When it comes to eyelashes, what’s one of the most asked questions on Internet search engines?
Are lashes the same type of hair as the hair on your head?
Because we’re into the 21st Century, you’d think there’s a straightforward answer. Truth is, not a lot of research has been done comparing lashes with other facial hair or scalp hair.
It seems logical that hair is hair is hair, right?
A Little Clarity and a Few Surprises
It came in a 2018 article in the Journal of Optometry (Volume 11, Issue 4), entitled
Authors Sarah Aumond and Etty Bitton weighed the similarities and differences between lashes and other human hair. Their goal was to improve the efficiency of professionals’ intervention in anomalies of the eyelashes.
Their findings might amaze you.
Question: What’s the primary role of your lashes?
Answer: To protect and maintain the health of the lid margin (located at the edge of the eyelid).
OK, you could have sensed this answer; but most of us would have thought lashes were there to protect the entire lid or the eye itself (to catch stuff before it gets in your eye). Well, the eye-catching stuff is part of what the lashes do. But get this... there is an optimal lash length for protecting the eye from particles.
Here’s another tidbit. Eyelashes, like hair, are sensitive to their external environment, sensitive to certain medications, and sensitive to cosmetics.
Since eyelashes form a barrier between the external and internal environment of the eye, they are extremely sensitive to a variety of threats and irritants. Bottom line: take care of your lashes… they’re more than just objects of beauty!
Question: How many lashes do we have?
Answer: The lower lid has 75-80 (in three or four rows, who knew?). The upper lid has 90-160 in five or six rows.
While lashes and hair have similar characteristics, the lash follicle is distinctively different from other hair follicles. For example, the skin surrounding hair follicles contains three layers (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis). The skin of eyelids is just two layers (epidermis and dermis). More study is needed to understand the implications, but the obvious fact is that lash hair is shorter than scalp hair, obviously!
Question: What about ethnicity? Are lashes different among ethnic groups?
Answer: yes and no. All lashes are curled, regardless of ethnicity. The amount of curl differs among individuals. What scientists call “lift-up” and "curl-up” angles are more pronounced among Caucasians as compared with Asians.
While hair turns gray and then white, lashes rarely turn white and only get “grayish” at a very advanced age, no matter the ethnicity.
Speaking of getting older, lashes reduce in length, thickness, and pigmentation with age. Women know this, but now studies confirm these facts.
How do some cosmetic treatments affect lashes? According to Aumond and Bitton, a review of the literature shows the glue used to anchor synthetic lashes has been linked to problems like keratoconjunctivitis (inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva). Chemicals used to remove the glue can also cause eye inflammation. Vapors associated with application or dissolving of glue “have been reported as ocular irritants.”
Lash tinting can “provoke” an allergic reaction and contact dermatitis.
As for mascara, frequent use may lead to some cracking in lash cuticles. Long-term mascara use can lead to milphosis – a loss of eyelashes (and brows, too). As a warning: women, “need to be educated about the application, removal, shelf life and associated precautions” with some mascara.
What’s in the Products You’re Using?
Lash extensions, glues, chemical removers, mascaras - anything you use around your eyes - should be judged on how well they work AND ingredient safety.
RevitaLash Cosmetics products are either physician developed or physician led, meaning you can trust their safety. They are cruelty-free, Vegan friendly, and made without phthalates, parabens, or fragrance. They are ophthalmologist and dermatologist reviewed, and hypoallergenic.
Simply put: RevitaLash Cosmetics is the Gold Standard for lash and brow cosmetics.
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A quick walk down the aisle at your local health food store reveals any number of products meant to help boost hydration, reduce wrinkles, strengthen hair, add glow… yada, yada, yada. But does oral supplementation actually help? Depends upon your definition of 'help'.