The Cosmic Growth Cycle of Eyelashes
Dr Gill. Is it normal for eyelashes to fall out?
I often get asked about eyelash loss which usually starts the conversation about the growth cycle of eyelashes.
Just like the hair on your head, each individual eyelash is programmed to grow to a certain length, fall out, only to grow again. When I was studying this in optometry school, eyelash growth always reminded me of the cycle of the moon. Waxing. Waning. But always growing to a full moon again.
An individual eyelash undergoes a beautiful 3-part cycle. Here we will talk about all 3. My goal as an optometrist is to maintain eyelash follicles from inflammation so that the growth phase can last as long as possible – hence creating an eyelash for the most potential for maximum growth.
This is the growth phase. It lasts anywhere between 30 to 45 days. My thinking behind the anagen phase is that an unhealthy eyelash follicle might grow a lash for just 30 days while a health eyelash follicle might grow a lash for up to 45 days. Here your eyelash is growing from a little bud to it's fullest potential (if it can stay in the anagen phase for 45 days). Only about 40% of the upper eyelashes and about 15% of the lower eyelashes are in the anlagen phase at any one time which allows eyelash growth to rotate and for them to always be present on the eyelids.
The growth phase is followed by a transition phase which lasts typically for 14-21 days. Here the eyelash stops growing and the follicle begins to desiccate. This phase is interesting because the eyelash is still present in it's maximum length even though the follicle itself is getting prepared to desiccate in order to replenish again.
The catagen phase must complete to the next phase, so early lash loss in this phase can make the lashes look less full. Again, emphasizing healthy follicles is the key here.
This is the resting phase. Here, the eyelash will naturally fall out because the follicle has completely decussated in order to return to the growth phase. This phase can last anywhere between 90 to 120 days where no visible lash can be seen to the naked eye.
Here the emphasis is to keep the eyelid margins clean to reduce sources of inflammation so that the follicle is resting in a healthy environment and ready to grow to it's fullest potential when the growth phase begins again. The end.
So to answer the question – yes. Lash loss is a very normal part of a healthy eyelash cycle. Prolonging lash life with healthy eyelash follicles should be a normal part of your beauty routine.
Love + Healthy Eyes,