When it comes to enhancing our lashes, we all have our own weapon of choice. While some swear by nothing more than a coating of the perfect mascara, others of us, who aren’t quite as lucky, are forced to turn to falsies, extensions, tints and even perms in order to give our lashes some oomph.
And it turns out we’re really committed. Recent research carried out by Huda Beauty reveals that 1 in 6 British women would rather give up dating apps or chocolate than their false lashes. But surely, with all of the glues, chemicals and dyes, these treatments will soon start taking their toll on our precious lashes?
Unfortunately, it seems they already are. Miss Elizabeth Hawkes, Consultant Ophthalmic and Oculoplastic Surgeon at the Cadogan Clinic reveals: “With the rise of eyelash treatments also comes an increase in emergency eyelid problems and serious infections. Blepharitis, a chronic inflammatory disorder of the eyelids, is a common problem associated with eyelash treatments due to bacterial overgrowth on the eyelashes.”
Yep, that’s right. The red swelling that all too often crops up on your eye lid could be really bad news and even lead to emergency procedures. Although we spend most of our time worrying about the way that our lashes look, it’s important to remember that they do actually serve a purpose, so it’s important to look after them. “Eyelids are the guards of your vision and are lined with eyelashes which protect against dust and chemicals entering. With all of the eyelash enhancing treatments, it is very important to take good care of the eyelids to protect against this damage,” explains Miss Hawkes.
So what’s causing the damage? It simply comes down to a basic lack of care and hygiene for your lids when they are most at risk of bacterial infections. Miss Hawkes says: “Eyelashes play a crucial role in the aesthetic appearance of the eyes and have a life cycle of approximately 4 months, but chronic build-up of biofilm and debris on the eyelashes and eyelids can also cause irreversible eyelash loss.”
When it comes to preventing infections, it’s important to already be looking after your lids as best as you can to keep on top of removing the biofilm and debris. If you think you’re experiencing blepharitis, it’s important to see a professional who can refer you for treatment. BlephEx® (available at London’s The Cadogan Clinic) is a new medical device that removes biofilm from the eyelashes and eyelids. Following a diagnosis of blepharitis by an ophthalmologist, BlephEx® can be performed twice a year to help keep your eyes white and your lashes clean.
However, in order to safeguard yourself against further infections, it’s imperative to keep up good general lid and lash hygiene, and it’s actually rather simple. Here Miss Hawkes reveals her top tips:
1. Eye makeup removal. I often get asked in my clinics how to take off eye makeup and what the best products are. I always advise that it is not necessarily the specific product, but the technique used. I recommend a cotton pad is gently pressed over a closed eye to allow the product to soak into the eyelashes. This may need to be repeated 2-3 times, depending on the amount of makeup. Then, for the lower lid I press the cotton pad on the under-eye area whilst looking up and remove the excess makeup. Be mindful that our eyelid skin is the most delicate skin on the face, so a gentle approach is key.
2. Do not rub your eyes. Rubbing the eyes can affect the cornea (clear front window of the eye) and eyelids and repetitive rubbing can potentially cause irreversible structural changes to your eyes, such as eyelid laxity. This can cause a range of problems including excessive periocular lines, inward or outward turning of the eyelids and can speed up the ageing appearance of the eye region.
3. Remove contact lenses before taking off makeup. Whilst most of the eye makeup remover products state they are safe with contact lenses, I always recommend removing your lenses first.
4. If you don’t clean your eyelids properly you can develop styes. Styes are very common and medically called chalazions. Management involves hot compresses and massage four times a day but persistent ones often need surgical removal.