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10 Everyday Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Eyelashes

Don't let these common mistakes get in your way of long, luscious lashes!

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Sleeping with makeup on

We get it—nobody feels like washing their face after a long day, particularly struggling with stubborn waterproof mascara. But keeping your makeup on while you sleep not only leads to breakouts, but is also a top cause of eyelash damage. One of the ways mascara works is by making eyelashes stiff, so they are incredibly prone to breakage once it’s on. Hitting the bed with the formula on crunches your lashes against the pillow surface, and they may break in the process because of their already brittle state. Sharon Lipetz Gjieli, owner of Makeup By Lips LLC, shares, “Always have makeup wipes or makeup remover in your nightstand for the lazy nights when washing your face just isn’t an option.” As a rule of thumb, if you invest a lot of time into applying makeup, be sure to invest the same amount of time into taking it off. (In case you’re wondering, this is how bad it really is to sleep in your makeup).

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Curling your lashes after applying mascara

Who doesn’t love curling their lashes? One squeeze with the magical contraption and your eyelashes instantly look three times longer. But you must, must, must curl them before you swipe on mascara. “In general, if you’re using eyelash curlers, then you must use them correctly–before you apply mascara and not too close to the lash rim. This will damage the eyelash cuticles and cause lash breakage,” Sabah Feroz of Blink Brow Bar advises, If you’ve been confused as to why there are so many lash strands stuck between your curler, now you know. Find out the mascara hacks you’ll wish you had known all along.

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Eyelash extensions

Although eyelash extensions are definitely a shortcut to long, lush enviable lashes, don’t indulge too often and always go to a reputable salon. “I refuse to put on a lash extension that is too heavy or too long for a natural lash,” shares Talin Haghnazarian, licensed cosmetologist. “You can cause permanent damage to your follicle or cause the lash to prematurely fall out.” If you want longer lashes in the long term, consider using Latisse, which is approved by the FDA, for longer, thicker lashes. Ready to try lash extensions? Here are the 10 things you need to know before your first appointment.

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Rubbing your eyes

Many girls can attest to this habit; after all, it’s just so darn satisfying. Even so, it may be best to sit on your hands next time to get the urge. Rubbing your eyes too vigorously can damage your entire eye, eyelashes included. Being gentle when it comes to anything with the eyes is key—also keep that in mind when scrubbing away mascara and drying your face. Learn about more body parts you should never touch.

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Using expired eye makeup

Time to clean out that battered makeup bag you’re hoarding (and yes, makeup does expire)! Even when it’s possible to scrounge out more makeup from that old tube, don’t. Old mascara can harbor harsh bacteria, which in turn can spark lash loss, damage, and infection galore. “Rule of thumb for mascara/eyeliner is to replace every three months, tops. If your eyes are constantly watery/itchy, consider swapping your mascara or eyeliner—they might be expired,” notes Gijeli. “If the problem persists, definitely speak to an ophthalmologist about it; it could be allergies or an eye infection.”

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Heat isn’t your body’s friend (at least when it comes to beauty). It can dry your skin out, make your hair feel like hay and yes, harm your lashes. If you’re using heated eyelash curlers or your blow dryer to warm it up before using, stop now. Intense heat can break down those lash hairs and weaken their foundation.

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Ripping off false lashes

It’s the end of a special night out, and you can’t wait to get those falsies off so you can remove your makeup and crash. But rip them off, and you may take some of your precious natural lashes with them, says Kate Stromberg, celebrity makeup artist at COLOR Salon in Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. The gentlest way to remove them is to soak a Q-tip in an oil-based cleanser to loosen the adhesive on the lash line. “Then gently pull from the middle of the falsie outward to protect yourself from serious damage.”

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Tinting your lashes

These trendy treatments are great for enhancing your natural eyelashes, but be careful not to misuse or overdo it. Some of the most powerful chemicals (and three of the top five contact allergens in adults!) can be found in these dyes: p-Phenylenediamine (an ingredient in almost all black hair dye and black henna dyes), formaldehyde, and fragrance. Frequent exposure to these can make you lose all your lashes permanently, or, worst-case scenario, trigger blindness. Save the treatment for special occasions only.

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Wearing waterproof mascara on the reg

While everyone loves the idea of being smudge-proof all day long, waterproof mascara is one of the hardest products to remove. These powerful formulas, when used daily, can impose unnecessary stress to your natural lashes and cause additional breakage when trying to scrub it off. According to Stromberg, “Over time, vigorous removal can tug and pull on your lash line, causing them to weaken and break. Instead, opt for a tubing mascara containing flexible polymers which require only warm water to remove.” One we like is IT Cosmetics Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara. Find out the makeup remover beauty experts swear they couldn’t live without.

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 Sharing mascara

While it may seem harmless at the time, swapping cosmetics, even with your bestie, can lead to some ugly consequences. Makeup tools are constantly gliding across oily skin, chapped lips, and germy lashes, so it’s clearly not the most hygienic of practices. Mascara in particular is an optimal breeding ground for bacteria; its wet formula and dark containers allow germs to procreate rapidly.

Hana Hong
Hana Hong is a journalist/storyteller who writes for Reader's Digest, InStyle, CollegeFashionista, Her Campus, and The Fashion Network, among other publications. She hails from the midwest, where she graduated from the University of Illinois with a BA in News-Editorial Journalism, but has a passion for the East Coast.