Eyelashes – everyone has them, but why? What purpose do they serve? As opposed to other body parts that have a much more obvious function, our eyelashes seem to be more ornamental, like how a peacock has showy plumage.
Is it bad to pluck eyelashes if they’re just for show? Well, it’s certainly not a good idea.
In this article, we are going to look at eyelashes, their purpose, growth cycle, what happens if you pluck them, and if and how long they take to grow back. We will also as discuss why people pluck their eyelashes.
Is It Bad To Pluck Eyelashes?
The Risks of Plucking Your Eyelashes
Due to the fact that your lashes are your eyes’ first line of defense, plucking them out leaves your eyes more susceptible to dust and debris getting into your eyes. This can in turn lead to irritation and potentially an infection.
If you are in the habit of plucking your eyelashes, you are often touching your eyes. Because we use our hands to do basically everything and they’re always in contact with stuff, they are not exactly sterile.
You are much more likely to introduce foreign bacteria from your hands to your eyes if you’re touching them all the time.
This will significantly increase your chances of an eye infection.
If, while attempting to pluck out your eyelash, it breaks below the lash line instead of removing the entire lash by the bulb, you can develop an ingrown eyelash.
You have far fewer lashes than you do hair on your head, so it doesn’t take a lot of eyelash plucking to create temporary bald spots on your lash line.
Missing chunks of eyelashes are not going to cause you any physical harm, but it can potentially cause emotional stress and issues with self-confidence, especially due to the fact that eyelashes are very slow-growing.
Do Eyelashes Grow Back If You Pluck Them?
When you pull out a hair, the papilla, pilli muscles, and sebaceous gland, all of which connect the hair to the follicle, usually remain intact or will heal.
The follicle will regenerate a new bulb and the hair will start to grow again eventually. It should take about six weeks to grow back after having been plucked, and even longer if there is damage to the follicle.
There is a condition called trichotillomania that is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder whereby a person cannot resist the urge to pull out their hair. It’s most often hair on the head, but it can also be hair in other places, including the eyelashes.
Repeated plucking of the hairs can cause damage to the hair follicle and slow hair growth, thinning them out.
If this condition is left unaddressed and untreated, it can lead to permanent follicle damage and permanent bald spots on the lash line.
Trichotillomania is classified as an obsessive-compulsive disorder that affects 1-2% of the population. It’s characterized by the uncontrollable impulse to pluck the hair, most commonly from the scalp, but can include other parts of the body, including the eyelashes.
If you suffer from trichotillomania and are asking – Is it a bad idea to pluck your eyelashes? – as you may have gathered from the information above about how eyelashes serve a function to protect your eyes and the risks of ingrown lashes and eye infections, yes, it is a bad idea.
But the repercussions of trichotillomania can affect your health far more than the potential of bald spots and ingrown lashes. It’s not only your physical, but also your mental health that is affected.
What you have to understand is that trichotillomania is like epilepsy in that it’s not a particular, specific disorder, but a blanket term used to describe the symptoms.
Epilepsy refers to anyone who has seizures, whether they are caused by a head injury, birth defect, brain tumor, or in most cases the reason is not known why.
Like Epilepsy, trichotillomania a is a blanket term to describe anyone who compulsively pulls out their own hair, regardless if it’s conscious or not, and regardless of the underlying cause; be it because of anxiety, or its soothing effect, for gratification, an emotional release, or the need to feel a different kind of pain or a different reason altogether.
The underlying cause is not a tidy, one-size-fits-all for everyone.
If left untreated, trichotillomania can lead to social withdrawal and dysfunction, not to mention the cycle of negative emotions that goes with the behavior including guilt, shame, and embarrassment.
But let’s get real for a minute… a blog that features articles like “Does mascara have bat poop in it” and “Will Purple Shampoo Fix Green Hair” is hardly the place for you to be looking for (or taking) mental health advice.
Now while we can provide good information about the physical aspects of plucking eyelashes, having a support group with resources will be far more helpful:
The Purpose Of Eyelashes
Often regarded as just a decorative emphasis of beauty, eyelashes actually serve several important functions. The primary function of eyelashes is to protect the eyes from small particles like dust, sand, and debris from getting into our eyes.
Eyelashes are also highly sensitive to touch. They can even detect differences in air movement close to the eyes.
They provide a warning that an object is too close and sends a signal to the brain to close the eyes.
Eyelashes are also arranged to funnel liquid away from the eyes. Think of them like eyelid eaves troughs. This helps prevent sweat, water, makeup, or any other liquid running down your face from entering the eyes.
They are also natural sun visors, giving your eyes some protection from the sun.
And finally, they flutter and bring attention to the eyes, for beauty purposes.
Eyelash Growth Cycle
The eyelash growth cycle has three phases:
Growth phase – A new eyelash grows for one to two months. Eyelashes generally grow at about 1/200 of an inch each day. This phase can last between 4 to 10 weeks.
Transition phase – The eyelash stops growing and the hair follicle shrinks. This takes about 15 days.
Resting phase – The fully grown eyelash protects the eye for four to nine months then naturally falls out.
The entire eyelash growth cycle lasts between 4 and 11 months before it starts over again. This is a much shorter phase than the hair on your head which can last 2-4 years.
That having been said, you have a lot more hair on your head than you do on your eyelids.