I Pulled Out All My Lashes With A Curler — Now What?

Photo by Erin Yamagata.
Every celeb may have over-tweezed their brows thanks to the '90s — we see you, Drew Barrymore — but we all know beauty horror stories can be a lot more dire. So we decided to ask Refinery29 staffers what their most cringe-inducing beauty blunder was — so we can tell them how to fix it.

First up, the eyelash curler of pain. Says one Refinery29 employee: "My hand slipped while using an eyelash curler and I ripped out a chunk of my inner lashes, and it was so painful! My eye was sore for the next week, and it took a few months for them to grow back. I will never use an eyelash curler ever again."

For many of us, it's our worst nightmare. You're going about your normal routine, curling your lashes, and all of a sudden you sneeze. Ouch. This might sound like the stuff of teen-movie drama, but it's an IRL problem New York dermatologist Francesca Fusco, MD, has frequently seen. So what do you do if you accidentally rip out your lashes?

Much like pulling out eyebrow hair, pulling out your lashes is painful — for a second. "I doubt it would continue to hurt unless you also damaged the skin," says optometrist Mika Moy, OD, FAAO, at the UC Berkeley School of Optometry, who also suggests a cold compress immediately following the unfortunate event. "If...you did actually damage the skin...you should see an optometrist."

Even if the pain disappears immediately, however, Dr. Fusco recommends avoiding eye makeup for the next few days. But fear not: After just a few weeks or so, the eyelashes should grow back on their own.

Of course, going even one night without any lashes might be annoying and more than a little embarrassing. "Eyelashes can grow notoriously slowly," says Carlos Puig, DO, a surgeon and the former president of the American Board of Hair Restoration Surgery. "Of course, it depends on what phase of the growth cycle the hair was in. They may grow back immediately, in a matter of five or six weeks, or they may take three months."

Most likely, you won't want to play the waiting game. Luckily, there are options available to boost your lash growth. The first recommendation is Latisse (also known generically as bimatoprost), the prescription, FDA-approved drug that has been clinically tested to enhance lash growth. "I've had hundreds of patients on Latisse," Dr. Puig says, noting that he's performed fewer lash-restoration surgeries in the past few years thanks to its effectiveness.

There is, of course, a plethora of other lash serums that you can buy over-the-counter — but the claims for many are less regulated. Back in 2011, the FDA called out RapidLash and other lash serums for posing as cosmetics (and being approved as such), when, in reality, they should've gone through the vetting process as drugs. It's likely, however, that these serums do not include bimatoprost, which Dr. Puig says is the only clinically proven drug to spur lash growth.

Still, some industry experts do recommend peptide-based over-the-counter serums, which may not make your eyelashes grow faster, but could keep them healthier — and thus longer, thicker, and more visible. "Latisse is the only product I'm familiar with that actually makes your lashes grow longer and faster," Dr. Moy says. "Other over-the-counter serums are lubricants and conditioners, formulated for people who already have lashes, but they might be brittle. The product then works to keep the hair healthy."

Castor oil and other remedies are also not clinically proven to increase lash growth, despite isolated stories of success. But once your lashes are a few millimeters long, you can consider eyelash extensions — carefully applied by a licensed technician, of course. You did just weaken your lashes, and extensions can cause even more damage if done incorrectly.

If you dare to touch a curler again, and want to avoid this snafu next time, makeup artist and educator James Vincent recommends that you avoid squeezing down hard on the curler. Instead, lightly press your lashes and move your curler upward and outward — and always, always, use a clean curler before you apply mascara.

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