During this enforced break from the lash bar, we’ve got coping strategies for you. From how to deal with brittle, stubby eyelashes to primers and mascaras to ‘grow your own’, extension addicts pay attention…

Any products in this article have been selected editorially however if you buy something we mention, we may earn commission

If you’ve tried eyelash extensions, even just the once, you’ll be well aware that any mascara purporting to imitate their thickening, lengthening and general lush-making effects can jog on. There are sensational mascaras in this world ( see here  and below), but none can effectively double your lash count or change the shape of your natural lash fringe (we’re still waiting for ‘cat’s eye in a tube’). It’s a fact of life that has more and more women and men setting up camp in their local lash bar twice a month, as eyelash extensions are, in essence, the Pringles of the cosmetics industry: once you pop it becomes increasingly hard to stop. Long, fluttery lashes that require zero makeup to look good on the daily will always be irresistibly moreish.

Like the odd savoury snack session, eyelash extensions aren’t damaging in themselves, and some argue that they can help to preserve your natural lashes seeing as you’re not exposing them to the daily rigamarole of applying and potentially aggressively removing mascara, or, sin of sins, leaving mascara on overnight, either consciously or unconsciously (in the latter case take out an insurance policy by getting yourself an irreproachable eye makeup remover).

This logic is dependent on a host of factors including where and how lashes were applied, plus the dimension, weight and length of the extensions themselves and whether you’ve taken good care of your eyelash extensions , but even the most naturally bushy lashed among us can feel as though we come up short once our eyelash appendages have fallen out or been removed. A friend of mine declares that she looks like a boiled egg without hers, while another is caught in a costly lash extension cycle that teeters her into the red each month but away from which she feels her natural lashes may be unworthy. That’s before we’ve taken on the quite literal fallout of picking, tugging or trying to remove lashes yourself (never ever ever ever), or having a cowboy apply them in the first place (steer clear of ‘too good to be true’ deals, precarious set-ups in dingy premises and anyone peddling weighty, pre-glued cluster lashes).

Little to no definition can be quite the shocker when you’ve been used to waking up to doe eyes every day

Eyelash extensions are an eye-opening and wonderful invention, but we shouldn’t feel insignificant or bare boiled egg face-y without them. It quite literally pays to take a break every now and again, and the lash extension layoff will allow you to rediscover an awesome mascara or give fragile eyelashes the TLC they need. Here’s your rehab programme…

We’re on a break

If you feel that extensions could be compromising your natural eyelashes, lockdown is your window to nurse them back to health. Leading lash expert and resident lash specialist at  Mayfair’s Nail & Brows  Min Jang prescribes some R&R:

“I recommend introducing a results-driven lash serum  or a more affordable natural alternative such as castor oil. Rosemary oil is also a good option. Brush it onto lashes with a clean mascara wand (try these nifty spoolies ). You should also take care when removing or applying makeup to not put too much pressure on the lashes or eye area. Avoid vigorously rubbing to remove makeup, but this advice stands no matter how strong your lashes. It will take some time for dry, split or broken lashes to recover, but as you progress through the eyelash growth cycle, you should notice your lashes returning to full fitness.”

Try: The much-hailed  Revitalash Eyelash Conditioner , £50 for 1ml, if you’ve got the funds, or the centuries old (significantly cheaper) castor oil option- Pukka Castor Oil  is currently £9.99 for 250ml, but that doesn’t mean you should douse it on. Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto  confirms that it is does have hair growth promoting potential , but can also cause irritation and inflammation if excessively applied. Use Min’s method and only use a minute quantity at a time, always ensuring that your applicator is sterile, or trace above the lash line with a clean finger.

A little ‘something something’

To comprehensively de-stress your eyelashes, some experts would recommend a total extension and makeup detox, and while mascara can occasionally be drying and make lashes feel more brittle, cooling it completely isn’t really necessary, plus little to no definition can be quite the shocker when you’ve been used to waking up to doe eyes every day. Get back in touch with what your eyelashes actually look like while giving them a hint of a tint that won’t go ‘racoon’ on you.

Try: Perricone MD No Mascara Mascara , £25, was pretty much invented for post-extension recuperation.

It’s a kind of aubergine brown shade, which sounds wacky, but will help to make the whites of your eye look brighter and give lashes colour and intensity without looking stark. There’s a dual-sided comb to build length or separate according to your lash-look preferences, and care-wise you’ve got neuropeptides and biotin intended to foster hair growth (although the scientific jury are still somewhat on the fence there) and a fragrance-free formula that won’t provoke irritation. What’s more, it’s easy to remove, which is half the battle in the campaign to avoid lash loss.


Try to avoid the knee-jerk reaction of calling your lash technician as soon as you’re faced with a sparser lash line-up than during the heydays of your extensions. There’s some nifty eyelash underwear that can help to beef up what’s there naturally- Min recommends one particular formula in particular:

Mascaras with fibres  that temporarily adhere to lashes are the most convincing for giving the illusion of thicker lashes.”

Try: LashFood Eyelash Extensions in a Bottle , £39.20.

You can see what they’re going for here, but this two-step fibre mascara creates length and oomph from the off, while peptides are intended to care for your eyelashes during wear. If you’re not a fibre fan (they can be an acquired taste owing to their cotton-like texture), build your lashes from beneath with Clinique Lash Primer , £15.50.

The slick formula combs through lashes without clagging or clumping and provides a smooth and volumising ‘base coat’ for mascara to follow. Speaking of which…

Make good with mascara

Chances are that during the era of extensions mascara became superfluous, but finding a top notch wand to make up for the lack of faux-lash back-up can make it far easier to resist the lure of the lash bar, and while it does take a minute to apply in the morning, it’s fairly low maintenance compared to coordinating a lash infill schedule and having your eyelids tended to for hours on end.

Try: The modern lash crack of beauty editors everywhere:  Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara , £22.

I’ve harped on about this superior sooty-lash maker since it launched, and I think I may continue to do so until kingdom come. I’m yet to find a mascara that tops it for jet-black intensity, thickening, curling and lengthening in one and a failsafe no-flake formula that also dissolves nicely on contact with eye makeup remover. A word on which, if you’re looking to handle your lashes with kid gloves, go for an eye makeup remover formulated for sensitive skin and eyes .

The extension stand-in

You’ve found yourself back in that tilty lash bar chair again. Whoops. Getting back onto the extension train isn’t your only option here, as Min will remind you:

“A Yumi Lash Lift  is a good option for really making the most of natural lashes. It will give you the length, lift and volume you crave and results can last between six and eight weeks.  Strip lashes  are another good option for special occasions if you want an immediate result at home. When putting them on it is important to apply them to the lid rather than your natural lashes as you can damage your own lashes when removing them at the end of the night.

“If money is your main concern and you really can’t resist extensions, consider just booking in for infills (as long as you see your lash therapist regularly), which works out as more economical option than a full or half set of lashes.”

Just allow yourself to be at peace with your actual eyelashes. Go old-skool, reacquaint yourself with a lash curler, a stellar mascara and possibly a primer or swanky serum if you’re feeling fancy and your perception of what you’ve already got may just shift. You don’t need lashes on your lashes for them to look brilliant.

The best solutions for small and sparse lashes