Every day, for a tantalizingly short while- four to six weeks at most- natural eyelashes can be transformed into stunningly long lash curls with just the right volume and sometimes, exploding in brilliant colors and decals. Indeed, eyelash extension is making a buzz in the beauty enhancement industry.
And then behind the astounding buzzword comes out a hideous myth about eyelash extension causing eyelash mites- microscopic creatures that breeds and feeds on you. Disgusting as it sounds, right?
Lash mites breeding under eyelash extensions is such a disturbing thought and as a lash artist, it probably is a mortal sin not to know the facts about these creatures and be put to silence when asked by your lash clients whenever the topic is brought out.
So here are few frequently asked questions and answers about eyelash mites:
What are eyelash mites?
Eyelash mites, or more scientifically known as Demodex mites, are tiny, cigar- shaped microscopic ectoparasites that thrive in the eyelash follicles. These are only about a third of a millimeter long and have four pairs of legs that make it easy for them to grip onto cylindrical objects like the lashes. There are two species of eyelash mite that can be present in human eyelashes: the Demodex folliculorum and Demodex brevis.
You can have a demodex infestation anywhere on your face, but the most common places are the cheeks, nose, chin, forehead, temples, eyelashes, and brows. They feast on dead skin and squeeze every last drop of oil out of it. This is how eyelash mites contribute to a natural cleaning mechanism. That’s why until there is an overgrowth or overpopulation, lash mites aren't really anything to worry about.
What causes eyelash mites?
There are three common determined causes of eyelash mites’ proliferation such as age, sanitation and transfer.
a. The prevalence of Demodex mites increases with age; they are detected in around 25% of 20-year-olds, 84% of 60-year-olds, and 100% of those over the age of 70.
b. Not cleaning your lashes regularly is another critical cause of lash mites’ overpopulation and unsurprisingly, most of us are guilty of. When lashes are not cleaned, dead skin and oil build up providing more food for these creatures and enabling faster growth and egg production. Failing to clean the lashes means offering a favorable environment for lash mites to overpopulate. Lastly, improper sanitizing make-up and eyelash extension tools are also contributory.
c. According to studies, eyelash mites’ propagation is very common in people who have a routine encounter with many people or the public such as medical staff. Eyelash mites can be transferred by coming into contact with people that have many of them or by the dust in the air that has eyelash mites’ eggs. In addition, sharing and using other people’s make- up kits without sanitizing is one easy way to pass these parasites.
So do eyelash extensions cause proliferation of eyelash mites?
The big answer is NO but not cleaning the natural lashes or eyelash extensions does. That is exactly the reason why cleaning eyelash extensions using good lash shampoos are very important not only to promote good eyelash extension retention but also regulate the number of lash mites in your eyelashes and stimulate healthy natural lashes.
What are the symptoms of eyelash mites’ proliferation in your eyelashes?
Because eyelash mites are microscopic, you won’t be able to see one crawling in your lashes for you to know that they’re there. Thus, the best way to detect that they’re thriving and increasing abnormally in number is the symptoms one will experience. The following are the possible symptoms to look out for:
- Irritation around the eyelid
- Crusty red edges on your eyelids
- Blurry vision
- Presence of flake-like particles
- Unexplained tearing of the eyes
- Worst cases experience eye pain
How to prevent eyelash mites overpopulating in your eyelashes?
Because age is inevitable, then the major prevention for eyelash mites to grow uncontrollably is through proper hygiene and sanitation. Cleaning the natural and synthetic lashes regularly including those make- up tools is a vital aspect in maintaining healthy lashes and keeping lash mites under control. Good lash shampoos that deeply cleanses lashes are now available in the market.
Changing face towels, pillowcases and bed sheets is also a plus not only in eliminating lash mites overpopulation but to overall skincare too.
It is also recommended to change mascara and other make-up products regularly to prevent contamination and spreading of bacteria among these items and into your eyes. It can also help to remember to be cautious in coming to contact with many people without eye protection.
Eyelash mites, in their normal number, are not something harmful and something to be alarmed at. But when they start to proliferate and reproduce at a high level, that’s when they become a threat to the health of the lashes and to the eyes.
And no, eyelash extensions do not cause these creatures to overpopulate. The lack of or deliberate neglect of proper hygiene and sanitation for the eyelashes is the most contributing factor along with age and weakened immune system.
As a lash professional, it is of equal worth to have knowledge on the proper care of the natural lashes and beyond beautifying them alone. After all, eyelash extension works around and depends immensely on the prior quality of the natural lashes.