About Plucking Eyelashes

Close-up of woman's eye
A closeup of a woman's eyes and eyelashes. (Image: Comstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Everyone wants long, thick lashes, which are a mark of beauty and health. Lashes also serve a practical purpose, protecting the eye from dirt, dust and other particles. Plucking the eyelashes may sometimes necessary to get rid of an overly long or unruly stray growing the wrong way. Overplucking lashes may point to a behavioral problem that requires professional attention. In any case, understanding that eyelashes do not grow back quickly is important so that you avoid unnecessary and overabundant plucking.

How to Pluck your Eyelashes

Clean the eyelid with tear-free shampoo and gently dab dry with a clean towel. Use a pair of tweezers that have been sterilized in alcohol and dried and make sure the lighting in the room is bright enough to see each individual lash. Using a magnification mirror can help eliminate the risk of injuring the eyelid. Carefully choose the eyelash that is to be plucked and take hold of it with the tweezers while holding the skin taut. This will prevent injury to the eye in case of slippage. In one rapid motion, pluck the eyelash out of the follicle.

Compulsive Eyelash Plucking

A nervous disorder called trichotillomania occurs in children and adults and can be associated with obsessive compulsive disorder. With this disorder, children or adults pull out hairs on their head, eyebrows or eyelashes. This can be described as a nervous tic and is very troublesome. The extent of pulling creates bald spots and eventual death of the hair follicle, making regrowth impossible. Psychiatric counseling and medications are prescribed to help this condition. Antidepressants and antipsychotic medications are commonly given to patients suffering from trichotillomania. These medications calm overproduction of chemicals in the brain that cause these compulsions as well as increase serotonin, or the "feel good" hormone, to hold low self-esteem and anxiety at bay.

Dangers of Eyelash Plucking

Eyelashes serve as protection to the eye from dust and other particles that could cause scratches and other irritations along with infections to the eye. Plucking out too many eyelashes will leave your eyes at greater risk of injury and bacteria. Eyelashes grow slower than eyebrows and other body hair, so overplucking can be detrimental to cosmetic concerns. Sterilization of tweezers is important, as they can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Never use tweezers that have not been properly sterilized or are chipped or broken.

Remedies for Overplucking

If you find you have lost too many eyelashes, there are remedies available to promote eyelash growth and prevent further loss. Lash growth and lash conditioning products contain active ingredients such as prostaglandins, vitamins and plant extracts. These serums and gels are easily applied using a wand similar to one used in applying mascara and can be worn alone at night or underneath mascara during the day. Latisse is a prescription lash-growth serum containing the drug prostaglandin and found to promote longer thicker lashes in over 80 percent of users. Makeup can also hide missing lashes. Eyeliner can give the effect of eyelashes by sweeping a thin layer onto the upper eyelid. Fake eyelashes are available at most beauty supply stores and drugstores. Fake eyelashes should not be slept in and should be properly removed nightly with a good adhesive remover.

When to See a Professional

If you experience excessive plucking to the point of obsession or if you have developed red, irritated eyes or eyelids as a result of plucking, then you should visit a physician. Antibiotics can help treat bacterial infection caused by plucking and creams can be prescribed for skin irritation. Obsessive plucking can be treated with antipsychotic drugs and antidepressants. Always use caution when plucking eyelashes, and don't pluck more than one at a time.

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