Ask any woman what her most-prized physical feature is and you’re most likely to get the same answer: her eyes.
The beauty industry is booming with revolutionary mascaras designed to enhance, brighten and beautify the look of our peepers. But for some of us, getting that come-hither look is a bit more challenging.
One often-overlooked condition affecting many women is that of their eyelashes falling out.
Sure, it may not be life-threatening but if you’ve ever experienced a dramatic decline in eyelash abundance – you know how traumatic this can be.
The scientific name for this condition is ciliary madorosis (doesn’t that sounds as awful as it is?); the name comes from the ancient Greek work “madaros” which literally translates to “bald”.
But if you’re currently undergoing the crisis of your eyelashes falling out, you don’t really care about the name of the condition – you just want to know why it’s happening and how to stop it.
And that’s what this entire post is about – here are some common causes of eyelashes falling out, in no particular order, as well as how to treat it!
#1. Cause of Eyelashes Falling Out: Eye Makeup
Want to know a surprisingly common reason for a massive eyelash exodus? Well, at the top of the list is make-up, particularly mascara.
Yes, it sucks when the culprit is something you hold near and dear to your heart, but using mascaras of inferior quality or past their sell-by-date has the ability to irritate and infect the sensitive lash line.
So many of us are guilty of finding a “favorite” tube of mascara and then using it for far longer than we should. A fresh tube of mascara should only be used for three to six months – afterwards, the risk of infections goes up so plan to replace your mascara regularly.
It’s also vitally important to remove all traces of eye make-up before bed, especially heavy or waterproof formulations.
When removing mascara, try to find a non-irritating yet effective makeup remover which does not contain any alcohol or astringents and gently wipe the eyelids without rubbing the eyes. Find out more eyelash growth tips!
Lastly, a loss of lashes could indicate an allergy to something in your mascara, which is not surprising since many mascaras still contain toxic and irritating ingredients.
Check the ingredients in your mascara for things like mercury (yea, this is still not illegal to use in cosmetics in the U.S.), parabens, fragrance, aluminum powder, and triethanolamine (TEA). If you can’t find the ingredients for your mascara, check out the Environmental Working Group’s cosmetic safety database for a list of mascaras, their ingredients, and safety ratings.
Or just check out our list of lash-friendly, conditioning mascaras for a natural mascara that helps rather than hurt lash growth.
How to Treat It: Because so many of us wear eye makeup, this is the most common culprit for eyelashes falling out. The very first step you should take if you’re experiencing eyelash loss is to take a break from your eye makeup.
Yes, it truly sucks to have to go without a lengthening, volumizing mascara (I used to feel naked without it!) but most mascaras have a tendency to stiffen your eyelashes (thanks to ingredients like gum), which contributes toward making your lashes more brittle and breakable.
Taking a break gives your lashes some much-needed time to breathe and can be a simple solution to the problem of eyelashes falling out.
During this hiatus, you can sift through your makeup bag to find and toss out any old mascara tubes as well as to thoroughly check the quality of the eye makeup you’re using by finding out about the ingredients contained in it.
Once you’re ready to start using mascara again – make sure you choose a nourishing, moisturizing mascara (eyelashes are hair, after all), preferably one that’s organic and with all-natural ingredients.
#2. Cause of Eyelashes Falling Out: Inflammation of the Eyelids
When it comes to the delicate eye area, inflammation of the eyelids is also known to cause eyelashes to fall out.
Known as blepharitis, this occurs when demodex mites or bacteria infect the lash line causing either a waxy residue or golden flakes to form between the individual hairs. This build-up leads to the glands of the eyelid becoming clogged, eventually causing the lashes to fall out.
How to Treat It: The bad news is that blepharitis cannot be cured. The good news is that you can take steps to control the symptoms. The most important thing you need to do to treat blepharitis is to practice good eye hygiene on a daily basis.
You can do this by taking the following steps:
- Apply a warm compress (a cloth or cotton wool warmed with hot water) to your closed eyelids for five to ten minutes every day.
- Gently rub the warm compress over your closed eyelids for two to three minutes to loosen any crusting.
- Mix an eyelid-cleaning solution with warm water and dip a clean cloth or cotton pad in this cleansing solution. Gently rub your eyelids to clean them.
The above steps should be done twice a day, even when you don’t have any symptoms. Don’t wear any eye makeup when you have symptoms and if you must wear eye makeup, make sure you’re only using organic, natural products that wash off easily.
#3. Cause of Eyelashes Falling Out: Hormones
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, a major factor behind eyelash loss is a hormonal imbalance. Once a woman enters menopause, among the many changes she will experience is that of her eyelashes falling out.
Another common hormonal factor? The thyroid gland.
A thyroid problem that is left undiagnosed, whether under- or overactive, can cause the lashes to fall out. Usually the first sign of a thyroid disorder is thinning or loss of eyelashes. “Your eyelashes will stop falling out once the thyroid problem is treated,” he says.
How to Treat It: A hormonal imbalance is a tricky thing and if this is the cause for your eyelashes falling out, your first course of action is to consult your doctor for advice on balancing your hormones.
#4. Cause of Eyelashes Falling Out: Stress
If you’ve been experiencing a sudden loss of eyelashes – it’s time to ask yourself: How much stress are you under?
Another cause for eyelashes falling out is as simple – and complicated – as stress. Did you know, for example, that Hollywood actress, Olivia Munn suffers from an anxiety disorder that causes her to pull out her eyelashes?
Known as trichotillomania, this condition is similar to biting one’s nails. This condition has actually been known to affect children as young as just one year old, with this compulsive behavioral habit passed on genetically.
When pulled out, eyelashes can take awhile to grow back especially if they were in the middle of their growth cycle.
Treatment for this condition is largely symptomatic and treated by means of a therapy known as Habit Reversal Training. In the case of Olivia Munn, the solution she’s found has been, strangely enough, makeup. Wearing false eyelashes to mask the look of her sparse lashes, the actress uses powered makeup to ensure that her falsies stay put.
But even if your stress doesn’t cause you to physically pull your lashes out, it can cause your eyelashes to fall out on their own. Eyelashes are hair, after all, and hair loss is also a common effect of stress overload.
How to Treat It: If your eyelashes falling out coincide with a stressful period in your life, the best way to treat your eyelashes is to help yourself deal with and overcome the stress in your life.
Try meditation – it’s free and amazing for your overall health and beauty. Plus, it barely takes any time out of your life. Exercise is another effective stress-busting beauty booster as well.
#5. Cause of Eyelashes Falling Out: Are You on Medication or a New Diet?
Certain medications have also been shown to affect the rate at which we lose eyelashes. Medicine designed to treat psoriasis as well as anti-cholesterol drugs and vitamin A all come with eyelash loss as a side-effect.
And just like the hair on our heads, so too the health of our eyelashes are largely affected by the food that we eat. Go on an extreme or sudden diet and you may just notice sparser eyelashes along with your dwindling waistline. The key lies in eating a healthy, well-balanced diet to ensure strong, healthy eyelashes.
How to Treat It: If you suspect your medication is causing your eyelashes to fall out, ask your doctor if there are other medications that will do the trick without affecting your eyelashes. And as always, remember to eat a healthy diet of foods to keep your lashes healthy!
If you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, all is not lost. There’s a growing number of great eyelash growth serums on the market that can help you grow back your eyelashes in a matter of weeks – and they’ll be even longer and thicker than they were before they fell out!