Eyelashes are basically human’s equivalent of a cat’s whiskers because they perform the same sensory role. It’s a common misconception that eyelashes only beautify our eyes. They can transform your appearance into a more dramatic look. We can all agree that thick and long eyelashes make you more attractive.
The most important thing about eyelashes is their ability to protect our eyes from dust, dirt, and other irritants. The lashes also act as a shield for our eyes by protecting them from wind-blown debris. If we have no eyelashes, then it becomes extremely difficult for us to see clearly.
But did you know that you have little tiny bugs living in your lashes? Did you know that eyelashes grow in different phases? It’s a shocker, right?
In 2015, researchers published a study in the Journal of Royal Society showing that eyelashes act as the eyes’ air filters. Lases reduce tear evaporation by up to a staggering 50 percent, which helps keep our eyes lubricated.
You may also be surprised to learn that eyelashes serve several roles such as protection, health warning, moisture control and sensory function. If you’ve ever wondered “Why are our eyelashes important?” read on to find out more about these little fine hairs.
Bat Your Eyelashes
Eyelashes perform several roles. Although they are regarded as a beauty factor, their most important function is to protect our eyes against debris, dust or insects. The secondary function is the warning sign that an object is getting too close to our eyes. They’re like protective gatekeepers for our eyes.
The fine hairs protect your eyes from sun damage. They filter out sunlight which may harm your eye. Though they protect your eyes against UVB and UVA rays, the protection is minimal. Eyelashes can’t protect you like the right sunglasses can.
Eyelash loss can be a sign of a compromised immunity level. For example, eyelash mites (Demodicid), sty (external hordeolum), blepharitis, distichiasis, madarosis and trichiasis are some conditions or diseases which involve the eyelashes.
The tiny hairs sticking out in from of your eyes also retain moisture. They help keep your eyes lubricates and minimize the flow of air over your eyes’ surface. This reduces the evaporation of tears especially during the hotter seasons.
It seems these days that eyelashes get more attention for their cosmetic role. They evoke youth and femininity. It’s because having long and thick lashes makes your eyes appear larger and healthier. Evolutionary biologists believe that eyelashes translate into a woman’s fertility and reproductive health.
How Do Eyelashes Grow?
But before we dive into the growth cycle of eyelashes, here’s another fun fact. Eyelashes are the most pigmented of all human hair. That’s why they don’t go grey as we age.
To get back to the point. The growth cycle of lashes includes three phases such as Anagen (active growth), Catagen (transition), and Telogen (resting). The cycle can take between four and eleven months to finish.
During the Anagen phase, the lash is attached to the dermal papilla or blood supply, which helps it grow. Up to 40% of the upper lashes and 15% of the lower lases will be in the anagen phase at some time. It’s how you don’t lose all your lashes at once when the telogen phase ends.
The Anagen phase can last up to 10 weeks. And your lashes will grow at a rate of up to 0.14 mm daily. The longer the Anagen phase is the more the eyelash will grow.
During the Catagen phase, your eyelash hair follicle will shrink and detach from the dermal papilla. It’s when your lash stops growing. Lashes will maintain their length while they wait for the Telogen phase. The Catagen phase lasts around 3 weeks.
Fun fact: if you pull out an eyelash unnaturally, the follicle will remain empty until it completes all three growth phases.
The Telogen phase is when the lases are resting. It’s when new tiny lashes start growing inside the follicle and push the old lash out naturally. The Telogen phase lasts up to 4 months before the old lash sheds. At one time around half your eyelashes will be in the Telogen phase.
How Many Eyelashes Do We Have on Average?
It may appear to be a silly question, but many people wonder how many lashes they have. Estimates can range between 200 and 500. But as you guessed, it’s a bit more complicated than counting petals on a flower. The number of lashes we each have depends on our overall health, diet, and genetics.
The real amount is between 100 and 150 lashes per eye. But the range varies a lot. For example, a teenager has longer and fuller eyelashes than a mature person. The regeneration capability is stronger, which means the lashes of the teenager grow and replace themselves faster.
But if you’ve ever wondered why your top lashes seem fuller than your lower ones, that’s because they actually are thicker. The upper lid has a total of about 150 even 200 lashes. You’ll also notice that your middle lashes are longer than the sides.
For You Ladies…
Because bacteria can grow in eye makeup and applicators, replace your mascara wand every couple of months. You’ll avoid the risk of any infection. Oil glands nourish your eyelashes and if those glands are blocked because of makeup buildup, you’ll suffer from eye infection and other complications. Make sure you properly remove your makeup before you go to bed.
Fun Fact: Ancient Egyptians were the first people to use kohl to darken their eyelashes as early as 4000 BC. Rimmel in France created the first formula for modern mascara in 1913. The formula was spread in the USA by Maybelline, which used a mix of coal and Vaseline.