By Erin Lukas
Updated Mar 23, 2017 @ 3:30 pm
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Whenever we see someone with long, full lashes we immediately assume they’re falsies or extensions. But thanks to lash-growth serums, it is possible to enhance your lashes by adding length and shine to the existing hairs on your lash line.

While there’s a bevy of serums to choose from whether you opt for a prescription formula from a dermatologist’s office or an over-the-counter tube, not all are created equal and won’t deliver the same results.

Before jumping in and slathering a serum on our lashes, we turned to the experts to find out the differences between formulas, potential side effects, and their efficiency.

Prescription vs. Over the Counter Serums

Currently, Latisse is the only FDA-approved lash growth treatment. In addition to the fact that a doctor needs to prescribe it to you, the formula is derived from a drug used to treat glaucoma, which has been found to enhance both the length and thickness of lashes. “Latisse works by interfering with the eyelash growth cycle using prostaglandin analogues,” explains Great Neck N.Y.-based dermatologist Dr. Jeannette Graf. “This prolongs the eyelash growth cycle resulting in longer and thicker lashes.

On the other hand, OTC serums tend to be more of a conditioning, repairing treatment for lashes. Usually these formulas are enriched with antioxidants and peptides like apple stem extract, biotin, and castor oil, to name a few. While these serums can help lashes appear fuller, it’s important to note that they won’t increase actual lash growth. “The length of lash appearance is different to each individual, but it is important to recognize that only prescriptions like Latisse will actually increase lash growth that will reverse once you stop applying the product,” says NYC-based Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank.

What Are the Side Effects?

While both prescription and OTC serums are safe to use for any skin type, Dr. Graf recommends avoiding them if you have blepharitis, an inflammatory condition of the conjunctival area where eyelashes originate from, or dry eye because the products could worsen symptoms.

The most common side effects include redness and irritation, which if you experience either, you should immediately stop using the serum. Discoloration of the skin around the eyelids is also a possibility. “It is important to note that some skin discoloration can be a side effect,” says Dr. Frank. “Therefore, it is important to always gently wipe away any excess serum on the eye lid.”

VIDEO: These Eye Creams Will Help You Look Like You Slept Last Night

When Will I See Results?

While each person is different, if you’re using Latisse, Dr. Frank says that doctors who’ve conducted studies have found that most people experienced 25% longer lashes, 18% darker lashes and 106% fuller lashes. Since Latisse has only been approved since 2008, its long-term usage is still being studied, but it’s suggested that you start with the serum once a day for six months, followed by twice a week. Both Doctors, say that since there’s no actual drugs in OTC serums, it’s hard to determine the effect of long-term usage. However, if you experience any side effects, immediately stop applying them.

It’s also important to be realistic with your expectations what the serum will do for your lashes. “When using Latisse, one may expect to regain the long, luscious eyelashes they may have had when they were younger,” Dr. Graf says. “If someone never had eyelashes, using Latisse will not create long lashes since they were never there to begin with.” The 11 Best Eyelash Growth Serums on the Market

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Image zoom Revitalash Advanced

Your dreams of mascara ad lashes can finally come true — without the use of falsies or extensions. Revitalash Advanced is the Rolls Royce of lash conditioners. Not only does the serum help lashes grow more lush, nourishing ingredients like green tea, ginseng, and biotin also shield lashes from external irritants to keep them from breaking.

Shop now: $150; amazon.com Courtesy

Image zoom Rimmel London Lash Accelerator Serum

Rimmel's lash-boosting serum is one of the best versions we've found under $10 — and it's lightweight enough to wear under makeup.

Shop now: $8; walmart.com Courtesy

Image zoom Vichy LiftActif Serum 10

Vichy's innovative serum is like a lash serum with a day job. The potent blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides boast serious anti-aging benefits for your eye area by diminishing crow's feet and fine lines, while natural plant sugars give your lashes a boost and restore moisture.

Shop now: $39; amazon.com Courtesy

Image zoom Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For Turbo Conditioning Lash Enhancer

Thanks to a blend of peptides, including Biotin, this serum enhances the look of lash length, thickness, and fullness. Over time, lashes will grow stronger so that you experience less breakage.

Shop now: $85; sephora.com Courtesy

Image zoom Talika Lipocils Conditioning Gel

While apple and soy sound like the makings of the next big health food trend, Talika has tapped into their nourishing qualities to serve up what we're dubbing green juice for your lashes. Natural elements like nettle, horse chestnut, and witch hazel stimulate eyelash growth as the soy lecithin travels into each hair follicle to deliver the active ingredients.

Shop now: $42; amazon.com Courtesy

Image zoom Milk Makeup KUSH Growhouse Lash + Brow Serum

Yep, cannabis seed extract can help improve the look of your lashes. The buzzy beauty ingredient conditions hairs so they're stronger, while quinoa and plant peptides boost thickness and fullness.

Shop now: $48; sephora.com Courtesy

Image zoom Lashfood Phyto-Medic Eyelash Conditioner

While many eyelash serums use a blend of wheat proteins as their active ingredients, Lashfood's green version leaves gluten, as well as parabens and synthetic fragrances, out of the mix. This treatment's blend of organic medicinal herb extracts stimulates your hair follicles to promote growth.

Shop now: $78; sephora.com Courtesy

Image zoom Diorshow Maximizer Lash Plumping Serum

We've often swept on a few coats of Diorshow mascara and wished the lengthening effect wouldn't wash away with our makeup, but the brand's innovative serum has made our dreams a reality. Swipe a layer on before applying mascara as a primer, or use at night to let the body-building soy proteins work their magic.

Shop now: $30; sephora.com Courtesy

Image zoom Shiseido Full Lash And Brow Serum

If you wish your lashes and your brows were fuller, Shiseido's serum is safe to use on both. On top of streamlining the number of products you're using, this treatment also eliminates a messy application. The flocked-tip applicator makes it easy to get to hard to reach spots without wasting any serum.

Shop now: $36; nordstrom.com Courtesy

Image zoom No.7 Lash Impact Lash Serum

If you're a lash serum rookie, No.7's version serves as a great starting point into the world of lengtheners and conditioners. After a few nights of use, you'll notice longer, darker lashes, with full results after eight weeks. Plus, thanks to the wallet-friendly price point, you can afford to stock up.

Shop Now: $10; target.com Courtesy

Image zoom Lancer Lash Serum Intense

There's no filler in Lancer's serum. Pumpkin seed extract, polypeptides, and biotin are among its greatest hits of ingredients that condition and strengthen the base of your lashes to boost volume and length.

Shop now: $150; sephora.com Courtesy 1 of 11 Advertisement