How To Grow Eyelashes: 6 Science-Backed Ways For Bambi-Like Flutters, From Derms
While a coat or three of mascara can help your lashes look fluttery and Bambi-like, there's just something about naturally long eyelashes that gains a certain gravitas. It's not just about the aesthetics: Lashes wilt and snap off as you age, which goes hand-in-hand with dryness and breakage. Meaning, encouraging length simultaneously keeps your lashes stronger and healthier, too. And who doesn't want that?
Although, unless you were just born with the longest, most doe-eyed lashes, encouraging length is a bit of a struggle. Here, six science-backed, dermatologist-approved ways to put in the work:
Use a lash growth serum.
According to board-certified dermatologist Jeanine Downie, M.D., they really provide results: "It makes my lashes grow out longer, thicker, and fuller," she previously shares with mbg. You can opt for either an FDA-approved lash growth serum (these work by actually extending the growth phase of hair) or snagging a clean option with conditioning ingredients like castor oil, honey, and vitamin E to protect and promote the growth of those fine hairs (more in a hot minute). Always chat with a derm about all the options out there before slathering on a new serum, though, just in case you face irritation.
Use castor oil.
Technically, there isn't any hard science to back up any castor oil claims (for both lash and general hair growth, it turns out). But as board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D., founder of SKINFIVE, has told us about castor oil for lashes, "There is no denying its anecdotal powers and prowess." Its moisturizing and antioxidant capabilities have made it a beloved staple for years in both Ayurvedic and Black households, and even if it doesn't promote growth, per se, it can certainly keep the lashes you do have nourished and healthy. "It is super hydrating, so lashes don't become brittle and dry or break, which happens as we age," Shamban follows.
Specifically, castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The oil is also chock-full of vitamin E, which can help protect those hairs from environmental aggressors. Finally, castor oil is both an emollient and an occlusive. What does this mean? Well, it's able to penetrate into the strands and keep moisture from seeping out in one fell swoop.
Take supportive supplements.
Did you know your eyelashes are actually tiny, delicate hairs? Yep, those fine flutters are structurally made up of the same proteins as the hair on your head—keratin perhaps being the most noteworthy. And while lashes do grow in on their own (assuming there's no scarring of the tiny follicles), supplying your body with the right nutrients can enhance the process.*
Specifically, to build keratin, your body needs several types of amino acids, many of which are part of collagen peptides. That's why research points to collagen and biotin supplements for hair growth, as ingesting both can help support your natural levels of these essential ingredients.* In fact, one small study showed that women with thinning hair had significant regrowth when supplementing with biotin as compared to those given a placebo.* Another double-blind, placebo-controlled study showed that taking both biotin and collagen supplements supported increased hair growth in women.*
Use a serum-infused mascara.
A product that makes lashes look fuller and supports healthy growth? Sign us up. There's a growing number of serum-infused mascaras on the market (this one, for instance, is infused with red clover flower and peptides), all of which coat your lashes in healthy, lengthening actives while sporting pigment. Conditioning your lashes by day (and mastering a dolled-up look, while you're at it) has never been easier.
Bonus: Mascaras infused with moisturizing ingredients tend to clump less, as the formula isn't typically as drying.
Clean them regularly.
Just like your scalp can amass buildup, your lashes can accumulate gunk as well. Eye makeup, mucus, and oil can stick in those lashes (even eyelash glue, if you're partial to extensions)—too much buildup, and it could limit lash growth, even causing a flutter or two to fall out. Your lashes stem from tiny follicles, remember? Keeping them clear and clean is key for healthy hair growth.
Although, it's a lot less maintenance than keeping your scalp buildup- and flake-free. No need to reach for a clarifying solution (ouch): When washing your face, just make sure to massage a gentle cleanser into the lids as well. Be careful not to drag or tug—keep a feathery-light pressure.
Keep the lashes you have healthy.
Here's the final ticket: To encourage growth, it's important to keep the hairs you already have strong. Healthy, thriving hairs tend to look fuller, no? Of course, keeping those hairs happy includes all the methods mentioned above, but you'll also want to do your best to avoid unnecessary stress.
Lashes are delicate and fine, and even the smallest of errors can pluck out those hairs with ease: Things like rubbing and tugging at the eyes (both with your palms and a harsh makeup remover), curling your eyelashes with death-grip force, and using irritating eye makeup can cause those lashes to weaken (and perhaps fall out). If you frequently find lashes littered across your pillow come morning, they're probably begging for some tender care.
Think of your lashes like miniature hairs (they are, anyway!). To help encourage length, it takes a balance of stimulating growth internally and moisturizing the hairs you already have.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.