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    Is it necessary to condition eyelash hair?

    Zoe Diana Draelos M.D.Eyelash hair is just like any other hair on the body requiring an intact cuticle for beauty.  Eyelashes have a very short anagen phase, accounting for their short length and the lack of need to cut the eyelashes.  This means they are shed before much damage can occur to the hair shaft making eyelash conditioners not as popular as hair conditioners.  Eyelashes also are generally not straightened, permanently waved, or dyed avoiding much of the chemical trauma scalp hair receives.  However, fashion has come to the eyelashes and eyelash conditioners are entering the marketplace.

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    A renewed interest in eyelashes has introduced a number of procedures that are damaging to the eyelash hair.  Heated eyelash curlers are available to curl the hairs upward creating the illusion of longer eyelashes.  Heat is damaging to all hair, eyelashes included, so women who use this device should apply a liquid eyelash conditioner at bedtime.  Eyelash conditioners are similar to hair conditioners, except that they are not washed away within a few minutes of application.  They are removed from a mascara type tube and painted on with a thin pointed brush.

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    Another reason to use an eyelash conditioner is the use of drying eyelash cosmetics.  Waterproof mascara requires a special solvent for removal and this solvent can dehydrate the eyelashes by removing the protective sebum coating.  Sebum is also removed with glues used to attach artificial eyelashes.  Sixties style full eyelashes have made a comeback and the adhesives can cause damage.  In general, it is not necessary to use an eyelash conditioner unless procedures or products are being used that cause eyelash damage.

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    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D.
    Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., is a consulting professor of dermatology, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, N.C. She is investigator, ...

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