Long, dark, thick eyelashes are often equated with beauty – and many people are seeking ways to achieve this look with the use of eyelash growth serums.
Perhaps the biggest question surrounding these products is: do eyelash growth serums actually work? The good news, according to our experts, is yes.
This article offers a glimpse of eyelash growth serums, including their overall effectiveness, how to use them for best results, how long they take to work and potential side effects, as well as the best and worst candidates.
We’ve obtained input from three experts for this topic, including a Licensed Esthetician in Southern California, a Board-Certified Dermatologist in New York City, and a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer in Austin, Texas.
- Do Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
- How Do Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
- Eyelash Growth Serum Studies
- Best Candidates for Eyelash Growth Serums
- Worst Candidates for Eyelash Growth Serums
- Potential Side Effects
- Product Recommendation
- Can Castor Oil Promote Longer Lashes
- Other Things to Consider Before Buying
Keep in mind that this article is not intended as medical advice. Some ingredients in eyelash growth serums might cause an allergic reaction, so it’s important to talk with your dermatologist or medical provider before using any kind of growth serum on your eyelashes.
Most people look for eyelash growth serums because of thinning or damaged natural lashes due to age or hormones, poorly applied eyelash extensions, or because they are unhappy with their natural lashes, said Kirstie Reese, a Licensed Esthetician and owner of Sugarface Skincare in Southern California.
Reese has been doing eyelash extensions and lash perms for more than four years, and she often recommends lash growth serums for her clients to use with their lash services.
“In my expert opinion, eyelash growth serums most definitely work,” Reese said. “They are amazing for people with damaged, thinning or short lashes.”
Eyelash serums are great for anyone seeking fuller eyelashes, and those with thinning lashes or damaged lashes from lash extensions, noted Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a Board-Certified Dermatologist specializing in cosmetic, laser and surgical dermatology in New York City.
“Eyelash serums are a great way of improving the length and density of eyelash growth,” Dr. Papantoniou said. “It takes several weeks to see results, but is worth the wait.”
The aging process leads to thinning and sparsity of eyelashes, said Dr. Ted Lain, a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas.
“Our society favors longer, thicker lashes as a sign of beauty, hence the two factors contributing to the popularity of these serums,” Dr. Lain said.
In addition, many will try eyelash extensions, which are glued on to existing lashes, Dr. Lain noted.
“This is expensive, time-consuming, and can lead to rashes or irritation of the eyelid skin, leading many to find alternative methods to grow lashes,” he said.
Many of the eyelash serums do actually help to grow eyelashes, Dr. Lain emphasized.
“They contain certain ingredients that trigger the hair follicle cells to work harder, and have other ingredients to promote the health of the eyelash skin and decrease bacteria,” he said.
Eyelash growth serums are made up of peptides, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients that make the natural lashes healthier and more dramatic with regular use, according to Reese.
Growth serums provide the proper nutrients needed directly to the roots of the eyelashes, Reese explained.
“Normally, we would get nutrients from our blood, but with our diet, our body may be using the nutrients for something more important than eyelash hair growth,” Reese said. “By applying growth serums topically, we can ensure that our natural lashes are getting the appropriate amount of nutrients in that targeted area.”
According to Dr. Papantoniou, the peptides in eyelash growth serums can help promote new growth.
“Ingredients such as biotin and keratin may help strengthen the new hairs as they grow as well,” she said.
Dr. Lain said that most eyelash growth serums contain prostaglandins, which are hormones responsible for signaling hair growth.
“Other ingredients, such as panthenol (vitamin B5), improve the skin health and optimize the prostaglandins’ ability to signal hair growth,” Dr. Lain explained.
The following information, titled “Enhanced Eyelashes: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Options,” was published by the US National Library of Medicine.
The study noted that some over-the-counter products may contain prostaglandin analogs that can affect eyelash growth, but neither the safety nor efficacy of these over-the-counter cosmetics has been fully studied.
Originally indicated for the reduction of intraocular pressure, the synthetic prostaglandin analog bimatoprost was recently approved for the treatment of hypotrichosis of the eyelashes, according to this study.
Bimatoprost (also known as LATISSE® or LUMIGAN®) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of narrow angle glaucoma and increases the length of eyelashes by increasing the growing phase of the eyelash.
The study noted that in a double-blinded, randomized, vehicle-controlled trial, bimatoprost safely and effectively grew natural eyelashes, making them longer, thicker, and darker; and also stated that “Bimatoprost was generally safe and well tolerated and appears to provide an additional option for individuals looking to improve the appearance of their eyelashes.”
The conclusion of this study noted that prostaglandin analogs appear capable of influencing eyelash growth and are contained in several over-the-counter cosmetics. Additionally, the study stated that in a vehicle-controlled trial, bimatoprost resulted in increased prominence, length, thickness, and darkness of patients’ natural eyelashes as assessed by clinician ratings and digital image analysis.
“As an ocular antihypertensive agent, bimatoprost has a proven history of safety, and when applied dermally, it was safe and well tolerated with a low incidence of adverse events,” according to the study.
According to Reese, anyone who is looking to enhance their natural lashes is a good candidate for a growth serum unless they are allergic to one of the ingredients.
“Many people are great candidates – anyone looking to improve their lashes,” Dr. Papantoniou said.
Nearly everyone can benefit, Dr. Lain noted.
“Only those with a loss of lashes due to a scarring process of the eyelid skin would not benefit, and this could only be diagnosed by a dermatologist,” he said.
According to Reese, those who should avoid growth serums include:
- Women who are pregnant
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Those who are allergic to the ingredients
- Individuals undergoing chemotherapy
- People with sensitive eyes
Dr. Papantoniou agreed that individuals who are allergic to any of the ingredients are not good candidates for eyelash growth serums.
“I recommend reading labels carefully,” she said.
Side effects can be reddening or darkening of the skin and stinging eyes if the product were to get inside the eyes, Reese noted.
According to Dr. Papantoniou, most eyelash growth serums have no known side effects and are safer than prescription eyelash treatments.
Dr. Lain said that there could be a small risk of hyperpigmentation of the eyelid skin at the application site of the serum; or a rash of the eyelids if there is an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredients.
Reese, who sells GrandeLASH-MD, has experience with LATISSE® and a few other brands as well. Here’s her take on GrandeLASH-MD.
GrandeLASH-MD claims that in as little as 4 weeks, you can expect to see a more “youthful, healthy and dramatic lash look.” Full results are achieved after using a 3-month supply, which comes in one bottle for $64.95.
“For full results, it takes 3 months, but some clients have seen a difference in as little as 4 weeks,” Reese said.
She further noted the following research about GrandeLASH-MD; the percentages are based on a 12-week consumer perception study:
- 100% reported GrandeLASH-MD was easy to use
- 97% reported more visible lashes
- 94% reported healthier looking lashes
- 91% reported longer looking lashes
Reese noted that you should not use this product if you are nursing, pregnant, undergoing chemotherapy, or under the age of 18.
“I tell clients to use the serum every single night for 3 months for the best results,” Reese said. “I personally use my serum on clean, dry skin right before I go to bed. I apply it directly on my lash line as if I were to apply eyeliner. With this, less is more, because it can sting if it gets into your eyes.”
RevitaLash® and LATISSE®
Dr. Lain offers RevitaLash® at his practice, and he also prescribes LATISSE®.
“Longer and more eyelashes are the expected results, often with improvement occurring within the first 1 to 2 months,” said Dr. Lain, adding that these products cost around $100.
“Because the serums contain signals for the cells to produce more hair, it is very important for there to be a consistent level of the signaling compound in the skin,” advised Dr. Lain, adding that daily use is therefore recommended.
“We recommend daily application until the lashes have reached the desired length; and then application every 2 to 3 days to maintain these results,” Dr. Lain said.
Application of the serum to the base of the eyelashes on the upper eyelid, akin to the placement of eyeliner, treats not only the upper lid eyelashes, but will also help the lower lid since during sleep the serum will transfer to the lower lid, he noted.
“There is a separate product formulated for eyebrows, and the feedback I have received from patients is that it is helpful,” Dr. Lain added.
The RevitaLash® serum is infused with ingredients including sugar beet betaine, which brings moisture to the hair fibers for better elasticity and the appearance of fuller looking lashes. It also contains botanical extracts of ginger, lavender, loquat leaf, aloe vera and biotin.
According to results from an independent 6-week consumer study:
- 97% reported stronger, healthier-feeling, more nourished lashes
- 96% noted their lashes felt more naturally beautiful
- 91% stated it improved the mascara performance on natural lashes
According to the manufacturer’s website, LATISSE® showed real results of more than double the fullness and an increased length and darkness. These results were shown in a multicenter, randomized, double-masked, vehicle-controlled, parallel-group study in which 137 patients applied LATISSE® nightly for 16 weeks.
In this study, 78% of those using LATISSE® (107 out of 137 people) saw a significant increase in overall eyelash prominence, including elements of fullness, length and darkness; compared to 18% (26 out of 141) who didn’t use LATISSE®.
This study also indicated the following statistics:
- 106% fuller (136 LATISSE® patients) versus 12% for the placebo group (140 patients)
- 25% longer (137 LATISSE® patients) versus 2% for the placebo group (141 patients)
- 18% darker (135 LATISSE® patients) versus 3% for the placebo group (138 patients)
Eyelash Growth Serums That Contain Peptides
At Dr. Papantoniou’s practice, “we recommend eyelash serums that contain peptides, but we do not retail.”
These serums can range from $50 to $150, and application should be done every night, with visible results showing in about 4 weeks.
“It can take 4 to 8 weeks to see results, with notably thicker and longer lashes – for continued effect, the treatment must be confined,” noted Dr. Papantoniou, adding that the serums can be used on eyebrows as well, but may not have such good results.
While Dr. Papantoniou didn’t offer specifics on the eyelash serums she recommends, some eyelash serums that contain peptides include:
- COSNATURALS Peptide Lash
- Simply Dana Peptide Lash Eyelash Growth Serum
- Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For Turbo
- Rodial Glamolash
- Lancer Lash Serum Intense
Castor oil has ricinoleic acid and omega 6 essential fatty acids which help to bring blood flow to the area to increase hair growth, Reese said.
“Apply it with an eyeliner brush to the base of the lashes, just like eyeliner, every night on clean skin,” Reese advised. Additionally, “you can also take some coconut oil on a clean mascara spooley brush, and brush that through your lashes for softer and healthier lashes.”
Dr. Papantoniou noted that castor oil has been shown to help with hair growth, and rosemary oil is helpful as well.
“The oils would be applied at night once daily, and I would not put undiluted rosemary oil on the eyelids,” she recommended. “I drop mixed into a tablespoon of castor oil would be safe for this area. Pure rosemary oil can be an irritant.”
According to Dr. Lain, there are no studies to support the use of castor oil for eyelash growth.
However, “some data exists to support the idea of castor oil working since it contains very high levels of ricinoleic acid which could help with scalp hair re-growth by inhibiting a certain hormone in the skin,” he said.
Before you decide to try an eyelash serum, Reese said the most important factor to keep in mind is: How committed are you?
“Most people these days need instant gratification but this takes time, 4 to 12 weeks, to work,” she said. “You also need to be consistent and apply it every single night for the best results.”
One concern Reese comes across is: “will my eyelashes fall out when I stop using the product?”
Latisse keeps the lashes in their final stage of hair growth – there are 3 stages – and when a client stops using Latisse, those lashes will shed like they would have naturally, Reese explained.
“The lash appearance will return to the way they looked previously,” she said. “A client’s perception of their natural lashes changes because they get used to how they looked with the enhanced lashes that they forget what their natural lashes were previously.”
Peptide and nutrient-based growth serums like Grandelash do not keep the lashes from shedding during their natural growth cycle, “so when you stop using Grandelash, your lashes do not shed as much,” Reese added. “For this reason, I prefer to use Grandelash MD.”
It is important to be patient because results will take time, Dr. Papantoniou noted.
“In the beginning don’t skip a night,” she advised. “After you have achieved your goal results, it may be okay to maintain with every other night application.”
Dr. Lain advises all patients that these serums require consistent use and some time to cause benefit.
“In addition, this is not a permanent fix,” Dr. Lain added. “The serum will need to be used consistently even after the results have been achieved in order to maintain results.”
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