How many of us have lost sleep pondering why our beloved extensions fall off? The lash shed season of fall and spring is enough to make us want to pull our remaining hair out! We search for answers, question our lash artists and look sadly at the sink bowl as fallen soldiers slowly wash away. While there are many reasons our natural lashes shed, the main reason is our natural lash growth cycle.
To fully understand how this happens we have to get a bit ‘sciencey” for a second here! There are three phases in the lash growth cycle.
Anagen is the growth phase and is responsible for creating the length and thickness of the lash. This phase can last from 3-10 weeks! Because the lash is attached from the root to blood supply, in this phase the lash is nourished. The longer the lash stays in the Anagen phase the longer and thicker your lashes will become. Have you ever heard your lash artist mention that you have little”babies” growing in? These tiny growing lashes are in the beginning of the Anagen phases and are not ready to lash yet. Adding the extra weight of extension to lashes in this phase can cause strain to the delicate follicle. This is why we wait until the end of this phase or the next phase to apply an extension.
Fun Fact: Did you know that only 35-40 percent of the lashes on your upper lid are in the growth phase at any given time? This is why you don’t lose all of your lashes at one time!
Catagen is the transition/degradation phase. Once your lash has made it out of the Anagen phase it is no longer growing but not ready to shed yet. At this point your lash has reached its full and final length and remains the same until the following phase begins. The lash has detached from the blood supply and the follicle that holds the lash begins to shrink. The lash is no longer being fed and is in a holding pattern. This phase is typically shorter lasting only 2-3 weeks.
Telogen – the resting/shedding phase. The mature lash is getting ready to shed while a new “baby” lash is beginning to grow beneath. Can you believe that this phase can last upwards of three months? About half of the lashes on the upper lash line are in this phase at any given time.
Once you understand how complicated this growth cycle it is easier to understand why it is impossible to get consistency with each and every lash fill. For example, if your lashes stay in the Telogen phase for an extra 2 weeks you may have shorter lashes lasting for a longer time before shedding. If you have lashes staying in the Anagen phase for an extra two weeks you may have longer lashes that shed more quickly. There is no exact time frame for each phase and they can vary by day!
So why aren’t my lashes growing like they used to?
The million dollar question. Well, as we age the lash growth cycle slows down. The Anagen phase becomes slower therefore making it harder for the cycle to turnover. This is why younger girls tend to have longer and thicker lashes! They also tend to have better retention because their lashes don’t shed as quickly and stay in the first phase longer! I know, I know its not fair!! They get flawless skin AND better extension retention! Well think of it this way….you may need to get your refills done more frequently but at least you don’t have to text through Snapchat if you don’t want to.