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How to take the yuck out of false eyelashes.

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 Photo credit  Fancy Bunny Lashes
Photo credit Fancy Bunny Lashes

For the past 16 years, I have seen hundreds, if not thousands of false eyelashes under magnification. Here I will break down 2 specific types of falsies and give you my opinion on how to cleanse properly.

I’m just gonna put it out there immediately. I really dislike false eyelashes. They are magicians when attracting dirt, debris, residue, toxins from eye makeup, bacteria and sometimes demodex (eyelid mites, yikes!). Sometimes I wonder if a used kitchen sponge is cleaner than a pair of used false eyelashes. 

But . . . false eyelashes do look very pretty on the right person. It makes the eyes appear bigger, more vibrant and sexier. I get it. So what’s a girl to do?

the temporary false eyelash

This is the product you will find at stores like Sephora. False lashes (whether in a row or individuals) are applied with an adhesive on your upper eyelid. If applied correctly, they look great! If you wear these, they are are really meant to be removed after each use . . . meaning, do not get lazy and sleep in them! After removing your falsies, you will get the best result with removing any eye makeup and eyelash glue residue with We Love Eyes tea tree eye makeup remover oil, followed with our tea tree eyelid foaming cleanser. The falsies should also be cleansed immediately (more on a later blog post).

Putting on these lashes takes a few minutes. Over time I see my patients move from temporary wear to weekly wear out of convenience. This is when those falsies and eyelids become accumulated with all of the debris I mentioned above. It looks like a toxic dump site when looking at it with my magnified lamp. Just gross? Yes!

My conclusion about temporary false eyelashes is that they are wonderful as long as you are diligent to 1) properly remove all eye makeup and glue residue immediately after each use; and 2) properly clean the falsies themselves immediately after each use. 

the eyelash extension

The eyelash extension is a good solution if you are looking for something that looks more natural with the added convenience of not having to apply and remove falsies every time you wear them. They require a trained technician to “install” them and last about 4-6 weeks which is approximately the length of an eyelash growth cycle. 

Most of my patients stop removing eye makeup because they are too worried about damaging and loosing their extensions. Bad habits form and they go weeks without properly removing eye makeup and again . . the toxic dump site is created! So gross. Here are 2 easy tips to help:

1) Avoid mascara, completely. To preserve the life of your eyelash extension, electing to go nude works best . . . meaning no mascara at all! Waterproof mascara will weaken the adhesive of the extension and having to manually remove mascara physically weakens the adhesive bond as well. 

2) Avoid waterproof eyeliner. My recommendation is to not use a waterproof eyeliner as it is simply just more difficult to remove from the eyelid margin. Also, the oil in waterproof versions risk weakening the adhesive bond. In my experience, if eyeliner is more difficult to remove, it likely will not get removed over time. I encourage you to experiment with water based eyeliners until you find the right one for you.

Now for hygiene. With eyelash extensions, you cannot use an oil-based product as they will likely remove your extensions (unless that is your intention). Instead, use our tea tree eyelid foaming cleanser for a gentle wash to remove any excess eye makeup. Utilizing a q-tip with our tea tree foaming cleanser on the upper eyelid margin can encourage eyeliner removal without damaging your extensions as well.  Rinse with warm water. 

the semi-permanent false eyelash

I can’t begin to tell you how many patients I see that really believe that their falsies are MEANT to we worn until “it’s time for a new set.” There is no such thing as a semi-permanent false eyelash.  I repeat. There is no such thing!!  For the purposes of eyelid hygiene, falsies need to be removed after each use and the falsies themselves have to be thoroughly cleansed after each use. I’m about to get gross, but would you wear the same underwear for a month straight? I hope not. So why force your eyes to do it? 

So if you ever hear a girlfriend says she sleeps with here falsies on . . . it’s intervention time. Speak up and say that you read this blog and why. There is no such thing as a semi-permanent false eyelash. Why? Because an eye doctor said so. 


Dr. Gill

aka Gross Patrol


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  • Written by Tanya Gill

    Dr. Gill is also a member of the Ocular Surface Society of Optometry. In addition to her Doctor of Optometry, Dr. Gill also has a BA in Integrative Biology and a BS in Vision Science, both from UC Berkeley. Go Bears!
    In 2015, Dr. Gill developed and founded We Love Eyes, which is a green cosmetics company that produces eyelid and eyelash cleansing products that are natural, non-toxic, and vegan.

    More Articles by Tanya Gill

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