The past few years have seen a noticeable increase in lash-enhancing products. From mink and silk luxury falsies to in-office extension and perming treatments, from dramatic fiber mascaras to prescription and OTC lash growth serums, there's a bevy to choose from. Basically, the goal is to give Marilyn Monroe's thick and sleepy lashes a run for their money and to create a breeze every time you bat your eyes.
Many seeking a way to intensify their lashes have turned to growth serums, in particular. They're arguably one of the easiest ways to add length and shine to your lash line, as they don't require repetitive extension treatments, and consistent usage may even allow you to forego mascara altogether. Never the type to slather our eyes with potentially harmful or unnecessary goo, we hit up some experts with pressing questions to learn about the positives, drawbacks, and efficacy of lash growth serums.
Prescription Lash Growth Serums
There are two groups of lash serums: prescription and OTC. As is often the case, the prescription serum is a more potent product compared to one you can buy straight from a retailer. Currently, there's only one prescription treatment available: Latisse.
"The active ingredient in Latisse is a bimatoprost, which works by keeping hair follicles in anagen, or the growth phase, longer," explains Dr. Warren B. Seiler, medical director at Seiler Skin Cosmetic Laser & Aesthetics Center. "This increases lash-growing time, and results in longer, thicker, and darker lashes."
Seiler says that Latisse can, in the most dramatic cases, quadruple the length, thickness, and darkness of the lashes, especially for those who have very short lashes to begin with. In fact, he says that patients using Latisse should stop once they reach their desired length, as extended usage can create lashes that are too long. Some doctors will recommend you continue usuage, but at a decreased rate.
It's clearly a powerful product, but the downside of Latisse is that it could potentailly cause eye irritation and even discoloration.
"Allergan, the manufacturer of Latisse, reports that permanent brown pigmentation of the iris is a potential side effect," says Seiler.
Ultimately, a conversation with a specialist to figure it all out is a wise move.
Over the Counter Lash Growth Serums
It seems that every other retailer offers a lash growth serum. These formulations range from all-natural, organic-based products to those using a smaller dosage of the prescription's key ingredients.
Some options include WINK, Peter Thomas Roth To Die For Turbo ($85; sephora.com), Talika Lipcoils Conditioning Gel, Chantecaille Faux Cils Longest Lash Mascara ($72, chantecaille), Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum ($10, ulta), and Givenchy Mister Lash Booster ($32, sephora).
"Different manufactures use different ingredients,” explains Slone Mathieu, Spa Director and Medical Aesthetician at Dream Spa Medical. "This can greatly impact whether the serum allows for longer lashes, or denser growth. The perfect product should give you a bit of both, without irritation or side effects. Safe ingredients such as peptides, soy proteins, and vitamins help promote growth; while hyaluronic acid, ceramides and antioxidants help protect from brittleness and additional breakage,” she notes.
Obviously, a pro is that you won't waste time in the morning with falsies, but a con, as Mathieu puts it, is increased sensitivity.
If you're worried about both OTC and prescription options, you could consider a completely different alternative.
"For clients who are looking for a more holistic approach to eyelash lengthening, we recommend Biotin supplements," says Alexa Nicholls Costa, co-founder of LexRx, a boutique medical cosmetics firm in Boston. LexRx offers Latisse to their customers, but the firm understands it's not the ideal choice for everyone. "Biotin supplements have natural growth properties for your hair, skin, and nails, and improves the foundation of keratin to help stop, and possibly even reverse, hair loss."
To conclude, we'll just reiterate that it's best to talk with a professional about any lash-enhancing serum or treatment you decide to use. At the very least, read through the ingredient list and put on your investigative research hat to make sure that you're using a safe product and that the pros are worth any potential downsides.
And when in doubt, you're only a set of falsies away from a Marilyn moment.