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Get to know: Eye Health with Expert Dermatologist

Get to know: Eye Health with Expert Dermatologist

As part of our #NLHaveItAll quest to educate the masses in lash and eye health, we have enrolled masters in their fields to bring you expert advice. With trusted experience and incredible knowledge these ladies will help us all to take great care of our eyes.

The next panel member in the hot seat is Justine Hextall, consultant dermatologist and fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. She trained for five years at St John’s Institute of Dermatology before taking up a consultancy in Arundel, Sussex where she is now the medical director. Justine is particularly passionate about taking care of ageing and sensitive skin, such as that around the eyes…Eye HealthWhat are your tips for optimum lash health?

A healthy diet and managing stress is important for hair and lash health. There are also steps that can be taken to protect existing hairs. I would recommend gentle cleansing in this area and applying nourishing serums that hydrate and add necessary proteins and vitamins in order to maintain healthy growth.

Are there certain times of the year where more lashes may be lost?

Yes, commonly in the spring and autumn. It is felt that warm weather triggers more hair fall, but there is often a delay before we see this, hence noticing thinner lashes in autumn.

More than 50% of lash treatment customers did not know what to look for when choosing the best place to go for a lash treatment – what advice would you give people?

In the first instance, safety is everything. Look for a salon where safe customer care is their priority and the use of reputable brands who also value safety above all else. Have a consultation and make sure you ask which products they use, what steps they take to protect your lashes and after care treatment. Word of mouth recommendations are ideal, but in the absence of that you could ask for customer feedback records.

Can lash extensions and treatments be effective in boosting the appearance of sparse lashes?

Yes of course, but it is very important how these procedures are done. It is important not to damage the lashes, not to use products that will irritate the area and after care that will nourish lashes. Some of the adhesives can contain well known allergens such as formaldehyde so it is important to look carefully at products being used in this vulnerable area.

Recent research shows lash treatment customers are driven more by the price of the treatment than the healthiest or safest treatment – what advice would you give people when selecting a treatment?

This is your precious eye area. if the skin in this area becomes sensitised with inappropriate product use, it can be very difficult to settle down subsequent skin inflammation or dermatitis. Chronic dermatitis in this area can cause temporary and sometimes permanent lash damage.

How important is it to remove eye make-up effectively?

Very important. Remember, in order to have good hair growth around the lashes or scalp the follicles need to be healthy. If make up is left to clog and irritate follicles, there will not be healthy growth. Infection and inflammation in the follicles are a common cause of lash drop. If the skin in this area is irritated or inflamed, we tend to rub our eyes. Rubbing the area frequently can cause eyelash drop.

What are your tips to removing eye make-up?

It is imperative to always be gentle with this delicate area of the face. The skin around eyes is thinner and more easily irritated than the rest of the face. I cannot emphasise enough, the importance of using a gentle hydrating cleanser in this area. Overzealous rubbing or pulling of eyelashes will cause them to drop and therefore an effective gentle cleanser to remove makeup without rubbing is very important.  Likewise, irritation and inflammation of the follicles will cause drop. In order to stop breakage, it is important to hydrate and condition lashes.

Are there any common irritants commonly found in cleansers and eye make-up removers’ consumers should avoid?

Avoid heavily perfumed products and alcohol-based removers as these can dry and irritate skin. Ideally you are looking for an emollient cleanser that will remove makeup, oil and dirt without stripping the eyelashes and delicate skin in this area. A cleanser should deliver some nourishment and hydration back in this area too.

How about any ingredients that are good for lash health that you should look out for, e.g. conditioning ingredients?

Hyaluronic acid and glycerine are humectants that hydrate the skin and lashes by attracting and holding onto water. Biotin is important for healthy keratin to strengthen lashes. Vitamins B5 and B6 also promote healthy lashes.What are the most common causes of natural lash thinning and loss?

Loss of hair or lashes is a common cause of anxiety in individuals. There are many causes, including alopecia areata where there is an autoimmune loss of hair. Other causes include inflammation that may be associated with infection, e.g. bacterial or yeast, or dermatoses such as eczema and psoriasis. Sometimes the eyelids become inflamed, this is called blepharitis and has many causes, again including infection and rosacea amongst others.

Sometimes individuals themselves pull out lashes in times of distraction or anxiety, and this is called trichotillomania. Hormonal imbalance, including thyroid dysfunction, can cause lash thinning and loss, and we also see a natural thinning and lash loss as we age. Sometimes medications can be associated with lash-thinning and loss including anti-thyroid drugs, cholesterol lowering medication and beta blockers amongst others.

Is it natural to lose more lashes as you age?

Yes, it is. In a similar way that our hair follicles on our head get smaller, the lash follicles do too. The thinner lashes are more vulnerable to breakage. Some follicles stop forming lashes altogether.

What about during pregnancy / menopause?

During pregnancy hormones stimulate growth of hair. Individuals notice thicker hair; glowing skin and some notice thicker longer lashes. As with scalp hair during and after menopause hair growth reduces. The anagen growth phase of hair on the scalp gets shorter, meaning hair becomes thinner and more easily damaged and broken. Similarly, with eye lashes, follicles become smaller, lashes thinner and sparser.

Are lash thickness and density affected by factors such as hormonal changes, stress and poor diet?

Absolutely – our skin, nails and hair including eyelashes reflect our health and diet in general.  Normally around 90% of our hair is growth, and 10% resting and falling. Pregnancy hormones can shift more hair into a growth cycle. Likewise, stress can cause a shift in the hair cycle in the opposite direction and cause increased hair fall.Over a third of the people we surveyed felt that eye area is important to women because the eyes are the first thing you notice about someone – what are your top tips for caring for this area?

Firstly, prioritise sleep. There is so much research now supporting the health benefits of quality sleep. Next, keep hydrated, as the delicate skin around the eye is the first area to show dehydration. Remember that the eye area is one of the most sensitive areas of the face, this is because the skin here is much thinner than other areas and lacks sebaceous glands. As such, it can quickly become dry and irritated with use of harsh products.

Avoid soaps and heavily perfumed or alcohol-based products in this area. Use a very gentle hydrating cleanser or eye make –up remover, and apply light yet effective hydrating products, preferably with humectants that attract water, such as hyaluronic acid or glycerine.

Active serums that contain antioxidants can protect against damage from UV and pollution. When applying moisturiser in this area it is important to choose products that are specifically formulated for the delicate skin in this area, preferably without common allergens such as some preservatives and perfumes.Looking for amazing lashes that put your lash health first? Search your postcode on our Salon Finder and discover a Nouveau Lashes certified lash artist near you!

Stay tuned for more interviews with our Expert Panel….