Eyelashes – how to define your eyes | Cancer Research UK
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Eyelashes – how to define your eyes

Some cancer treatments cause hair loss, which may include your eyelashes. On this page you can find


A video showing how to define your eyes when you have lost your eyelashes

Eyelashes help to define your eyes. If you’ve lost them, learning how to disguise this can boost your confidence and help you to look and feel more like you.

In this video we show you how to use make up to define your eyes. There are different products you can use. The basic principle of using the make up to define your eyes is the same.

View a transcript of this video. (Opens in a new window)


Tips for make up if you have lost your eyelashes

There are different types of products and each has its own pros and cons. There is information below on eyeliner pencils, eye shadows and gel eyeliners. Applying eye primer first can help make up to last longer.

Check with your doctor or specialist nurse before using any of these skin care products if you

  • Are still having cancer treatment
  • Have had treatment to your face or neck
  • Have had a skin reaction

Eyeliner pencil lasts a few hours. You can buy pencils that last up to 12 hours. With practice, it is relatively quick and easy to put on.  The skin here is very delicate so choose a soft pencil.

The colour you should use depends on your skin colour and the effect you want. Brown or grey are softer. Black gives a more definite, strong look. But there are other colours available.

Eye shadows are a quick, easy solution to highlight your eyes. You use them instead of a pencil. You can either use them as an eyeliner or apply it to the whole of your upper lid which will also define your eyes. They aren’t quite as long lasting as a pencil but are easier to put on. A matt, neutral colour will give a more natural look. You can buy some shadows that you can dampen and use as an eyeliner. If you are replacing your eyebrows at the same time, you can use the same colour. Apply it using an angled brush.

Gel eyeliner is more difficult to apply but lasts longer - about 12 hours. Put it on with a shadow brush or a small wedge brush. Don’t overload your brush. Just put the gel on using a few short strokes at a time. Eye gel dries quickly and you don’t have long to soften the line, so try to do that as you apply it. Don’t worry if you can’t do it in one stroke. Little strokes will be fine.  Put the lid back on as soon as you have finished, to stop the gel drying out.


False eyelashes

False eyelashes can be very difficult to put on and keep on. They can be especially hard to use if you have lost all of your eyelashes or have watery eyes. If you have any eyelashes left, taking off false ones can pull them out.

Cancer treatments can make your skin very sensitive. Some people find that eye lash glue irritates their skin. Check with your nurse or doctor before using it.

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Updated: 31 March 2014