What you've got - or not - above your eyes is big news in beauty right now, with Pinterest reporting a 152% increase in search around lashes.

Whether you’re an extension addict, love the LVL lift or prefer a quick swipe of mascara, most of us partake in some sort of lash enhancement, but do you extend the same effort to lash care? Here, lash experts reveal the four bad habits that could be ruining your lashes, and three golden rules to live by.

Bad habit #1: Wearing old mascara

Mascara is the staple of most of our make-up bags. Whether you go for high volume, or less is more, a lick of mascara helps our eyes look bigger, brighter and more youthful. But if you don’t replace it often enough what risks do you run?

“Infection, infection and infections” says optometrist Francesca Marchetti. “The lovely warm dark environment of a mascara tube is heaven for horrible, nasty bacteria. If you have an eye infection, it’s important to stop wearing eye make-up and ensure you throw away the make-up you’ve been using, as the bacteria can live in it for a long time. The irritated skin in this area then becomes itchy, causing us to rub our eye, which makes the lash drop even worse. Without eyelashes the eye will feel very sore, dry and uncomfortable and can lead to dry eye, as the protection mechanism has been affected.”

Bad habit #2: Harsh makeup removers

If you always remove your make-up before bed, you’re following the golden rule of skincare. But it’s worth double checking that you’re using the best remover for your sensitive eye area.

“If people are prone to sensitive skin, then the eye area will be even more sensitive,” says Francesca. “Avoid highly-perfumed eye lotions and potions. Watch out for the preservative chlorhexidene (CHG), which you should keep away from the eyes at all costs because it can cause irritation, inflammation and allergies. Choosing the right remover will help you wake up with bright eyes each morning so you can start your make-up routine from your best natural look.”

Bad habit#3: Failing to do your research

Shunning mascara in favour of lash treatments such as extensions or tints isn’t always the safest option if you haven’t done your research. According to a Nouveau Lashes survey of 1,000 women, just 16% consider the beautician’s competence before signing up for a treatment. The quality of treatment and technical expertise varies considerably from salon to salon, which means that if you don’t do your research you could be left with a nasty eye infection or lasting damage to your natural lashes.

“Cheapest is not the best but neither is the dearest”, says Francesca. “If imitation lash products are used that perhaps have not been tried and tested, they may damage yours, causing them to break off and fall out. They may also damage the hair roots, which cause the eyelashes to die off and not grow back.” Francesca recommends researching the safest type of lash techniques, checking the salon’s online reviews, and booking an informal chat with your lash technician before treatment.

Bad habit #4: Pulling out your lash extensions

Almost one in three women (29%) admit that they pull out their lash extensions instead of getting them professionally removed. But if you think that lashes will grow back, you may be in for a shock as Trichologist, Trisha Buller explains: “The lashes have a growth cycle and a resting phase, so by pulling out the lashes by force you’ll damage the follicles and possibly cause permanent lash loss. You will most certainly remove your own lashes and it can take weeks to several months for lashes to re-grow.”

Good habit #1 Look after your lashes like your hair

Just as you cleanse your hair with shampoo and moisturise with conditioner, you need to hydrate your lashes once you’ve cleansed your eyes of make-up.

Try: Nouveau Lashes Lash & Lid Foaming Cleanser (£14.99), which gently yet thoroughly removes potential irritants, while the aloe vera works to sooth and condition the eye area. Plus the innovative formulation’s antibacterial and prebiotic properties take care of lash and lid hygiene.

Good habit #2 Take care of your mental health

When life gets on top of us, our bodies can manifest stress physically. One such way is by triggering a condition called alopecia areata, which causes hair to fall out. We naturally shed between two & five natural lashes every day, but each lash takes two months to grow back after shedding so lash shedding can be really noticeable.

Good habit #3 Always remove makeup before bed

If make-up if left to clog and irritate follicles, you can cause infection and inflammation in the follicles, leading to eyelash drop. In fact, because it’s a particularly sensitive area, the skin can easily become so irritated that it develops into dry skin conditions, such as eczema and dermatitis, which can cause permanent lash damage.

Fiona McKim
Beauty Editor, womanandhome.com

 As woman&home's Beauty Channel Editor, Fiona Mckim has tried more products than she’s had hot dinners and nothing makes her happier than raving about brilliant finds on womanandhome.com or her instagram grid (@fionamckim if you like hair experiments and cute shih-tzus). Fiona joined woman&home as Assistant Beauty Editor in 2013 under industry legend Jo GB, who taught her everything she needed to know (learn about ingredients and employ extreme cynicism). She has since covered every corner of the industry, from interviewing dermatologists and celebrities to reporting backstage at Fashion Week and judging the w&h Beauty Awards.