When Is Mascara Safe for Lashes After Chemotherapy? | MyBCTeam

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When Is Mascara Safe for Lashes After Chemotherapy?

Medically reviewed by Hailey Pash, APN-BC
Posted on August 7, 2023

“I was so upset when I lost my eyelashes during chemo,” one MyBCTeam member shared. “I had very long and thick eyelashes. I didn’t really care that I lost my hair during chemo, but I felt my eyelashes were a big part of me.”

If you’re like this member and lost your eyelashes during chemotherapy, you may be eager to start wearing makeup again, yet worried about the continuing effects on your lashes. As one member explained, “I started wearing a little bit of mascara, and I noticed my eyelashes falling out. I don't know if I am being paranoid or if the little bit of mascara is causing them to fall out.”

Here are some tips on when and how to start wearing mascara again after chemotherapy.

Regrowing Lashes After Chemo

Lash regrowth after chemotherapy varies from person to person. While some people experience eyelash regrowth shortly after completing treatment, others may take several months or even up to a year for lashes to regrow. Sometimes, eyelashes never regrow normally.

Chemotherapy can leave the lashes and the surrounding skin sensitive. The regrown lashes may be fragile and delicate, making them more likely to be damaged or broken.

“My eyelashes started growing once the chemo stopped, but they still fell out easily,” one member shared. “I could use mascara now, but I stopped. It’s just easier for me.” Another member said, “It’s been two-and-a-half years since finishing with chemo and radiation. My hair came back, and then my eyebrows. My eyelashes are still not back to the way they were before. I use a little mascara because my eyelashes are very light-colored.”

Check With Your Doctor

Before applying cosmetics after chemo, it is crucial to consult with a health care professional who can provide personalized advice based on your circumstances.

Your oncologist will assess your overall health and consider any ongoing treatments or medications that may affect the regrowth and health of your natural lashes. They can advise you on the right time to introduce mascara into your routine.

Your oncology provider might suggest easing back into using eye makeup slowly to see how it affects your lashes. Some MyBCTeam members have found that they’re more sensitive to makeup than they were before cancer treatment.

“I still can’t wear mascara because it burns my eyes so badly now, and they just water. It all runs off anyway,” one member said.

Make sure to follow sanitary makeup application tips to minimize the risk of damaging your regrown lashes. Avoid pumping the mascara wand in and out of the tube, as this motion can introduce bacteria and potentially contaminate the product. Instead, twirl the wand inside the tube to pick up the desired amount of mascara. Replace mascara every month and wash your hands before applying to reduce the risk of infection.

When applying mascara, use a light touch and start at the base of your lashes, gently moving the wand in a zigzag motion toward the tips. Don’t use too many coats or layer on excessive amounts of mascara, which can weigh down the lashes and increase the risk of breakage. Always remove mascara before going to bed to avoid irritation and keep your eyes healthy.

Consider a Patch Test

Before using any new mascara, you may want to perform a patch test to ensure you don’t have any adverse reactions. Apply a small amount of mascara on the back of your hand or behind the ear and watch for any signs of redness, itching, or irritation.

Dermatologists recommend applying the product to a test patch of skin twice a day for seven to 10 days. If you experience any discomfort or allergic reactions, don’t use that particular brand of mascara. You can shop for hypoallergenic products that are more suited for sensitive skin.

Caring for Your New Lashes

When it comes to using mascara after chemotherapy, patience and caution are key. Apart from using mascara cautiously, you should also avoid rubbing or pulling on your lashes, which can cause damage or cause them to fall out. Be gentle when removing eye makeup, using an oil-free and gentle makeup remover specifically formulated for the eyes. If you experience any irritation or discomfort while using mascara, stop using it immediately and consult with your health care professional.

In some cases, eyelashes don’t grow back fully. “I’ve been in remission for three years, and my eyelashes and eyebrows are still very sparse,” said one MyBCTeam member. “They just never grew back the same. I’ve been a licensed esthetician for over eight years, and I’m glad I was fortunate enough to be able to create eyebrows with makeup and apply lashes.”

If mascara doesn’t give you the look you want after breast cancer treatment, you can investigate other options. Over-the-counter lash serums are not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A prescription lash regrowth serum from your doctor or false eyelash extensions can give you a more full look. Just watch for sensitivities to the serum or glue. You can also meet with a makeup artist to learn how to apply eyeliner to your lash line or apply temporary lash extensions at home once your health care team feels it’s safe.

Talk With Others Who Understand

MyBCTeam is the social network for people with breast cancer and their loved ones. On MyBCTeam, more than 64,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their tips with others who understand life with breast cancer.

Did you experience a loss of eyelashes as a side effect of breast cancer treatment? How do you think mascara or other cosmetics affected your lash growth after chemo? Share your thoughts in the comments below, or start a conversation by posting on your Activities page.

Posted on August 7, 2023
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

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Hailey Pash, APN-BC , a registered nurse and advanced practice nurse, holds a Master of Science in Nursing from the University of South Alabama. Learn more about her here
Anastasia Climan, RDN, CDN is a dietitian with over 10 years of experience in public health and medical writing. Learn more about her here

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