Ever since I went through chemotherapy treatments I noticed a drastic change to the look of my eye area: thinning eyelashes and eyebrows. The hair on my head thinned drastically as well but somehow I was better prepared for it mentally. I knew cancer generally meant balding and I also knew that this would be only temporary. And it was. With the help of home remedies, proper supplementation, changes in hair care and coloring routine, my hair came back to a satisfactory degree.
Eyelashes and eyebrows, not so much. When a few months after I finished chemo I visited my surgeon for a scheduled checkup, he looked at my face and asked, what did you do? New haircut? New makeup? It turns out, my face looked different because my eyes lacked the frame he apparently remembered from the many appointments we had prior to chemo.
By then I knew, I had to do something to combat the thinning of my lashes and to prevent further loss of the eyebrows. So what did I do? What worked and what did not? Let’s dig in.
What is behind thinning eyelashes and eyebrow loss?
Why care about thinning eyebrows and eyelashes? Eyelashes aren’t just important for beauty as a frame for our blues, browns or hazels. They have an actual function – to protect the eyes from outside dirt and particles that could lead to eye injury or infection.
Just like the hair on our head, eyelashes go through cycles of growth, rest, shedding, and regrowth. It is perfectly normal for healthy eyelashes to fall and grow back about several weeks, 6-8 weeks on average. The full eyelash growth cycle takes about 15 weeks.
Our lashes grow through follicles at the edge of the eyelid. However, the older we get, the slower our hair grows and so just like the hair on the head, also our lashes start to thin out.
Top reasons for eyebrow loss and thinning eyelashes
As already mentioned, with aging comes thinning of all hair. When it comes to eyelashes, is related mainly to the dryness of the skin on the lid which can lead to lash fallout.
When the levels of hormones start to drop, the hair follicles have less stimulation and this in turn can lead to a further slowing of the hair growth process. Menopause and andropause will usually come with thinning hair and yes, thinning eyelashes and eyebrows.
Excessive eye rubbing and roughing
Your eye hygience has a lot to do with the state of the eyelashes. Too much rubbing with eye makeup remover, using harsh sponges or cotton rounds, and rubbing the eye area too harshly is not good for lashes.
But also, rubbing eyes due to itching (allergy, tiredness, blue-light fatigue)
can damage eyelash filicles in long run.
Irritation from cosmetics
There are many culprits to eyelash thinning and fallout. Here are some:
- Wearing eye makeup for too long
- Sleeping with mascara on
- Using eyelash curlers
- Removing eyelash extensions by pulling the glue off
Stress can lead to a host of health problems so it is paramount to limit or eliminate it if possible. In some cases, stress and anxiety can manifest in a disorder called “trichotillomania which causes people to compulsively pull out their eyelashes” as this article explains.
There are several medical conditions that can actually lead to hair loss, including eyelash and eyebrow thinning or loss: blepharitis, thyroid disorders, alopecia, and some inflammatory diseases.
Some, not all, chemotherapy drugs are known to cause hair loss. If such drug is used as part of the cancer treatments, the patient will likely lose their hair on the body, the scalp, and also eyebrows and eyelashes. Ususally the hair starts growing back immediately after the chemo has ended, but it might the growth might be slow, the hair might come back different than before chemo, and the eyelashes might be different color or texture.
Bye-bye beautiful brows and lashes
I used to have pretty, long, and relatively thick eyelashes. My eyebrows were more on the skinny, skimpy side, but that’s genetics. When I was going through chemo, I did not pay attention to my brows and lashes. I was focussed on surviving and frankly, couldn’t care less about such externalities as the beautiful frame for me baby blues.
But, once the cancer journey was finished (is it ever though?), and I started rebuilding my work life, my social contacts, and my regular routine, the sparse lashes, and brows became more noticeable.
On top of it, I wanted to drastically detoxify my beauty routine as part of my cancer recurrence prevention plan. All my old cosmetics, hair dyes, curlers, and falsies went straight into the trash and I embarked on a mission to make my routine as clean and green as humanly possible.
I used Latisse for a little while, my oncologist had no qualms prescribing it. I guess it is the norm in the world of cancer. But, even though it did help with eyelash growth somewhat, I noticed that my eye lids were itching and becoming weirdly brownish in color. With such side effects, I decided I will not continue to use the drug. This is also another part of my attempt to limit chemical exposure to the bare and really necessary minimum.
Instead I opted for more natural route. Here is what I tried and what worked. And, at the end, I found the Holy Grail. Keep reading.
Remedies for thinning eyelashes and eyebrow loss
Whatever works for a healthy body will work for healthy hair, including beautiful eyelashes and eyebrows. In my diet, I’m including two key groups:
- healthy proteins (sustainably caught fish, grass-fed beef and organic poultry)
- organic fruits and vegetables
Certain nutritional deficiencies may contribute to hair loss. It is possible that these deficiencies could also affect the eyelashes.Medical News Today
Here is the list of most crucial nutrients can improve hair health :
- vitamin C
- vitamin B
- vitamin D
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I’m lucky to have a kitchen garden that provides me with bountiful veggies for about ten months out of the year (the beauty of living in California). But you can also get all these good nutrients from a store or a service like a veggie box delivered to your house. Before I started my gardening adventure two years ago, I was getting my veggies delivered weekly from local farmers at Farm Fresh To You.
If you’re looking for the best possible grass-fed beef, organic poultry, and heritage pork, give Butcher Box a try. I’ve been buying from them for years now and the quality of the product and service is unsurpassed.
Good eye hygiene
I use only natural mascara these days. Nothing harsh, nothing with glue or added fibers, just natural pigmented and nourishing mascara. My favorite is by far Milk’s Kush Mascara. It’s volumizing, nourishing, and conditioning. It is also vegan, paraben-free, and talc-free. Just perfect!
The same goodness is found also in Milk’s Brow Fiber Gel. Also clean, also vegan, and it comes in many shades so that anybody can find their perfect match.
Use eyelash serum and brow serum
I always heard that Castor Oil was very good for eyelash and brow growth. I tried using it on my eyelashes but it ended with a gloopy mess in my eyes. It is definitely not easy to use on eyelashes! But for eyebrows, that’s a different story. I started making a eyebrow growth serum and I’ve been using it religiously, every night for the past several months. And I can see really good effects. The brows are thicker, fuller, and they seem to be darker than before. Still not near to perfect, hence my use of Milk Eyebrow Gel. But the difference is real and I think it will continue.
My Serum for Thinning Eyebrows
- Fill one Roller bottle with:
- 1/3 of Castor Oil (I use this one)
- 1/3 of Black Cumin Oil (I find this one great)
- 1/3 of Aloe Vera Juice (this is a good organic one)
- 5 drops each of Rosemary Essential Oil and Cedarwood Essential Oil
Use a good Peptide Growth Serum
This is my Holy Grail mentioned above! I saw a post by a fellow cancer thriver about the amazing growth she experience after using this serum. I asked her about it, I researched the company, it all checked out and I was ready to try.
Hello Skincare Lash Therapy Serum
The serum is super easy to apply. One swipe on the top eyelash line is all that’s needed. Wait for it to dry before putting on any eye cream or serum.
The first four weeks, it seemed like nothing was happening. I might have been in the non-growth phase, or it simply is taking that long to start working. After week five, I started seeing that the eyelashes were longer and slightly thicker. at about 8 week mark, I was putting on mascara (such a rare event now during COVID) to go out, and wow, only then, did I realize how long the eyelashes have gotten! I was really amazed. I have never gotten results like that from the prescription-strength Latisse. And, to top it off, with this serum, there is no itching, no color changes to the eye lid. It just simply works!
One tube of the serum has 3 ml of the product in it. This is meant to last three months. At 75 USD a bottle, this comes down to about 25 bucks a month. It is not cheap, but I think it is really well worth the expense.
If you want to try it, go to Hello Skincare and use the code Joanna10 to get 10% off your order.