I often observe, bemused, as my girlfriend fiddles with her eyelashes before presenting herself to the general public. She chomps on them with a strange metal clamp thingy, darkens them with some black sludge and combs them with a miniature round brush that looks like it was designed for actual gnomes. My eyelashes, meanwhile, have remained virtually untouched since the dawn of my existence, and I kinda feel like I might be neglecting them.
This seems to be a common feeling among men, who are seldom told that they should care for their lashes at all, let alone how. This dude on an internet forum sums up that perception pretty well [sic]:
“Does anyone have any information on how to properly keep male eyelashes in shape? I have quite long lashes. The top are fine, but the bottom are quite spread out and feel like they’re ‘stuck’ down — like, the opposite of curling them up, I suppose.”
“I’ve been thinking about getting a brush of some sort, but I’m wary of getting some female equipment that will make me look more feminine. My other thought was going into one of the many ‘beauty’ shops and seeing what they can do.”
While dudes should stop worrying about “looking feminine” in general, I have to agree that I, too, have absolutely no clue when it comes to eyelashes, so I reached out to Anna, an instructor at the LA Lash Academy, as well as Sugarlash PRO founder Courtney Buhler and Sugarlash PRO educator Crystal Harvey, to discuss whether men should be taking better care of their lashes, and more importantly, what that might entail.
As it turns out, yeah, we should probably be grooming our lashes, and not only because well-maintained eye hairs look nice. “Your lashes are a defense against bacteria, dust and everything else that can get into your eyes,” Anna explains. “That’s the main purpose behind taking care of them: Your eye health.”
Let’s get healthy, then! The first step is to give your eyelashes a regular cleaning. “Males tend to have oilier lashes and skin than women, so proper facial cleansing is very important,” Buhler emphasizes. “30 percent of the population suffers from blepharitis, or eyelid inflammation, and the most common signs are itching or dryness in the morning. This can be caused by not cleaning the eye area properly and can even be due to bacteria being transferred from the nails, beard or eyeglass lenses.” To prevent this, Anna suggests carefully washing your lashes with a gentle cleanser whenever you’re in the shower (while your eyes are closed, naturally). Just be sure not to use anything too rough, like an exfoliating cleanser, since these can tug on your lashes, causing them to fall out.
To that end, try to avoid rubbing your eyelashes altogether. “A lot of guys have an issue where they rub their eyes a lot, and that will definitely make some lashes come out,” Anna explains. This can happen while you’re sleeping, too. “If you’re noticing that one eye has fewer or sparser lashes, you may need to start watching your sleeping patterns,” Harvey warns. “If you sleep on your stomach, or on one side of your face, you’ll typically start seeing sparser lashes on that side.”
Once your eyelashes are clean, Anna says applying a daily dab of either castor oil or coconut oil can promote growth and general well-being. “That really helps them grow stronger and longer,” she says. While you can do this with a small brush, like the kind made for teeny gnomes, Anna says a cotton swab should work just fine. Again, just be extra gentle: “You don’t want to rub or tug at your lashes at all,” Anna emphasizes.
Finally, all my experts agree that lash services, including extensions, are becoming more popular among men, especially those who have particularly sparse eyelashes. “There are actually a lot of men wanting eyelash extensions more and more,” Anna confirms. Going back to that earlier point about dudes worrying they’re looking too feminine, Buhler explains that lash extensions can look perfectly natural on dudes. “It’s possible to define the eyes without appearing overly-feminine or as if you’re wearing mascara,” she says. “The key is to look for a skilled lash artist who uses high-quality products and knows to provide a very light coverage of eyelash extensions that mimic the natural hair growth.”
If full-on extensions sound like too much, there are also less extreme options. “Lash lifts are a great way to lift and curl natural lashes, and lash tints are perfect for individuals with light or blonde lashes,” Buhler says.
Now please excuse me while I try not to poke both my eyes out with my girlfriend’s miniature comb thingy.