Most of us have eyelashes and have had them since birth (they develop by the 7th month of fetal gestation) and so we don't often give them much thought. I invite you to take a minute and consider how healthy your own are. Healthy lashes are a first-line defense for the eye and keeping lashes healthy is a good investment in protecting your vision.
Greek for eyelash, blepharo is the root of blepharitis a common condition of eyelid irritation at the lash line. Healthy lashes play a vital role in keeping your eye safe from outside irritants (wind and dust) (which is why camels have such long lovely lashes) and further serves to warn of imminent eye contact. Although healthy lashes should be what we all aspire to have, fashion in many cultures considers long lashes a sign of beauty. Therefore many seek to achieve a long lash look. However if you've ever been the cultural attaché to the Hadza people of Tanzania you know, they clip their long lashes short as fashion in Tanzania demands. So if you're headed to Tanzania, you might want to finish reading this on your exodus flight.
But one thing they will have in common, they will taper without breakage to a natural wispy end. Your eyelashes shouldn't be suffering from much breakage because--unlike the hair on your head which grows for years--eyelashes only actively grow for about seven or eight weeks, then rest, and finally shed--all in about three months total.
Clean the eye area gently, thoroughly, and most important--consistently. If you wear mascara, remove it before bed, it's a hassle but very important for avoiding breakage, drying, and irritation. Mites and bacteria see mascara and the day's mascara-capture as a food source. Lashes with dried-on or heavy mascara plaque are less resilient to bending and will break more easily.
Keep hands and fingers away from your eyes and lashes, use a clean damp cloth to wipe the eye from the inner aspect to the outer aspect. Avoid picking at lash debris, this can cause infection and breakage. Instead, loosen and soften debris with a warm wet cloth and gently wipe away from the eye.
If you know mascara is responsible for your lash breakage or your eye irritation, consider a lash tint instead. Also, if your lashes are sparse, consider a lash fill by a cosmetologist or you can even visit a doctor for insight on lash transplants.
Eyelash curlers are great for making lashes look longer and fuller, but use with care because forcibly curling hair can lead to weakening and breakage.
It received media attention after the FDA approved it for cosmetic use as a lash-growth-enhancer and you can learn a lot more about it at Wikipedia (and also how it can permanently turn your iris brown). But the risk/reward ratio means we can't recommend it. We also don't recommend the use of waterproof mascara because it tends to leave more residue than water-soluble mascara and we really don't recommend any mascara with "extension particles" or any mascara that is described as "semi-permanent" because again, the risk outweighs the reward here. Mascaras that are high in particles and strong adhesives are also typically very irritating to the delicate eye.
We recommend triple effect by Almay which is a nutritive mascara. Nutritive formulas seek to feed the developing hair matrix for better growth. It also contains gentle conditioners which protect the lashes from breakage and help them maintain good flexibility and softness. This formulation can also be used on the eyebrow to encourage and strengthen brow development where needed.
If you think we're overreacting to eye products, consider that Maybelline's first mascara was a mixture of vaseline and coal dust which is one reason why the FDA exists.
The FDA offers a guide to the safe use of eye cosmetics and sanity rules the day. The chief purpose of your eyes is vision, not beauty. Healthy eyes aren't irritated eyes. Give yourself an honest self-assessment in the mirror and remember, a new set of pristine lashes is only 7-8 weeks away. Treat them right and your healthy eyes will tell a more beautiful story than just long lashes.