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6 Steps to Better Eyelashes

What to do -- and what not to do -- for lush, full lashes.

WebMD Feature

Want longer, thicker lashes? Start with these six lash lifesavers. 

1. Take it easy. Never tug at your lashes, and avoid rubbing your eyes. "The lash root is very delicate and lashes can easily break due to our daily habits," says dermatologist Jeannette Graf, MD, of Great Neck, N.Y.

2. When using a lash curler, don't pull on your eyelids.  

3. Remove your mascara before you go to sleep. (The stiffness from the mascara can break lashes.) Use a gentle makeup remover. Pat or dab at your lids -- don't rub or pull.

4. Remove clumps from mascara when the mascara is still wet and easy to comb through.

5. Tossing your old mascara also helps keep lashes and eyes  healthy. Get a new tube every three to six months, says New York optometrist Susan Resnick, MD. That will help your mascara stay free of germs that can lead to infection.

6. If you get pink eye or another eye illness, replace any makeup that went near your eye area.

Your lashes serve a purpose beyond beauty. "Eyelashes serve a protective function: to keep foreign matter out of the eye," Resnick says.

A lash can last about three months before falling out and can take two months or more to completely grow back. Damage can also make the hair more fragile, thinner, and shorter when it does grow in. If you damage the follicle enough, it will stop producing hair, Graf says.

Eyelash Conditioners

"Just like you condition your hair, you need to condition your lashes," Graf says.

Her simple suggestion is to put a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor over your lids at night.

Over-the-counter lash conditioners can also help. They usually contain ingredients to strengthen and moisturize lashes.

A lash conditioner can help stop breakage so your lashes look longer in a matter of weeks, Graf says.

More Long-Lash Options

Eyelash extensions are tiny, synthetic hairs glued to individual lashes. They last for a couple of months.

Expect to pay $300 and up, and know that your natural lashes can be damaged as the extensions fall out.

Another option is the prescription drug Latisse, which promotes lash growth.  

"Latisse is excellent and works very well," Graf says.

Side effects can include irritation and darkening of the skin on the eyelid, which has been reported to be reversible after stopping the drug. There is also a potential that the drug could turn light eye colors brown, which is likely to be permanent, according to the drug's label. 

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