“I would like to say to other people who have unique beauties – let us rejoice together and encourage happiness.” – Ms. You Jianxia.
Ms. You Jianxia delivered this wonderful quote in an interview with Guinness World Records in June of 2016 when she was celebrated for having the longest eyelash in the world, measuring at an unheard of 12.4cm. You Jianxia has since held on to the title, and she even went on to break her own record in May of 2021 with her new longest eyelash measuring at 20.5cm (that’s over 8 inches!). Realizing her eyelashes began slowly growing in 2015 but not understanding why, You Jianxia went on to say she believed her lengthy lashes to be a gift from Buddha after she spent nearly 500 days in the mountains, labeling her gift as a sign of divine intervention.
While we do not know why Ms. You Jianxia’s eyelashes continue to grow to the incredible lengths they do, we do understand the science of how everyone else’s eyelashes grow – even if the average eyelash only grows to a shorter length of less than 12mm long. For many of us, we tend to spend a great deal of time focusing on how our eyelashes look – maybe while we’re perfecting our appearance in the mirror and applying mascara, or when we’re finally sitting in the chair with our favorite lash artist again.
However, when was the last time you stopped to think about how they grow? Although you may have never thought about it before this moment, the way your eyelashes grow is an incredibly interesting process that is beneficial to understand, and familiarizing yourself with how they develop can help set you up for success.
Just like how we wake up in the morning and move through our regular steps of getting ready, our eyelashes keep a routine of their own. Today, we are going to discuss that routine and examine how your lashes progress through the various stages of their wonderful life cycle and why it is important for both you and your lash artist to understand how they grow.
The growth cycle of eyelashes can be broken down into three distinct phases:
1. Anagen Phase (Active Growth)
2. Catagen Phase (Transition)
3. Telogen Phase (Resting)
Anagen Phase (4-10 weeks)
The Anagen Phase is where lashes begin growing at a rate of .12mm to .14mm per day; these measurements may not sound like much length at first glance, especially when compared to the lashes of the world record holder, but bit by bit this helps your lashes bloom and, ultimately, is plenty of growth to pave the way for creating a full look. To accomplish this active growth, the follicles that your eyelashes grow from attaching themselves to a blood supply called the dermal papilla and effectively use the blood as fuel during this initial process. Once this beginning cycle has been initiated, it lasts anywhere between 4 and 10 weeks making it the second-longest phase in the process. It is important to note how
your individual eyelashes are all on their own separate journeys and growing at their own rate; in fact, almost 50% of your upper lashes will be in the active growth cycle at one time, with only about 15% of your bottom lashes actively growing at once. Interestingly, your upper eyelids hold approximately double the number of lashes your bottom eyelids will. You may be wondering: what are the other lashes doing that aren’t actively growing?
Catagen Phase (2-3 weeks)
The eyelashes you won’t find in the Anagen phase might have moved on to the second stage of the process – the Catagen phase. During this resting portion of the eyelash life cycle, the follicles your eyelashes are attached to will shrink down in size, limiting the fuel supply – thus limiting further growth. Eyelashes will reach their desired length here and will stop growing until the cycle repeats itself. Keep in mind if an eyelash falls out during this phase, it will not grow back until the next time the cycle begins again, starting over with the Anagen phase.
Telogen Phase (3-4 months)
Shedding your lashes is normal and, if you see it happening, it is likely those tiny hairs falling out are just in the final phase we are going to discuss now: the Telogen Phase. During the Telogen Phase, losing some of your lashes is a normal part of the eyelash growth process meaning you should have nothing to worry about. In fact, 1-5 lashes can fall out daily as new hair begins to grow and push out the old hairs. The Telogen Phase is the longest of the three phases as it takes place over the course of several months, compared to just a few weeks like the first two phases. Knowing why your eyelashes sometimes abandon their position on your eyelids should help calm any fears, but if you require additional peace of mind know that it only takes 4-8 weeks to fully replace a lash.
These three phases work together during your eyelashes’ life cycle to create one of the most beautiful features of our faces and make a playground for lash artists and their clients to collaborate for an enhanced look that draws attention to our eyes. The looks we create connect us to others while exploring our own identity. Luckily, each individual eyelash hair moves through the growth process at its own pace. If every lash were to grow, transition, and fall out at the same time, it would be much more difficult to keep a consistent look. Additionally, complications could arise from debris and sweat falling into our eyes if we were missing this protective layer of hair.
Why You Need to Know
Understanding the science behind how your eyelashes grow is important for both lash artists and you, the client. Lash artists work wonders, sometimes their services can even reach skill levels that seem magical. As a client, sharpening your knowledge of the eyelash growth cycle will help you to better communicate with your lash technician and develop a more intimate understanding of the high level job your artist is performing. Here’s an example of a potential client-technician misunderstanding that might be cleared up if all parties were familiar with the three phases of the eyelash growth cycle: some first-time clients receiving an eyelash treatment (be it a lash lift or an eyelash extension
installation) may panic at the sight of a few lashes falling out during or after the procedure. Armed with an understanding of the growth cycle and its various intricacies, clients will know that everything is going according to plan and that they are in good hands with their lash artist. Once you understand the growth cycle, you will be more attuned to the general information surrounding eyelash care and therefore more likely to truly comprehend the aftercare instructions provided to you by your lash technician. Now, you are more prepared than ever to take care of your eyelashes every step of the way before and after extensions and trips to the salon.
To improve your results at home and in the studio, here is a useful list of tips and tricks you can use to help you grow long, healthy, and full eyelashes:
1. Using an eyelash growth serum.
With the help of an eyelash growth serum, you can condition and hydrate your eyelashes while stimulating the lash hair all the way down to the follicle and prolonging your eyelash’s active growth phase. Essentially, giving you extra time during the most crucial portion of the process.
2. Nourish your eyelashes with the correct supplements.
Here are the most important vitamins for eyelash growth: Vitamin B-3, Vitamin C, and Vitamin H. All of these can be found in whole foods, or you can purchase over-the-counter products and even specialty blends of vitamins formulated specifically for supporting healthy eyelash growth – often in the form of eyelash serums or lash boosters. Take it one step further by including Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and taking Biotin supplements.
3. Keep your eyelashes clean and be gentle.
Most importantly, you should aim to keep the eyelashes you already have. Losing eyelashes can result from excessive rubbing around the eyes or applying improper cleansing techniques when washing the face and removing makeup. To do your best to keep your eyelashes intact so they can grow full and to their maximum length, regularly groom them with an eyelash comb and tweezer, and use a gentle cleanser daily. Additionally, avoid rubbing your eyes or being too harsh around the area when cleaning and drying your face.
These useful tips and clever products combined with the in-depth understanding of the process your eyelashes go through to produce the results you see every day will elevate the appearance of your eyelashes and increase your appreciation for your lash technicians and the education required for them to operate at the proficiency level you trust them to work at when you visit their salon.