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Is There an Ideal Lash Length? Science Says Yes!

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You flutter them to give your little ones tickly “butterfly kisses”. You wink them and look up from under them when you’re feeling sly or flirtatious. You catch them when they fall and blow them from your fingertip, eyes closed, to make a wish. You turn to Latisse to make them grow thicker and longer. But what, exactly, do eyelashes do? And how long are they really supposed to be?

In a study published by the Journal of the Royal Society Interface in 2015, a team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology led by Dr. David Hu, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology, offered answers to both of those questions. The team studied 21 different mammals including humans, and developed a wind tunnel simulation that let them re-create the protective effect of eyelashes of different lengths.

So what did they discover? It turns out that one of the main jobs of eyelashes is to control the flow of air around the eye, “catching” and deflecting air currents so that the surface of the eye stays moist. Further, it turns out that size does matter—lashes that were too short weren’t effective enough at protecting the eye, while lashes that were too long would actually draw more air towards the eye! The perfect average length, they found, was about one-third the width of the eye opening. Human eyes are about ¾ of an inch wide, so our ideal lash length is roughly a quarter of an inch.

That doesn’t sound like very much, does it? But before you give up on your dreams of luxuriously long lashes, listen to what researcher Alexander Alexeev, associate professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering at GIT, had to say about it: “Even if they're not the correct length, more eyelashes are always better than less. If fake eyelashes are dense enough, they may give the same overall effect in protecting the eye even if they are longer than one-third.”

You heard that right. If long lashes are also thick and dense enough, they can still protect your precious peepers! Thank the camel for that conclusion—the team speculated that the camel’s two rows of eyelashes gave it extra defense against the dry, sandy desert air. Even though Dr. Alexeev was talking about false eyelashes, the same idea applies when it comes to using Latisse lash growth treatment to get longer, thicker lashes that are with you 24/7.

If you’ve always had sparse or short lashes, or you’ve noticed your lashes thinning (something that’s common as we get older), talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for Latisse. If you’re already a Latisse user, know that once you reach your maintenance phase, your lashes will remain at about the same length and thickness as long as you continue treatments. Thanks to the GIT research team, you can enjoy not just the beauty benefits of lush lashes, but also knowing that you have extra defense against too-dry eyes!

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