How to grow longer and thicker eyelashes, according to an expert

How to grow longer and thicker eyelashes, according to an expert

What would spring to mind if I started talking about volume boosters, conditioners, curl enhancers and growth serums? If you said “hair products” you’d be right – except it wouldn’t be the hair on your head. The beauty world is currently quite obsessed with our eyelashes, and it’s offering up a plethora of options to maximise their natural beauty.

And since full, fluttery, blessed-by-genetics lashes are about as near a universal beauty goal as you’re likely to find, there are plenty of burning questions to ask about achieving the Bambi look. Do lash serums actually work or are they a pricey waste of money? Can the type of mascara you use make or (literally) break your eyelashes? And what might be holding you back from your full lash potential? Here are the expert answers, plus our pick of the best lash serums and best eyelash treatments available.

My lashes aren’t looking their best right now. Why?

Our skin and hair lose their lustre over time, and eyelashes aren’t immune to the ageing process either. “Eyelashes get shorter and thinner, as well as lighter, as we age,” says consultant ophthalmic and oculoplastic surgeon Dr Elizabeth Hawkes.

It’s normal to shed 4-10 lashes a day, but you can lose extra to poor beauty habits, like overzealous eye rubbing and ripping off falsies (tsk). The number of lashes we have is actually surprisingly small, at around just 150-200 atop each eye, so losing more than usual can add up to a visibly thinner look. “I would warn against wearing false eyelashes every day,” says Dr Hawkes. “Prolonged wear can damage the eyelashes and cause eye infections. Save them for special occasions.”

Can mascara nourish my lashes?

If you’re wearing mascara anyway, why not do double duty with one that conditions AND enhances? That’s the thinking behind the rise of lash care mascaras, such as Lancôme Le 8 Hypnôse Mascara, £32 here, L’Oréal Paris Volume Million Lashes Balm Noir Mascara, £10.99 here, and Studio 10 6 in 1 Perfect Lash Mascara, £25 here, enriched with oils and strengtheners to add lushness to lashes.

I’ll be honest, I pick mascaras for their instant va-va-voom over anything else and I’m yet to find one, caring or otherwise, that gives me the lift of Benefit’s Bad Gal Bang or Maybelline’s Sky High. But if you’re happy with the look of most mascaras and feel your lashes need some TLC, it’s a trend worth trying.

Does waterproof mascara wreck lashes?

Good news: your smudge-proof staple won’t trash your lashes. Bad news: the way you use it can. “Waterproof mascara itself isn’t bad, it’s the fact it’s difficult to remove,” says Dr Hawkes. “That increases chances of being rough with the eyelids, and causing broken lashes.”

To avoid it, she recommends soaking a reusable fabric pad in makeup remover and holding it onto the closed eye for a few seconds. “This allows the formula to gently break up the mascara so when you wipe the pad away, it takes the mascara with it and doesn’t pull off any eyelashes.”

Do lash growth serums work?

In a word, yes. I’ve tried them, my colleagues have tried them, our reader testers have tried them, and we all agree: as long as you’re willing to use them daily (or better still, twice daily) you’re likely to see results. If you don’t, you won’t.

I’ve been using RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner, £89 here, and after eight weeks I had people astonished that these “up to my eyebrows” lashes aren’t the work of extensions. It’s pricey but wowzers, it’s good. If that’s beyond your budget, there are now lots of cheaper alternatives that our own testers have sworn by. Click here for our full run-down on what works the best.

What if you need to fake it?

If you want a set of instantly amazing lashes that last for weeks on end, keep an eye out for Gel-Lys. It’s a treatment pioneered by A-list lash guru Camilla Kirk-Reynolds, which uses a gel-based glue and an LED lamp to bond individual falsies to your own lashes.

The results last 4-7 weeks without needing infills, so it’s a godsend for continuity on film sets. Many clients remain under wraps, but Camilla is allowed to reveal she used it on Gemma Chan and Angelina Jolie in The Eternals. Oh and do keep an eye on your telly. “Currently one of my clients is on Strictly Come Dancing wearing top and bottom Gel-Lys lashes. I can’t say who, but I'm sure you'll be able to tell!” she says.

I’ve been fortunate enough to try Gel-Lys myself – see my incredible results here. A treatment with Camilla herself comes at the suitably A-list price of £490 (!) but the technique is slowly filtering in as more therapists train up. I can’t wait until Gel-Lys is as widespread as a gel mani.


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