Chemo Side Effect: Loss of Eyelashes-Tips & Tricks to Get You Through

+ CV Skinlabs Team

Most of us know we may lose our hair during chemotherapy. What we may not be prepared for is losing hair in other places-like on our eyes!

“I am 4 weeks out from my last chemo, and my eyelashes are still leaving,” says survivor katyg.

“My eyelashes and brows did not fall out until AFTER chemo was over, around six weeks,” says survivor Cheryl G. “The eyebrows seem to grow faster than the lashes (per eye doctor, it takes about six to eight weeks for a new set of eyelashes).”

Chemo drugs can cause you to lose your hair just about anywhere, but eyelashes may arguably be the most difficult to deal with. “I had the chemo and in the process lost all my hair, eyebrows, eyelashes etc.,” says survivor Em. “Within 3 months of finishing the treatment they had grown back…. Well, it’s now 5 months since I finished chemo and my eyebrows and eyelashes are falling out all over again!”

The good news is that eyelashes usually do grow back, so the change is temporary. Meanwhile, what can you do? First, you can use false eyelashes, but check with your doctors and nurses. You could have an allergic reaction to the glue, and there’s also a risk of increased infection. The second option is to use make-up to re-create the look of full, healthy lashes.

To do the latter, just line the upper lash line and smudge it.  Then apply a gentle mascara, like non-toxic Afterglow Cosmetics mascara. It’s okay to use an eyelash curler on occasion but overuse can cause breakage and eyelash loss, so be careful. Find one with a rounded rubber. We love Shu Umera’s lash curler.

There may be a time, however, when you feel like you really need false lashes, like for a special event. If you know your immune system (and your sensitive skin) can handle it, and you’ve gotten your doctor’s approval, go for it! They can quickly transform your look. Today’s brands tend to look more natural than they did decades ago.

When putting on the lashes, measure them against your eyelid, and trim with a pair of sharp scissors so they fit just right. They should fall just short of the inner corner of your eye. It’s best to line the upper lid first-a liquid liner is preferable as it lasts longer and will help create a smooth line. Hold the lashes with a pair of tweezers (make sure they’re not sharp ones), then use a toothpick to apply a thin coat of eyelash glue to the base of the fake lashes. Wait a minute to allow the blue to become sticky. (Be sure to get clear clue, not black.) Position the lashes as close to your own as you can, and gently press down, starting with the inner corner and working outward. Hold the lash on your lid for 20-30 seconds (smooth as necessary). If you have lashes of your own, apply mascara to blend them with the false lashes. When you’re ready to take the false ones off, gently pull them, then use eye makeup remover to take off the glue and liner.

Some brands of false eyelashes are made especially for cancer patients, and come complete with eyeliner. Blinkies is one such brand, and their eyelashes are made of 100% sterilized human hair. Check out the pictures. They look really natural! Madame Madeline offers a 15% discount to cancer patients or survivors, and has several brands of false eyelashes. Headcovers also has 100% human hair lashes designed for cancer survivors. If the glue causes you too much trouble, you may want to try the self-adhesive lashes, which don’t require application of glue. (Revlon has some here.) If you use these, be sure to put lash adhesive on your hand first and apply your strip or individual lashes there before putting on your eye.

To help prevent lash loss, refrain from rubbing your eyes too vigorously. Use a natural eye makeup remover to gently clean your eyes. (One of our fave’s-Jasmine eye make-up remover). Heavy mascara-particularly waterproof brands-can also be too harsh on delicate lashes, so you may want to go with a more natural look for awhile. (Be sure to throw away old mascara that has gone bad, as it can also cause lashes to fall out.)

Did you lose your eyelashes during or after cancer treatment? How did you cope?

Photo courtesy of Snap Village.