2.4 The lash cycle

By this stage of the course you should be familiar with the anatomy of the eyelid and the eyelash (your new canvas!). Now, let’s take a close look at the lifecycle of the eyelash hair, otherwise known as the lash cycle. As a professional lash technician, it is critical that you understand and retain the contents of this lesson. Aside from the practical aspects of lash extension application that are influenced by the eyelash growth cycle, being able to properly educate your clients on this topic is an important aspect of managing your clients’ expectations and retaining them for life.

The circle of lash life

If you own a dog that is lucky enough to spend time inside your home, you will no doubt be aware of its tendency to shed its coat, especially in spring and autumn in preparation in for the cooler and warmer months. Many people will be surprised to discover that humans shed their hair in an almost identical fashion.

The three (primary) phases of the lash cycle

As with the hair on your scalp and body, eyelash hairs grow and shed (or fall out) in an ever-repeating cycle. The only difference when compared with the hair on other parts of the body is the length of the various stages of this cycle. The lash cycle consists of three phases:

  • Anagen phase: the growing phase, consisting of approximately four to ten weeks. During this time, the hair will continue to form via cell division in the hair root and result in the hair shaft (the visible component of the hair) extending further and further out of the hair follicle. In the previous two lessons, we discussed the characteristic of eyelash hair to grow much shorter than scalp hair (rarely exceeding 12mm in length). This is due to the relatively short length of the eyelash anagen phase (as mentioned, four to ten weeks) compared with that of scalp hair (3-7 years). Approximately 40 percent of upper and 20 percent of lower eyelashes are in the anagen phase at any one time.
  • Catagen phase: the transition phase, consisting of approximately 12 to 20 days. Following the anagen phase, the hair ceases to grow and the hair follicle shrinks in size and moves toward the surface of the skin. No pigment is produced during this phase of the lash cycle.
  • Telogen phase: the resting and shedding phase, consisting of approximately three to six months. As the name suggests, during this phase the eyelash hairs are simply resting within the hair follicle and not actively growing. During the latter stage of the telogen phase (sometimes referred to as a fourth exogen phase), the new hair has already begun to develop at the base of the hair follicle, and will eventually push (or shed) the old hair out of the follicle. As you can therefore see, there is an overlap of the late telogen and early anagen phase.

Seasonal lash sheds

As touched on, much like your furry canine friend and his or her coat, a greater number of our eyelashes will reach the end of their telogen phase and shed in spring and autumn. There is nothing you can do as a lash technician to prevent this natural occurrence, however, educating and informing your clients of this phenomenon will prevent them from assuming this avalanche of lash loss was your fault and either making contact with a complaint or, worse still, never making contact again!

We will discuss client retention and maintenance towards the end of the course, including recommended appointment intervals and rebooking schedules. However, it is worth mentioning now that it is wise to recommend more frequent infills during the spring and autumn to keep your clients’ lashes looking lush and full (and them happy!).