Lash serums have flooded the beauty market with promises to replace all of your lash enhancing alternatives and transform your natural lashes by strengthening, volumizing and lengthening them.
You’ll find lots of rave reviews, before and after photos on Instagram, and celebrity endorsements, but do eyelash growth serums work?
How Eyelashes Grow
To understand how lash serums work, and more importantly, if they deliver on their promise of longer, fuller lashes, it helps to understand your eyelash growing cycle.
Eyelash growth follows a specific pattern in three stages: the active (anagen), transition (catagen), and resting (telogen) stages.
The active stage is when your eyelashes are growing. This phase can last from four to six weeks. Your eyelashes are at their maximum length during the transition phase, and the hair follicles begin to shrink. This part of the cycle can last from two to three weeks.
The resting period can last approximately 100 days before the lash naturally falls out.
Each individual lash undergoes these phases independently from one another.
On average, a single lash will take anywhere from four to eight months to go through these stages, from the time it starts to grow to when it naturally sheds.
Are All Lash Serums Created Equal?
When you have a market flooded with a certain product that can range anywhere between $8 to $150 for a little tube of the same product, there are bound to be some serums that have been developed more to cash in on the latest trend, rather than delivering the results.
Were we supposed to say that? Oops.
Because all lash serums, except for one (we’ll get to that one in a bit), fall under the heading of cosmetics, they do not require FDA approval to hit the market.
Neither the law nor FDA regulations require specific tests to demonstrate the safety or effectiveness of these cosmetic products or their ingredients, so “Do lash serums actually work?” is a legit question.
The Differences Between Lash Serums
Lash serums fall into three main categories based on their key active ingredients:
- Peptide based
- Vitamin based
- Prostaglandin derived
Peptide and vitamin-based lash serums tend to be more of a conditioning and repairing treatment for lashes, like , Neutrogena Healthy Lashes Lash Enhancer Serum , Milk Makeup KUSH Lash + Brow Serum and Talika Lipocils Expert Eyelash Serum .
These formulas are often enriched with a myriad of ingredients to build healthy hair follicles, nourish and strengthen lashes, lock in moisture, and protect lashes from breakage.
While these serums will condition your lashes and can make them softer, and healthier, some may make them appear fuller and thicker, it’s important to note that they will not make your lashes grow longer.
Prostaglandin analogues are a class of drugs that bind to prostaglandin receptors. During the treatment of patients with elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma with eye drops that contained a prostaglandin analogue, it was noticed that the patients undergoing treatment developed longer, thicker lashes.
Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that developed the drug, looked into its application for lash enhancing. After clinical trials to study the safety and effectiveness for lash growth, LATISSE was approved by the FDA in December of 2008.
Latisse is the only FDA-approved lash serum and the only one classified as a drug, rather than a cosmetic. It is only available by prescription from your doctor. It is also the only lash serum that has been clinically proven to grow longer lashes.
This is due to its active ingredient: Bimatoprost, which is a prostaglandin analogue.
Do eyelash growth serums work?
Prostagladin derived lash serums will actually make your eyelashes grow thicker and longer by increasing the percentage of hairs in the anagen, or growth phase, of the hair cycle and the duration of this phase.
There are other brands of over-the-counter lash serum that use a synthetic prostaglandin analogue as their active ingredient. These serums should give you the same result as Latisse.
But as they fall under the ‘beauty products’ category, there are no regulations in terms of how much of the active ingredient has to be used to get the desired results not is there a requirement to list any side effects of their ingredients.
What is the Most Effective Eyelash Growth Serum?
All of the lash serums will nourish and hydrate your lashes. And when it comes to the peptide and vitamin-based lash serums, more expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better.
Rimmel Lash Accelerator Serum is a low-[riced serum. A 5-star review of this product came from someone who said they used to pay $150 for an eyelash growth serum, only to discover this much more cost-effective brand actually gave them “better results.”
But if we are talking about ‘effective’ meaning making your eyelashes actually grow longer, apart from Latisse, only an over-the-counter prostaglandin-derived lash serum, like Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die for Platinum and ORPHICA Realash Eyelash Enhancer will do that.
If you are looking for longer lashes, look for one of these prostaglandin analogue ingredients on the label:
- Isopropyl cloprostenate
- Isopropanol Phenyl-hydroxyl-pentene Dihydroxy-cyclopentyl-heptenate
- Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenolamide
- Trifluoromethyl Dechloro Ethylprostenolamide
How Long Does it Take for Eyelash Growth Serum to Work?
Lash serum doesn’t work overnight. It can take anywhere from 2-4 months of initial daily, then weekly use before you start seeing results. Lash Serums will stop working if you stop using them, and your eyelashes will revert to their original state.
Lash Serum Side effects
We’d hate to be a buzzkill, but those miracle lash growing ingredients (prostaglandin analogues), that actually grow lashes longer, have some pretty significant side effects that you should know about.
Prostaglandin derived Lash serums can cause inflammation around the eyes, redness, itching, and watering. They can also disrupt tear expression and film production, and cause permanent dry eye disease.
They have also been known to cause a sunken eye appearance by shrinking the layers of fat around the eye socket while darkening the color of the surrounding skin.
The most notable side effect is that these prostaglandin-derived lash serums can also cause an irreversible darkening of the iris pigment. Yes, that’s right – it can actually darken your eye color!
Just remember: the companies that produce over-the-counter lash serums are not obligated to tell you about the side effects of their products. Just because your box of lash serum doesn’t list any side effects, it doesn’t mean they don’t have any.
These products are considered beauty products, not medical products.
Only prostaglandin-derived lash serums will actually increase the growth of your lashes, but they can also cause some pretty significant side effects in some people.
Peptide and vitamin-based lash serums are conditioning and may make your lashes look fuller and thicker.
They will not grow your lashes longer, but they don’t have the side effects of prostaglandin-based lash serums.
Depending on what your goal is, and the type of serum you choose, lash serums will likely work. If you can deal with the side effects.