Say What? Coconut Oil for Your Eyelashes?

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

You’ve no doubt heard about the many benefits of coconut oil for skin, hair, and even weight loss, but what about the benefits of coconut oil for eyelashes? Can this silky oil give you beautiful, full, thick lashes?

Eyelashes are one of our most powerful facial features, drawing attention to our eyes and all of the unspoken communication they convey. But they’re also our most neglected facial feature. We think nothing of caking them in (often toxic) mascara and subjecting this ultra delicate area to the harsh adhesives used to affix fake lashes.

Long associated with youth and beauty, thick, long luscious lashes are a look that most women (and a growing number of men) want to achieve. And that is certainly borne out by the sales figures. In 2014 mascara sale were an eye watering $947 million dollars, and sales of false eyelashes and adhesives reached over $53 million dollars.

That’s a huge sum of money spent on products which ultimately cause so much damage to eyelashes. And which often result in a heavy, clumpy, inelegant look instead of the healthy, sleek, defined effect users were hoping for.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get your natural eyelashes into shape and forego the need for artificial enhancements all together? No more time consuming mascara or false lash application, no more extra time needed before bed to get the gunk off and no more damage to the delicate lashes that protect your eyes?

Eyelashes Don’t Just Look Pretty – They’re Essential For Healthy Eyes

Your eyelashes serve a very important purpose, and damaging them leaves your eyes vulnerable to viral, bacterial, fungal and even parasitic infections. Eyelashes work to help keep dust and other debris out of your eyes, they ensure that your eyes don’t dry out, and they also act as sensors, causing you to blink and bringing down the protective eyelid, if an object gets too close.

Your eyelashes grow to the perfect length to protect your eyes. Researchers found that most eyelashes grow to one-third the length of the eye which is the optimum

length to minimize airflow over the eyeball and control rates of evaporation from the surface of the eye. This was true for all of the 22 mammals (including humans) in the study.

Let’s repeat that because it’s important. YOUR eyelashes are designed to be just the right length for YOUR eyes. Mess about with that length, either by causing breakages, or by extending the length of your lashes is not a good idea, as we’ll see.

According to Dr. David Hu from the Georgia Institute of Technology

“As short lashes grew longer, they reduced air flow, creating a layer of slow-moving air above the cornea. This kept the eye moist for a longer time and kept particles away. The majority of air essentially hit the eyelashes and rolled away from the eye.”

However, that benefit didn’t continue as lashes grew beyond the optimum point. If lashes grew too long, they channeled airflow toward the eye, causing faster evaporation of moisture from its surface.

Extending the natural length of your lashes by using mascaras or false lashes harms the health of your eye.

Guillermo Amador, from Georgia Tech, has this to say

“This is why long, elegant, fake eyelashes aren’t ideal. They may look good, but they’re not the best thing for the health of your eyes. If women use false eyelashes, they could actually dry out their eyes a little faster and have to blink more frequently.”

So lashes longer than your natural perfect length could dry out your eyes, which causes irritation and can lead to infection. And then there’s the damage inflicted by adhesives, which may contain toxic chemicals like formaldehyde.  Consumer Reports recommended that women avoid eyelash extensions and false eyelashes due to the possibility of suffering an allergic reaction to the formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen. Furthermore, eyelash glue increases the risk of eye infection due to the accumulation of dirt and bacteria on its surface.

Turning to false eyelashes and lash extensions puts your eyes in contact with irritating and potentially dangerous adhesives and leads to an increase in dirt and bacteria at your lash line. The increased length directs airflow into your eye leading to irritation, and a reduction in the lubricating and protecting action of your natural tear film. And as a final blow they actually cause your natural lashes to become thinner and more likely to fall out.

The College of Optometrists, in the United Kingdom has even warned

“…repeated use of eyelash extensions can cause traction alopecia, a condition where the hair falls out due to excessive tension placed on the hair shaft. As a result, this can damage the hair follicle, which can slow down and even cease production of hair.”

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) has also issued a warning about the dangers of eyelash extensions, saying they can lead to

  • Infection of the cornea
  • Infection of the eyelid
  • Swelling of the eyelid

Permanent or Temporary Loss of Eyelashes

Permanent or Temporary Loss of Eyelashes

Eyelash extensions account for the greatest number of eye-clinic consultations in Japan, where they have been extensively used for a number of years.

What’s intriguing is that both Consumer Reports and the American Academy of Ophthalmology suggest using mascara as a safe alternative to false eyelashes, but mascara is pretty scary stuff once you take a closer look.

Dark and Dangerous

Mascara draws attention to the eyes by creating longer, thicker, fuller, more voluminous lashes. What’s not to love about that? Well most commercial mascaras contain synthetic dyes and minerals that cause skin irritation and allergic reactions, and are in some cases are known to be carcinogenic.

The substances that you apply to your skin, including makeup, don’t stay on the surface, nor do they only venture skin deep, they’re absorbed all the way into the body. Your skin doesn’t distinguish between the good guys and the bad, it operates an open door policy.

Mascaras contain toxic ingredients like Butylparaben, Ethylparaben, and Propylparaben which can cause allergic reactions and contact dermatitis. These parabens are known endocrine disruptors and because they resemble natural estrogen, can easily penetrate the skin. These chemicals enter the body through the tiny pores around the eyes and enter into the bloodstream where they mix with your hormones and cause problems.

When mascaras with synthetic colors are used, you’re introducing known carcinogens to your body. And ingredients like Polybutene, used as a tackifier and plasticizer, are derived from petroleum and used to manufacture glue.

In tests in 49 makeup items including 7 mascaras

  • 96 percent contained lead
  • 90 percent contained beryllium
  • 61 percent contained thallium
  • 51 percent contained cadmium
  • 20 percent contained arsenic

None of these ingredients are used because they’re good for your skin. They’re used because they’re cheap and give products a long shelf life. Which is great for manufacturers, but not so great for you. And just because the ingredients are cheap, don’t think that they always have a price tag to match. Luxury brands are just as guilty of these practises as the cheap and cheerful tubes in the 99 cent bins at the drugstore.

You can check out the safety of all of your cosmetic products at the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.

Besides the toxins and hormonal disruptors already lurking in your mascara, the environment inside your mascara tube provides the perfect breeding ground for bacteria from the moment you first pop the cap.

A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science revealed the presence of Staphylococcus aureus in 79% of mascara samples tested

Dr. Jody Krukowski of the University of Kansas Medical Center’s Department of Integrative Medicine says

“The moist, dark environment inside of the mascara tube combined with normal daily eye secretions that get transferred from the mascara wand to the tube creates the perfect place for bacteria to grow… [And because there are] many pores where eyelashes come out of the eyelids as well as glands and tear ducts, our eyes become very vulnerable to infection.”

Using mascara in a bid for thicker looking lashes, exposes you to dangerous toxins, increases your risk of bacterial and fungal eye infections. Mascara and eye makeup removal products cause lashes to dry out, become brittle and break off, and increases the rate at which your eyelashes fall out. This leaves your eyes with less natural protection because you have fewer and shorter lashes.

Okay, so now we’ve looked at the potential harm involved in the seemingly innocent pursuit of the perfect set of eyelashes, and seen exactly why ‘normal’ cosmetic approaches are a such a bad idea, so just how can you get those thick, flattering healthy looking lashes?

Coconut Oil To The Rescue

 

The best home remedy to help your eyelashes grow thick, strong and luscious is coconut oil. It’s safe, it’s natural, and it’s packed full of nutrition.

This lightly scented, non greasy oil will make your lashes soft and shiny, and it’s non comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores like many other oil based products.

Coconut oil will instantly improve and condition your eyelashes, providing much needed nourishment and protection to lashes damaged by cosmetic products. Once applied to your lashes, coconut oil will immediately soften and moisturize dry lashes, and it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties will get to work on any infectious microbes at your lash line.

An application of coconut oil coats eyelashes, increasing volume, creating separation and definition, and thanks to the healthy glossy shine produced, will naturally gives the appearance of deeper color.

Regular and long-term use of coconut oil brings sustained benefits to your eyelashes, replenishing them with much-needed moisture and nutrition which ultimately help lashes to last longer before falling out or breaking.

Coconut oil can do all of this for your eyelashes because it’s rich in vital proteins and fatty acids – lauric, myristic, caprylic, and capric acid. It is able to penetrate the hair shafts of your lashes and strengthen them from the inside. Coconut oil is also the only oil that actively prevents protein loss, and protein loss directly causes weak, brittle lashes.

Many women find that regular use of coconut oil on their eyelashes quickly results in fewer eyelashes falling out and an increased thickness to new lashes.

Plus, coconut oil is protective, so if you decide to continue to use mascara then make coconut oil your new best friend. Its excellent hydration properties prevent mascara from drying out your eyelashes, which results in more resilient lashes that are less prone to breaks.

Coconut oil can penetrate the hair follicle of each eyelash and stimulate increased growth rates, helping your eyelashes more easily reach their optimum length, which is great for your looks and even better for your eye health.

As well as being a superstar antimicrobial, coconut oil is a potent anti-inflammatory, which will reduce redness around your eyeline and soothe irritated skin. It helps to reduce puffiness under the eyes too! And the worst thing it will do if it gets into your eyes is make things blurry for a few minutes. It won’t sting and make your eyes run for hours, unlike cosmetic eye creams and cleansers.

If you suffer from dry flaky skin in your eye area, or dandruff along your lash line, coconut oil will quickly remedy that problem and it makes a nourishing alternative to commercial eye creams.

Coconut oil is best applied at bedtime so that it can work undisturbed overnight and so that it won’t interfere with any eye makeup that you choose to wear.

Unlike many specialist eyelash serums, coconut oil is easy to find – health food stores, supermarkets and online – and inexpensive. And since you only need to use small amounts on your eyelashes, a jar will last you for ages – although once you discover what a fantastic hair and skin product coconut oil is, you’ll probably use it all over and go through your supply much faster.

To remove eye makeup and mascara – Coconut oil will easily remove every trace of mascara and eyeliner, while conditioning your eyelids and lashes at the same time. Simply apply a small amount of coconut oil with your fingertips, allow it a few seconds to penetrate and dissolve your makeup then gently wipe off with a cotton pad.

For an overnight lash conditioner – Use a disposable eyeliner brush, clean mascara wand or Q tip to help you apply coconut oil onto clean, makeup-free lashes. Or if you want your entire eye area to benefit from the amazing skin boosting properties of coconut oil, simply use your fingers to massage a small amount into your eyelids, under eye area and the sides of your eyes where laughter lines and crow’s feet are prone to appear. Then sweep your oil coated fingers down onto your lashes.

Coconut Essential Oil

Coconut oil benefits your skin and hair and eyelashes every day but it’s especially beneficial during the harsh winter months and during hot, sunny summers.

In the winter your skin is put under pressure from the indoor environment as well as the weather outside. Both suck moisture from your skin and hair. Coconut oil stops that moisture loss and prevents the dryness that causes brittle eyelashes.

The oil’s benefits in the summer bring you protection from UV damage as well as much needed moisture. Coconut oil also protects your eyelashes from the effects of chlorine in swimming pools and the drying effect of salt water.

The regular form of coconut oil is absolutely fine for all of your hair and skincare needs, including treating and protecting your eyelashes. Regular coconut oil is solid at room temperature and below while quickly becoming liquid in warmer temperatures or on contact with your skin. If you want to use a liquid oil to make a serum, which is quick and easy to apply, then choose fractionated coconut oil which will remain in a liquid state, even in the fridge.

A popular lash serum is made by combining fractionated coconut with castor oil.

You’ll find some recipes online advising you to include essential oils in your lash serum. While essential oils can be used safely on the skin in the eye area  and give beneficial results, I would be very hesitant to use diluted essential oils on the lash line. Tea tree oil diluted to a 5% strength in carrier oil has been studied and used as a treatment for eyelash mites. For any other essential oil you should conduct your own research.

Topical application of coconut oil will give you lovely lashes with regular use, but you can improve your lashes from the inside by eating a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil every day. In addition to providing the building blocks for healthy lash production coconut oil helps to protect your cardiovascular system, regulate blood sugar levels and speed up weight loss.

You don’t need to eat it straight from the spoon if you don’t enjoy the mouth feel of oils. Add it to your cooking, by replacing other oils with coconut oil, add it to your baking in place of shortening, include it in smoothies, or gently heat some coconut oil and mix it with olive oil in your salad dressings.

While coconut oil can give you amazing eyelash growth and condition, it can’t give you its best results if your diet is missing some essential nutrients. An essential vitamin for healthy hair development and growth is Biotin, a B vitamin, while vitamin C is vital for collagen formation and healthy hair follicles.

You’ll get plenty of Biotin from egg yolks, and fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamin C. Depending on your health and your stress levels vitamin C can be used up quickly and while you’ll retain enough vitamin C to prevent deficiency diseases like scurvy, you won’t have enough available for optimum health, cell repair and regeneration. Taking a quality vitamin C supplement is a good idea for everyone but you will certainly benefit from the extra vitamin C if your lashes are weak and damaged. Look to take at least 1000mg of vitamin C each day.

And there you have it, a simple, safe and effective way to grow strong, healthy lashes that will frame your eyes beautifully.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.