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Fluttery eyelashes are the cherry on top of any makeup look. Whether you're wearing bold eyeshadow or keeping it simple, adding a couple of coats of mascara, popping on a pair of falsies, or brushing out your lash extensions can instantly transform a look to feel complete.

But to keep your lashes looking and feeling healthy, they require the proper TLC and attention. Think gently cleansing them at night or adding conditioning or lengthening serum into your routine. Otherwise, you might deal with eyelash loss and weak, fragile lashes. On top of proper care, you also need to be wary of certain habits that could be detrimental to your lashes.

Ahead, learn about six habits you might not have realized are causing lash loss and damage, along with tips to keep your lashes long, strong, and healthy.

Eyelash Curler
Credit: Getty Images

Using Eyelash Curlers

If you're someone with long lashes that stick straight out, you probably never go a day without using your lash curler. Unfortunately, repeatedly using a lash curler can cause weakening of the hair which can eventually lead to breakage.

"Eyelash curlers clamp down on lashes to create the curl effect," explains Clementina Richardson, celebrity lash expert and founder of Envious Lashes. "When you repeatedly clamp down on the same area, it causes physical damage to the lashes by weakening [the hair], which can cause it to break off."

The best method of protection for your lashes is to avoid lash curlers altogether. However, if you're careful and use it sparingly, like on special occasions, Dr. Annie Gonzalez, a board-certified dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatology, says to use the curler before applying any mascara. "Mascara will make the lashes stiffer and can lead to cracking," she says.

Also, Richardson says to make sure your lash curler is clean of any sticky mascara residue because that can also pull out the lashes when you open the clamp.

Stress

"Stress can lead to an increase in hair shedding on your head, and it can have a similar impact on your eyelashes," says Dr. Gonzalez. "Stress pushes hair follicles into the telogen phase, also known as the dormant phase, which causes hairs to fall out." This could be a result of physical or emotional stress.

Luckily, Dr. Gonzalez says that the hair does rejuvenate with time once the stressors are removed. So, if you aren't already, consider this a gentle reminder to prioritize your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing, because it continues to prove to be beneficial in all aspects of our lives.

Getting Eyelash Extensions and Lash Lifts

"Getting eyelash extensions and lash lifts can sometimes cause a little fall out of your natural lashes if not done properly," says Dionne Phillips, a celebrity lash expert and founder of D'Lashes. "Be sure a licensed experienced professional such as an esthetician or cosmetologist is providing these services."

An experienced lash expert will be able to choose the right size of lashes to adhere to so that they don't weigh down your natural lashes, explains Richardson. You'll also want to make sure you're seeing a professional for the removal process. "You want to make sure that they're not tugging it off and pulling your natural lashes along with it," she tells InStyle.

If lashes do break off, Phillips says your lashes will take up to three to four weeks until you begin to see new hair grow back. "Just make sure you're taking supplements that can help, such as omega fatty acids, which are great for hair growth," says Phillips. She recommends fish oil, castor oil, olive oil, and avocado oil supplements to help lash regrowth.

Wearing Mascara Overnight

We all know sleeping with makeup is a major no-no. However, sleeping with mascara can cause harm to your lashes in more ways than one. "Mascara can cause your lashes to fall out due to clogging the hair shaft," explains Phillips. "The hair shaft needs to be clean and filled with nutrients to stop it from getting dry or becoming clogged with excessive oil."

Additionally, sleeping with mascara can also increase the chances for bacterial infections, says Dr. Gonzalez. "When you rub your eyes throughout the day, it allows bacteria a chance to get in," she says. "If a proper product isn't used to cleanse the mascara, inflammation, irritation, and infection can occur, which ultimately can result in lash loss." Mascara can also make your lashes stiff, and it can be easier to rub off when you're sleeping, explains Richardson, which leads us to the next point.

Rubbing Your Lashes

"Anytime you're rubbing or tugging your lashes aggressively, you can pull them out and weaken them," says Richardson. Try not to rub or tug on the lashes and remember to always be gentle when removing makeup.

Trichotillomania

In severe cases, one can experience trichotillomania — a hair-pulling disorder that involves recurrent, irresistible urges to pull out hair on different areas of your body, reports Mayo Clinic. Trichotillomania is a long-term disorder that requires the professional help of a medical or mental health expert to get under control.

Ultimately, when it comes to taking care of your lashes, remember, it's all about being gentle and keeping them clean. If you want to go the extra step, incorporate a lash serum into your routine. And if despite following these tips, you're noticing continuous lash loss, we recommend making an appointment with your doctor to discuss the best action plan for you and your lashes.