash shedding as well as hair loss. "Malnourished people do experience eyelash loss," she says. Namely, she points to adequate protein and healthy fats for promoting hair growth. "There are also some studies that support the role of biotin and vitamins B5, B6, and B12 [for healthy hair.]"
On the more serious end of the spectrum, hormones also play a big role in hair loss. "Hair growth is largely determined by our hormones, so large changes within them like pregnancy and menopause can cause eyelashes to fall out," says Healy. Thyroid conditions (like hypothyroidism) affect hair growth as well, notes King, as can alopecia, an autoimmune disease that causes spots of hair loss, she says. If you suspect any of these reasons may be impacting your hair, you may want to see your doctor.
How Long Does It Take For Eyelashes To Grow Back?
Generally, experts estimate that it takes roughly two months for eyelashes to grow back. King says the regrowth process can take up to 16 weeks at the long end, though Phillips notes you can usually see "noticeable lash growth" every three weeks if you're doing everything to keep your hair healthy.
"There are three stages of lash growth: anagen, catagen, and telegen," says Phillips. Anagen is active growth, categen is the transitional period, and telegen is the resting phase, aka when your hair has stopped growing and is ready to shed. "The entire eyelash growth cycle takes about 90 days," she says. And, according to King, a typical eyelash grows between .12 and .14 mm per day.
That said, lash regrowth can be impacted by how the hair was lost. "Lashes that are not pulled out at the root, like if they were singed because of a fire or were cut too short, will grow back in about six weeks," says Healy. "With lashes that are pulled out at the root or that completely fell out, it can be up to two months."
How To Help Eyelashes Grow Back
Experts share their top tips for promoting healthy lash growth, from what you're applying to your hair to what you're putting on your plate:
- Keep the area clean: Chang says it's important to keep the skin around your eyes clean by washing your face and eyelids daily with gentle soap. It also helps to avoid applying heavy moisturizers to the area, as these can clog the glands on the eyelid, she says.
- Fully remove your mascara: Always remove your mascara before bedtime. "Lashes will be more prone to breakage during the night if mascara-coated, stiff hairs are pressed against the pillow," says King. Be sure to take it off gently and without aggressive rubbing or pulling.
- Apply oils to your lashes: Some oils — like castor oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil — can provide conditioning to lash hair that "improves flexibility of the hair fiber," says King. "There are plenty of anecdotal reports about using various oils to help lashes regrow," she adds, but caveats that no scientific evidence supports this. "I do think the emollient properties of these may be helpful if the eyelashes are becoming brittle and broken," she says.
- Incorporate certain nutrients into your diet: According to King, a diet rich in protein, iron, and biotin can help promote healthy hair growth. Fatty acids are also good for your hair, says Phillips, since they're filled with protein.
- Try lash serums: Using a lash serum in your beauty routine can also help promote growth. Healy recommends looking for those with peptides and amino acids, both of which join together "to create proteins, which are the building blocks of eyelashes," he says.
- Reduce stress: For the sake of your lashes, it helps to keep stress levels low. "Try to reduce stress in your life in order to promote healthy [lash] growth," says Healy. Turn to whatever method works for you, from meditation to regular exercise — your hair will thank you.
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Dr. Caroline Chang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in Rhode Island
Dr. Hadley King, M.D., a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist
Joey Healy, an eyebrow specialist and founder of Joey Healy Eyebrow Studio
Dionne Phillips, celebrity lash expert and founder of D'Lashes