Dermatologist-Reviewed Articles

3 Possible Reasons Your Eyelashes Are Falling Out

woman with eyes closed

There’s an entire beauty empire devoted to maintaining full, fluttery eyelashes. Whether you curl them, use extensions, plump them up with mascara or wear falsies, it can be disconcerting when they start to thin out. Daily circumstances like rubbing tired eyes or the natural loss of lash hairs here and there are normal causes and shouldn’t sound any alarm bells. But if the problem persists and you notice unusual sparseness, examine your beauty routine and overall health to uncover underlying issues.

1. Bad Beauty Habits

Sometimes the cause of eyelash loss is as simple as a flawed beauty routine. Sleeping in eye makeup—particularly heavy mascara—can cause eyelashes to fall out, and it can also lead to a bacterial infection. Conversely, rubbing too hard when you remove your eye makeup can also lead to lash fallout, especially when you vigorously rub off waterproof products. To avoid the problem, use a gentle yet effective eye-makeup remover to cleanse your delicate eye area without the need for harsh scrubbing.

2. Product Problems

Curling eyelashes opens up your eyes even wider, but it can also irritate your lashes, leading to loss—especially if done too long or too often. Limit eyelash curling to no more than 10 to 20 seconds. When you follow your curling with coats of mascara, be sure the product is fresh—mascara should be tossed after six months—to keep bacteria from transferring from the tube to your lashes.

3. Medical Causes

Even if you get an A for your beauty efforts, certain medical conditions out of your control can lead to lash shedding. Common reasons include both an overactive and underactive thyroid gland, as well as other hormonal changes. Additionally, alopecia areata—an immune disorder in which cells attack the hair follicles—causes lashes to fall out. This condition can affect eyelashes, brows, the scalp and other places where hair grows. If you suspect an underlying medical cause—see your doctor—since some may require advanced care.

Proactive Changes

Combat the problem of lashes falling out—or prevent the situation in the first place—by making some lifestyle and beauty changes. Stock your diet with protein-rich foods, as well as those containing essential fatty acids; think almonds, cashews, soybeans and salmon. Also, pick up a lash-fortifying product that you can apply directly to the area, and switch your regular mascara to one that has both color and conditioning properties for double-duty beauty.

This article has been reviewed by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Emmy Graber.

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