Believe it or not, even though we all love a set of long, luscious eyelashes, we knew very little about what exactly our eyelashes are for until recently.
A recent study has answered this mystery: They exist to protect our eyes from drying out. Scientists performed a series of tests on mammals who have eyelashes, conducting wind tunnel experiments and complex air flow studies. They found that eyelashes slow down the air around the eyes, reducing evaporation, and hence, helping to prevent the eyes from drying out too fast.
Longer is not always better
Another interesting fact revealed in the study is that eyelashes perform their function the best when their length measures one third the eye width. At this length, they effectively create a stagnation zone above the eye surface, decreasing the sheer stress caused by wind. Conversely, eye lashes which are too long have the opposite effect: they can channel air flow towards the eyes, causing them to dry out faster.
How These Facts May Affect Us
The study reveals that even very short lashes will protect us from dry eyes. Conversely, if you put on false eyelashes which are too long, you may risk having your eyes dry out faster. This is especially true if you are wearing contact lenses, which also increase the risk of dry eyes. Hence, remember if you are a contact lens and false eyelash wearer, remember to always have your eyedrops ready to remedy any dry eyes, which, if left untreated, may cause inflammation, and even irritation.
Eyelash Aesthetics: The Ideal Eyelashes
We associate long, thick eyelashes with femininity and attractiveness. The late Elizabeth Taylor was always admired for her beautiful eyelashes. In fact, she was born with Distichiasis: a condition which gave her double rows of eyelashes! False eyelashes are an easy way to obtain E.Taylor-esque lashes. More recently, Latisse, an FDA approved medication allows you to literally grow your eyelash length by up to 25% with continued use!
Fortunately, there is a correlation between aesthetics and functionality: while long eyelashes are beautiful, too long, and you will look strange. In my opinion, the ideal eyelash length is between 50 – 80% the width of the eye – Never longer. Eyelash hair density should be sufficient, with no gaps in between, to give a dark, full and thick, appearance. Finally, the perfect eyelashes are upturned so that they frame the eyes, but do not obstruct the eye aperture. A good mascara such as Bare Escentuals Buxom Lash Mascara will work wonders to give upturned, thicker eyelashes.
The eyes are the windows to the soul, and the eyelashes- the frames to the windows. A good frame will enhance the eyes, making them look more youthful and lively.
Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eye (Guillermo J. Amador , Wenbin Mao , Peter DeMercurio , Carmen Montero , Joel Clewis , Alexander Alexeev , David L. Hu)
DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2014.1294 Published 25 February 2015 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2014.1294)