Eyelashes are the frames that draw attention, and add to the beauty of our eyes. When they’re shorter, or too thin, most of us reach for the mascara; some of us even go the extra mile and apply prosthetic lashes. But there are some natural options to help you get the long, full look that you want without the need for jeopardizing the hygiene, or health of your natural lashes, and without the icky, sticky mess that can come from trying to glue on false lashes in a hurry.

Of course there are factors, like age or genetics that play a role in the length and growth of your eyelashes. Even hormonal changes can result in thinner lashes. But, there are other factors that we have control over that lead to the same issues, like nutritional deficiencies, and failure to remove eye makeup properly at the end of each day. The first thing you need to do to encourage natural eyelash growth is to start a daily routine that includes removing all eye makeup, especially mascara without rubbing your eyelids with too much force.

Using a gentle cleanser, such as coconut oil, will aid in removing makeup and any other dirt from your sensitive eyelids while providing moisture to the lashes, and antibacterial properties that will help keep away potential eye infections, like styes, that can be responsible for loss of eyelashes. Remove any remaining oils or debris from your skin by going over your face with a mild cleanser after using your makeup remover. When you get to your eyelids, just let the cleanser brush lightly over your eyes, as they should be pretty clean already, but the extra precaution never hurts!

Just as you’ve heard that brushing your hair can aid in growth, brushing your eyelashes can stimulate eyelash growth by encouraging circulation that will bring nutrients to the follicles of your lashes. Find a soft bristled eyelash comb or brush, and comb the lashes in an upward motion. Not only will this free any trapped dust particles from the lashes, but it will also aid in diminishing those loose lashes that often end up stuck to your eyeballs at the worst possible times. Start from the root of the lash and brush slowly to the tips for several minutes twice each day. If you like, you can add a dab of Vitamin E oil as you comb for extra nourishment.

You can also massage your eyelids to promote blood flow to the follicles of your eyelashes. As with brushing, improving blood flow means more nutrients get to those hungry follicles, resulting in longer, thicker lashes with less breaking. Try using a few drops of oil, aloe, or shea butter on your fingertips (make sure you wash your hands first), and massage along your lash line and eyelids for about 5 to 7 minutes in small circular motions. Do this twice daily and in no time you’ll start to see improvement in the length, and volume of your eyelashes.

Although preparing this next mixture can take a couple of weeks, once it’s ready, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the increased volume of your lashes within just a few months. Lemon peels are soaked with folic acid, vitamins B and C, and tons of other nutrients that stimulate growth of your eyelashes. Take about a tablespoon of dried lemon peels in a container, and pour enough olive oil over them to soak the peels. The lemon peels will actually be helpful to the oil in cleaning your lashes, while also enhancing the oil’s natural ability to stimulate lash growth. The mixture will have to sit for a couple of weeks before you can use it, but once it’s had time to adequately infuse, you can use a cotton swab, or an eyelash brush to apply it to your lashes just before you go to sleep at night. Wash it off in the morning, and you’ll start to see results after about 8 to 12 weeks.

While you’re waiting on your lemon peel mixture to be ready, you can simply use the olive oil at night. Olive oil is filled with oleic acid and vitamin E that is known to nourish your lashes, while adding volume and keeping those eyelashes dark and moisturized. Adding a dab of castor oil will stimulate follicles while fighting microorganisms that tend to hinder the natural growth of eyelashes. You can mix in Vitamin E oil or pure Aloe Vera gel for added nutrition that can lead to the thick, luxurious lashes you’ve envied in the past. Allow the oil mixture to remain overnight, and wash with lukewarm water in the morning.

Don’t forget that, aside from applying nutrients directly to your lashes, you can always add foods to your diet that promote hair growth, giving your body the chance to send much needed nutrients directly to your lashes through your bloodstream. And what’s even better, is that your hair and nails may benefit from these foods, too. Iron and protein are excellent for hair growth, in fact, without lean proteins, your hair will stop growing altogether.

Lean proteins, like poultry and sources of iron like meats, leafy greens (especially spinach, which is also rich in beta carotene, folate, and vitamins A and C), and certain cereals will keep you on the fast track to longer lashes. Foods that promote blood flow and circulation, like Greek yogurt, and cinnamon are great choices for keeping hair follicles healthy, while omega-3 fatty acids found in Salmon can promote fuller, shinier looking hair and those containing vitamin C in high doses, like Guava, can prevent breakage. Adding a few of these foods can greatly improve your efforts to grow your eyelashes naturally.

Is it possible to promote eyelash growth naturally? Absolutely! It can be as simple as adding some needed nutrients to your diet, or applying natural oils to your eyelashes. Taking these steps will lead to the thick, long lashes you’ve often envied without the need for applying false lashes with harsh glues, or thick, goopy mascara that is apt to give you raccoon eyes at the first sign of moisture in the air. Say good-bye to messy alternatives, and hello to your own thick, gorgeous eyelashes.

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Judy Greenway