Eyelash hypotrichosis is the name for thinning eyelashes. Many things can cause your eyelashes to thin. While you may hear about various home remedies, only a doctor can prescribe safe, effective treatment.

Eyelashes protect the eyes from light debris. They also act like sensors that warn the eyes of potential danger when objects come close.

Sparse or thin eyelashes fall under a condition called eyelash hypotrichosis. People with hair loss, called alopecia, sometimes experience the thinning of eyelashes.

If you’re trying to get longer and thicker eyelashes, there are several home treatments you can use.

A quick web search for “how to grow eyelashes” will yield a long list of home remedies. However, none of these remedies are scientifically proven, and in some cases they could even damage your eyes.

Some common home remedies not scientifically proven to lengthen eyelashes include:

  • Petroleum jelly: At least three days a week apply a small amount of petroleum jelly to the eyelashes before bed and wash it off in the morning.
  • Green tea: Apply cool, unsweetened green tea to the eyelashes with a cotton ball daily.
  • Olive oil with or without lemon: Apply a small amount of olive oil with or without lemon peel infused in it on the eyelashes at night before bed and wash it off in the morning.
  • Castor oil: Apply a small amount of castor oil on the eyelashes each night before bed and wash it off in the morning.
  • Aloe vera: Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel on the eyelashes before bed and wash it off in the morning.
  • Eyelid massage: Gently massage eyelids along the lash line.

The only proven remedy to lengthen your eyelashes is to carefully use medication.

Bimatoprost (Latisse) is the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that makes eyelashes grow longer and thicker. It was originally developed as a medication called Lumigan to treat glaucoma, but researchers found that eyelash growth was a side effect.

Your doctor can prescribe Latisse, which you apply regularly to the lash line of the upper eyelid (not the lower eyelid). It delivers full results when used daily for at least two months. Once you begin using Latisse, you must continue using it regularly to maintain the results. Otherwise your eyelashes will return to their previous condition.

Researchers say Latisse is safe and effective and carries minimal side effects for most people. Possible side effects include:

  • itchy and red eyes
  • dry eyes
  • darkened eyelids
  • darkened brown pigment in the iris (the colored part of the eye)
  • hair growth on the face around the eyes if medication is inappropriately applied to eyelids

It’s very important to keep eyelash lengthening medication — and other substances — out of the eye. The eyes are very fragile. Getting foreign substances in the eye can cause vision loss and, in severe cases, blindness.

Proper eyelash maintenance can improve the health of your eyelashes, making it less likely for them to break. This can make them appear longer and thicker. Some eyelash grooming tips include:

  • regularly brushing your eyelashes with an eyelash brush
  • washing your face and eyes with gentle soap daily
  • removing eye makeup at the end of each day

There are many types of home remedies that purport to help grow one’s eyelashes, but none are proven effective — or safe — except for the FDA-approved eyelash-lengthening medication Latisse. It’s very important to avoid putting potentially dangerous substances in or near your eyes. And if you use medication, you need to ensure you keep it out of your eyes to avoid side effects.