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Unhealthy lashes appear sparse, which can cause stress and embarrassment. Physical and health risks can also increase when eyelashes are not properly cared for, since lashes function by keeping dirt and bacteria off of the eyes and surrounding skin. Healthy eyelashes can be achieved with a proper diet, stress management, hygienic face-washing and makeup application habits. Also lash conditioners may be purchased over-the-counter or made from household products.
A balanced diet can make all hair grow faster and thicker, including eyelashes. Recommended foods include those high in iron, zinc and protein, like lean beef, nuts, milk, and whole grains. Foods high in vitamin H, such as bananas, cauliflower and egg yolk, also make lashes grow more lush. Nourishing habits should extend to lifestyle choices, as those who are rested and experience minimal stress are more likely to maintain healthy eyelashes. Eight hours of sleep should be a nightly goal, and relaxation methods, like yoga and meditation, can keep stress from having a physical impact on the body.
Lashes often become unhealthy when dirt and debris from cosmetics are allowed to accumulate on and around the eyelids. Bacteria, as well as preservatives and other chemicals present in eye makeup, can irritate the eyelid, restricting lash growth and inciting flaking. Eye makeup and applicators should be replaced at least every three to six months, use of shared products and store testers should be avoided, and the eye area should be thoroughly washed with specially formulated makeup remover each night before bed time.
Tugging or pulling on lashes may damage the hair follicles, causing discontinued growth. Eyeliner and eyeshadow should be applied slightly above, rather than on, the lash line. Mascara is best applied to tips of lashes, rather than roots. Makeup applied in a steady environment is safest, as poking or pulling lashes and eyes can cause serious damage, so cosmetics applications in moving vehicles or while walking is not recommended. If curling lashes is necessary, the curling tool should not contact the eyelid as it is being clamped.
Over-the-counter eyelash conditioners often have moisturizers and proteins that help prevent flaking and breakage. Plain petroleum jelly applied daily to lids can have a similar effect with minimal expense. Prescription serums with hormones that improve hair growth may produce healthy eyelashes, however, some side effects, such as changes in eye color and skin darkening, have been associated with these products. Those considering using an over-the-counter or prescription product for healthy eyelashes should consult with an eye doctor prior to application.