All you should know about eyelashes: eyelash structure, functions and growth cycle

Face by Nicky Trynide

Beautiful eyelashes are one of many female attributes. Well-groomed and nicely coated in mascara eyelashes decorate the face and optically enlarge the eyes. However, in order to take proper care of them, you need to know their structure, functions and other useful information. What should you know about eyelashes?

Eyelash structure and functions

Eyelashes are embedded in hair follicles which are connected to the skin with the so-called hair papilla. It is through the hair papilla the eyelashes receive the necessary ingredients. Under the skin there is a thickened eyelash root. The shape, length, curve and stiffness depend on the genetic conditions, the general condition of the body and nutrients.

Eyelashes in 90% are built of proteins, mainly of keratin and melanin, and in 10% of water. The more melanin, the darker the eyelash is. Interestingly enough, eyelashes are the only hairs on the human body that do not go grey. The eyelash consists of three parts:

  • hair cuticles – protects the hair from the outside and regulates the amount of water by opening and closing
  • cortical layer – makes the eyelash flexible and resilient and gives it a colour
  • medulla – plays the role of thermal insulation.

The most important functions of eyelashes include:

  • protection against dust, insects and pollution,
  • frame for the eyes,
  • escorting dirt caught by tears,
  • particular prevention of snow blindness (retinal burn caused by strong light).

What affects the length of eyelashes?

The following factors influence their length:

  • genes – have influence on length, condition and eyelash growth cycle;
  • lifestyle – avoiding mechanical and chemical damage, undergoing various beauty treatments, proper hygiene;
  • diet – vitamins, macro- and micronutrients, eating nonprocessed food, drinking 1.5 litres of still water;
  • make-up and care – avoiding frequent use of waterproof cosmetics, cleaning and drying the eye area, use of tested cosmetics and eyelash serums;

Eyelashes – interesting information

On the upper eyelid there are from 150 to 250 eyelashes, and on the lower eyelid – from 50 to 150. The hair density depends on the distribution of the hair follicles on the eyelids. People with large eyes have the most dense eyelashes. In general, the shape of eyelashes is associated with their protective function – they role is to protect the eyes from dirt, dust and small insects. Eyelashes on the upper eyelid are curled so as not to impede vision. The lower eyelashes escort dirt and tears from the eye and eyelids. Eyelashes at the corners of the eyes are shorter and thinner than those in the centre. The length ranges from 8 to 12 mm on the upper eyelid, and 6-8mm on the lower.

Eyelash growth cycle

The first stage of eyelash growth is anagen, during which the hair grows. Everything happens within 45 days in the case of early anagen, and 90 days in the case of late anagen. The next phase is catagen, that lasts from two to three weeks. During this stage, the hair papilla that connects the hair to the skin wanes and stops supplying nutrients to the eyelash. Telogen, that lasts up to 100 days, is the last phase. The hair follicle is then prepared for a new eyelash.

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About the Author
Nicky Trynide

is a professional make up artist whose work has graced the runway and the red carpet as well as national and international television shows and magazines. Nicky credits his long and successful career in the industry to his innate ability to see and bring out the beauty in everyone. Growing up, his passion for his future profession was sparked by his mother and two grandmothers, all European-trained estheticians

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