16 Fixes For Sparse And Thinning Eyelashes
From surgery to DIY extensions, you’ve got a lot to choose from for flutterier fringe.
If the lashes you’re batting aren’t as full and long as you might like, we’ve got some good news: There are many ways to beef them up. Whether you’re looking for something temporary or permanent, subtle or dramatic, free or splurge-worthy, you’ve hereby stumbled upon a long list of tricks, tips, services, and products that can come to the rescue.
Debating lash extensions? Prefer an at-home solution? Wondering how to get the most out of your mascara? We’ve got you covered. Read on for 16 ways to score the fluttery fringe of your dreams.
Professional Eyelash Treatments
Sparse and/or thinning eyelashes can be the result of genetics, aging, damage, medical conditions, medication, or some combination. Similarly, there are a combination of therapies that can temporarily or permanently add volume, speed-up growth, and enhance color. Here are your professional treatment options:
1. Lash Transplant Surgery
The most dramatic measure for pumping up your lashes, eyelash transplants are a permanent but pricey option (think $2,500 to $6,000 per eyelid). During the procedure, hair follicles from a donor site (likely, the scalp) are transferred to the lash line. Like any hair transplant, it takes some patience to see results (think: six to 12 weeks). During that period, “lashes will go through a growth cycle when lashes appear to fall out, but they will return strong,” says Michele Koo, MD, a board certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon in St. Louis.
She cautions that eyelash implants are not suitable for patients with dry eyes, diabetes, or autoimmune diseases. Another note? Transplanted lashes are not without maintenance. “They will need maintenance with trimming because they are scalp hair and can grow in unexpected directions,” she adds.
Latisse® “is currently the only FDA-approved prescription-strength eyelash serum,” notes Jessica Weiser, MD, a board certified dermatologist and assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University in New York City.
How it works: “It contains bimatoprost — a prostaglandin analog used to treat glaucoma — which helps grow lashes longer and can also stimulate growth of new lashes with four to six weeks of consistent use,” she explains. Possible side effects include irritation at the application site and (rarely) changes in eye color. As such, it’s “always worth speaking to a board certified dermatologist to see if you are a good candidate,” Dr. Weiser says.
3. Lash Extensions
Lash extensions, in which faux fibers are glued onto your natural lashes, have become a go-to for women looking for a longer, fuller set. Curious? You can read about what it’s like to get them (and love them) from a first-hand perspective. Lash extensions are certainly a fan-favorite for their versatility, but they are not without side effects. Dr. Weiser warns that extensions can cause damage by putting pressure on your lashes. Additionally, some people find that they are sensitive to the glue. So, while they may be great for special occasions (i.e. a wedding), they are probably not the best route for long-term volume.
4. Lash Tints
Darkening your lashes with semi-permanent vegetable dye can help them pop — especially if yours are naturally light. It should be noted that there is some debate about the safety of the treatment, and professional lash tinting is only available in some states. But fans are devoted. Interest piqued? Read more about the pros and cons of lash tinting.
5. Lash Perms
Also known as lash lifts, these treatments are inspired by full-scale perms. A chemical solution is applied to the hair on a roller, which leaves lashes with a lasting, gentle bend. Note: Like lash tints, lash perms can be irritating to sensitive eyes and may not be available in your state. To find out more, check out our lash lift guide.
Your At-Home Lash Toolbox
If you are more of a do-it-yourselfer, there are plenty of lash-boosting products in the beauty aisle. During quarantine, one writer gave eight DIY lash-lengthening options a test drive (check out her before and after photos and honest reviews), and below we dive into treatments that provide both immediate and long-lasting benefits.
6. Lash Serum
We’ve been over how and why lash conditioners can help keep the lashes you have nourished, pliable, and happy, but allow Dr. Weiser to refresh your memory. “In the same way that we condition our scalp hair, lash serums can help hydrate lashes and improve the cuticle (outermost part of the hair) to make lashes appear healthier and shinier,” she shares. These over-the-counter options are not classified as medications in the way Latisse® is, which means they can’t make hair growth claims in the same way. Even so, you will likely see results. A few ingredients you might spot on the ingredient list: myristoyl pentapeptide-17, biotin, arginine, and bamboo. Try Fitglow Beauty Night Lash + Brow Serum.
7. Lash Primer
Think of eyelash primers as thickening base coats for your mascara, many of which are even packed with fibers to create the illusion of temporary extensions. Some mascaras (like Honest Beauty Extreme Length Mascara + Lash Primer) come with their own, but you can also look to standalone formulas (we’re fans of Tarte Opening Act Mascara Primer) if your favorite formula doesn’t have its own pairing.
8. DIY Lash Extensions
One big at-home lash offering making a splash is Lashify, a semi-permanent lash cluster extensions system that lasts up to seven days. With a patented bonder and so-called Fuse Control Wand, it’s easier to manage than it sounds — albeit with a little practice and patience.
9. Individual False Lashes
These little clusters of lashes get a lot of love for being easier to place than the full-strip type (more on those below!). Whether you’re new to falsies or a pro looking to further customize your look, individual falsies are a great place to start. Just make sure to allow the glue to dry for about 30 seconds after you paint it on (or until it’s tacky) before placing the lashes. The MVP of the category: Ardell.
10. Full Falsies
For folks who are a little more skilled with false lash applications, a full set of falsies will get you the most bang for your buck. The newest offerings, like those from LoveSeen (the brainchild of Jenna Lyons and makeup artist Troi Ollivierre), feature ultra-thin bands that better blend into your lash line for an ultra-natural effect.
11. Magnetic Lashes
A relative new-comer to the falsies category, many find magnetic lashes (which adhere via magnets instead of glue) to be less intimidating and easier to manage than the traditional type. Some, like One Two Lash, sandwich your lashes with magnets, while others, like the Eylure ProMagnetic Magnetic Eyeliner & Faux Mink Wispy Lash System, work by sticking to magnetized eyeliner.
12. Dramatic Mascara
If you have sparse lashes, a formula that is both thickening and lengthening will be your best friend because it adds heft in every possible way. Celebrity makeup artist and Blighlighter creator Jamie Greenberg tells us that her favorite is Thrive Causmetics Liquid Lash Extensions. Since it also happens to be a tubing mascara, you can rest assured it won’t smudge.
13. Eyelash Curler
A tried-and-true beauty tool for a reason, an eyelash curler is a must for anyone battling lash sparseness. If you’re looking for a new favorite, Makeup Geek just launched a budget-friendly curler that features ultra-soft, durable pads to protect fragile lashes (and eyelid skin). We call that a win-win-win.
Whether you like volumizing mascaras or smudge-proof tubing formulas, the way you apply it — especially in combination with some of the faux fringe options covered above — can be an instant boost to sparse and thinning lashes. Below are a few #protips to level up your eye makeup game:
14. Sandwich Falsies
To make faux lashes blend seamlessly into the natural lashes, Greenberg offers this: “I like to apply mascara first as a strong base for the lashes, then add the fake lashes and let the glue dry, and then coat one more layer of mascara to fuse the fake with the real.”
15. Build, Build, Build
To get clump-free coats, it’s all about applying thin layers. First, start with a good primer as a base. Next, it’s time for mascara. “Make sure to wipe off any excess on the actual applicator before applying,” Greenberg notes. “You want to make sure that you’re applying a small amount and building, rather than putting a lot on top of a lot.”
When you’re not going for a full eyeliner effect, smudging just a hint of eyeliner into your lash line will make them look subtly fuller. “The key is getting as close to the lashes as possible,” Greenberg shares. That means wiggling the pencil, powder, on ultra-fine mascara (we’re fans of the multipurpose It Cosmetics Tightline Lash Defining and Lengthening Black Mascara Primer) into the base of your lashes or even underneath them.
All products featured are independently selected by our editors, however, AEDIT may receive a commission on items purchased through our links.