Do Eyelashes Thin With Age?
We need eyelashes to protect our eyes from dust and debris. Unfortunately, as we age, our eyelashes deteriorate and leave us with far less protection from the world.
Why would they do that? Let’s discover why our eyelashes thin and what we can do to compensate.
Why Do Eyelashes Thin With Age?
There are several reasons our eyelashes thin as we age. But what are the most common?
When you were born, you had somewhere between 90 and 150 eyelashes on each eye. How many eyelashes you were born with depended on a number of factors, but mainly genetics.
If your ancestors hail from a particularly cold place, you likely had more eyelashes than your peers from hot climates. By the time you’re an adult, you likely have 150 to 200 lashes on each eye. This varies from person to person based on genetics and lifestyle choices.
If you’re a woman, you may notice a decline in your eyelashes around menopause. In fact, thinning eyelashes may indicate the onset of menopause. Like so many big changes in your body as you age, menopause is the culprit. Menopause causes tremendous hormonal shifts in your body.
Menopause is likely to cause thinning hair from head to toe, and your eyelashes and eyebrows are no exception. When your estrogen levels drop during menopause, it can damage hair follicles all over your person.
Your hair is likely to get thinner, frizzier, lighter, and brittle, no matter where it lies on your body. If you have curly hair, you may even find your hair starting to naturally straighten.
After menopause, we also produce less prostaglandin. Prostaglandin is a growth hormone that stimulates the growth of our eyebrows and eyelashes.
It’s not just menopause; any sudden change in our hormonal profile can disrupt our hair. It’s the same reason we also experience postpartum hair loss, too.
Aside from losing density, you may also observe your lashes getting shorter. That is, even the longest lash on your eyelid is half as long as you remember them being. Two factors are at play here: The lash's strength and the follicle's efficiency.
First, the lash itself is more brittle, so instead of breaking at the root, you will likely find your lashes snapping in the middle of the fiber. Second, since the follicle may be suffering from the lack of estrogen or assorted support proteins, it’s working overtime to get the lash to grow at all and still follow the timeline of the lash growth cycle, so a shorter lash is all it can manage.
The new brittleness is thanks to a lack of oil production around the roots of the lash. The natural oils would help hydrate and nourish the lashes, and when that oil dries up, it affects the lash’s flexibility. The drop in oil production, in tandem with the weakness of the follicles, can lead to increased fallout of lashes that are already present.
Now, eyelashes are fragile to start with. Even young eyes lose an average of one to five eyelashes per day as part of a regular growth cycle.
You can imagine that when any fragile fiber becomes even more fragile, you must start to be very careful not to break it. Ditching your manual lash curler is a good first step since manual curlers that crimp the lashes are common culprits for breaking your delicate lashes.
Are There Other Causes of Thinning Eyelashes?
It’s not just age or menopause that may be responsible for your thinning lashes, though. There are many other potential culprits to consider, especially if you’re not menopausal.
If your hair loss is exclusively in your eyelashes, and your eyebrows and body hair are unchanged, consider some of these alternative explanations:
Consider physical irritants: constantly rubbing your eyes, either with your hands, a makeup remover, or a washcloth, may contribute to the thinning. The constant rubbing can irritate the follicles themselves and inflame them.
If you sleep on your face, the friction against your pillow may be a contributing factor. Using an eyelash curler, heated or not, can speed up eyelash shedding.
If you wear eyeliner, mascara, or eye makeup in general, be very careful to only gently blot when removing your makeup to avoid aggravating the issue. Don’t leave eye makeup on too long since it can clog pores and trap dirt.
Check to see if the actual ingredients of the cosmetics are the culprit; for example, we strongly recommend against using waterproof mascara when you have thinning eyelashes because of its extra waterproofing chemicals and difficulty to remove. Always patch-test new cosmetics to check for allergic reactions or irritation.
Consider simple heredity. Do your relatives have thin eyelashes? Do their eyelashes start to thin in their 30s or 40s? Just like premature baldness can be genetic, so can thinning eyelashes.
Annoyingly, if you have had naturally sparse eyelashes your whole life, you’re likely to experience slow to no eyelash regrowth in your older years as well.
If you’re taking medication for which hair loss is a possible side effect, talk with your doctor since the medication may be affecting your lashes. As always, if you have a concern about your eyes or eyelashes, speak to your doctor or see an optometrist.
Blepharitis is a medical condition of clogged oil glands along the lash line that cause chronic inflammation and disruption of lash follicles. It may feel like itchy or burning eyes and look like red and swollen eyelids. This condition is treatable with a trip to the doctor to assess the severity, though it usually clears up fairly quickly with treatment. It should not be left untreated.
Some medical conditions may indirectly hurt your lashes, like a thyroid condition. Evidence suggests that thyroid conditions, both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, can inhibit lash growth.
Your thyroid is a gland in your neck that controls your body’s hormonal balance. If your thyroid is acting up, and your body is getting too many hormones or too few hormones, you may experience hair loss, among other health impacts.
If you are experiencing sudden and rapid loss of hair with no obvious cause, see a medical professional immediately.
The Eye Lash Growth Cycle
Regardless of age, all eyelashes follow the same growth pattern. The whole growth cycle lasts roughly 90 days. When a lash reaches the end of its cycle, it falls out and is replaced with a new lash.
Eyelashes are always at different places in the cycle. Otherwise, all your eyelashes would fall out in unison every five weeks, and how strange would that be?
Anagen – The Growth Phase: During this phase, the lash grows from nothing into something. Like a flower sprouting from the soil, this is the phase you’d see a little green sprout pop up from the ground.
Catagen – The Maintenance Phase: During this phase, your lash reaches its longest length and maximum diameter. This is the lash’s fully grown era. Keeping your lashes hydrated and nourished can help extend their life in this phase.
- Telogen – The Release Phase: During this phase, your lash falls out, and the follicle gets ready to sprout a new lash.
When the follicles are impeded by hormonal imbalance, it can primarily impact the anagen phase. When your lashes are affected by irritants or a lack of structural proteins, it can primarily impact the catagen phase.
How Can I Combat Thinning Eyelashes?
There are a number of things you can do to help your lashes appear fuller and stronger:
Don’t pull or tug on your lashes for any reason. Wearing makeup that is easy to remove with a gentle rinse will help reduce the friction and tension on your lashes. Undue tension and friction can cause breakage and interruption to your lash growth cycle.
Additionally, touching your eyes can introduce bacteria from the surfaces you touch every day, and no matter how old you are, that’s gross!
Serums are like a vitamin for your lashes and your skin: they may help, but they’re not guaranteed treatments. To combat thinning lashes, look for serums that contain peptides (aka amino acids), collagen, biotin, keratin, pumpkin seed extract, and vitamin B5.
To strengthen your lashes in that catagen phase, look for moisturizing ingredients like castor oil, pumpkin seed extract (again!), hyaluronic acid, and ceramides.
Avoid any serums with Isopropyl cloprostenol. Isopropyl cloprostenol is a synthetic ingredient that mimics the active ingredient in glaucoma medication. It can cause severe side effects.
Do not use a lash serum if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma because it may cause vision loss.
Lightweight lash extensions can be a safe and easy way to mask thinning eyelashes. Choose a lash that is lightweight and made of high-quality materials.
Ensure the adhesive you use actively nourishes and protects your natural lashes instead of choking them with toxins. Lashify’s Whisper Light forms a cushion around your lashes, and it contains biotin for nourishment.
If you want a lightweight lash that will flatter every eye, look at our Intimates Collection! These natural-looking Gossamers come in natural colors like Black, Ash, Minx, Ginger, and Truffle. Choose a lash that matches the shade of your natural lashes to mask the appearance of thinning lashes totally.
The Intimate Collection comes in Curl and Amplify lash styles. For mature eyes, we recommend a Curl lash style. These natural colors are perfect for helping anyone get a natural lash look, even if you’re suffering from thinning lashes.