There is no shortage of options to give you the long, fluttery eyelashes that you wished had come naturally. One popular new tool is Lash Serums.
Lash serum is a magical elixir promising to do what no other lash enhancer can do: give you longer, darker, thicker natural lashes.
Sound too good to be true? As lash serum has become popular, we’ve started to hear stories of side effects. One of the most disturbing being that lash serums can change your eye color. Do eyelash serums change your eye color?
In this article, we are going to do a deep dive into lash serums, look at their active ingredients, and potential side effects.
The Quest for Perfect Lashes
Long lashes are beautiful. It’s hard to get around that fact! Over the years we’ve tried to amp up the lashes with mascara, glue-on and magnetic false lashes, eyelash extensions, and more.
And of course, we can’t forget one of the newest entrants on the scene: Lash Serums.
How Lash Serum Was Accidentally Developed
In 2001, the Allergan pharmaceutical company developed a medicated eye drop to treat elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) and glaucoma.
A lot of patients who were using this medication began to grow longer, fuller, and darker lashes as a side effect.
This led the company to study the medication’s active ingredient, bimatoprost, specifically for growing lashes.
After a clinical trial to study the safety and effectiveness for lash growth, Latisse was approved by the FDA in December of 2008.
Currently, there is only one Lash serum scientifically studied, approved by the FDA, and proven effective for growing longer, thicker lashes. This product is Latisse.
Latisse has been proven to not only lengthen existing lashes, but also to stimulate growth in hair follicles not currently producing lashes.
So it’s true, and it works!
But there’s the catch.
You can’t run down to your local drugstore and pick up a tube. You can only obtain Latisse with a prescription from your doctor.
Why do you need a prescription for Latisse Lash Serum?
When the FDA approved this product for use as an eyelash growth serum, they determined that the side effects or improper use could cause harm.
They and restricted it to a prescription drug.
If they thought it was completely safe to use without doctor supervision, they would have made it an over-the-counter drug.
This raises so many questions! What are the risks and side effects? Does eyelash serum change your eye color? And what about all the other lash serums out there? Are they the same?
What About All The Other Lash Serums?
You might be thinking: wait a minute – there is more than just one brand of lash serum on the market. I’ve seen them at the health and beauty store and I can order them online.
What’s the difference between those and Latisse? And why don’t I need a prescription for those lash serums? Are they safer?
Latisse is the only lash serum that has been approved by the FDA. Though the other lash serums say they will give you longer, thicker ‘looking’ lashes, they cannot claim it will make your lashes grow longer.
They are unproven to do so.
And because they are not FDA approved and classified as a ‘beauty product’, rather than a medication, the companies that produce these serums are under no obligation to disclose the side effects of their ingredients.
Lash Serum Active ingredients
Lash serums fall into three main categories based on their key active ingredients:
- Prostaglandin derived
- Peptide based
- Vitamin based
Bimatoprost is the active ingredient in Latisse lash serum. Bimatoprost is a prostaglandin analog, which is a class of drugs that bind to prostaglandin receptors.
It works as a lash enhancer by increasing the percentage of hairs in the anagen, or growth phase, of the hair cycle and increases the duration of this phase.
Prostaglandin analogs also increase the size of the hair bulb. This all results in making the hair grow longer and thicker.
Some of the more popular over-the-counter lash serums, like Grande Lash MD & Revitalash Lash Enhancing Serum (which we reviewed here), do not use Bimatoprost, but their active ingredients are also prostaglandin derived.
Even though their active ingredient is a synthetic version of a prostaglandin analog, it produces the same results as bimatoprost.
If you are looking for a lash serum that is actually going to work, look for these prostaglandin derived ingredients on the labels:
- Isopropyl cloprostenate
- Isopropanol Phenyl-hydroxyl-pentene Dihydroxy-cyclopentyl-heptenate
- Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenolamide
- Trifluoromethyl Dechloro Ethylprostenolamide.
As for all of the other lash serums out there that do not contain any of the above ingredients, they are considered peptide or vitamin-based. These serums tend to be more of a conditioning and repairing treatment for lashes, like Neutrogena Healthy Lashes Lash Enhancer Serum , and Milk Makeup KUSH Lash + Brow Serum .
Usually these formulas are enriched with antioxidants and other common ingredients like:
- Amino acids to build healthy hair follicles
- Peptides to nourish and strengthen lashes
- Biotin to improve hair’s health by strengthening keratin
- Ceramides to lock in moisture
- Panthenol to hydrate and protect lashes from breakage
While these serums will condition your lashes and can make them appear fuller and thicker, it’s important to note that they are not shown to make your lashes grow longer.
Are Lash Serums Bad For Your Eyes?
It’s unfortunate that the active ingredients (prostaglandin analogues), that actually grows lashes, have some pretty significant side effects that you should be aware of.
Prostaglandins are chemical compounds found naturally within almost all of our body’s tissue that are responsible for, among other things, stimulating inflammation.
So it’s no surprise that prostaglandin-derived Lash serums can cause inflammation around the eyes like swollen lids, as well as redness, itching, and watering.
By promoting inflammation in and around the eye, prostaglandin analogues can disrupt tear expression and film production, and can cause permanent dry eye disease.
In addition to chronic irritation, prostaglandin analogs have also been known to darken the color of the iris in people with light brown or hazel eyes. They can also potentially cause a sunken eye appearance by shrinking the layers of fat around the eye socket while darkening the surrounding skin.
Don’t forget – the companies that produce over-the-counter lash serums are not obligated to tell you about the side effects of their products.
So just because your box of lash serum with any of those active ingredients listed above, that you got at the drugstore or ordered online, doesn’t list side effects… that doesn’t mean they don’t have any.
Do Eyelash Serums Change Your Eye Color?
So do eyelash serums change your eye color? The answer is: yes, they can change your eye color. Any product that contains an active ingredient which is a prostaglandin analog can permanently change the color of the iris.
This is especially true if you have light-colored eyes.
This process happens slowly and gradually. You may not even notice until you’ve been using your serum for a couple of months. And by then it’s too late.
Make sure you know which active ingredients have harmful side effects. And understand that the lash serums that don’t contain any of the potentially harmful, eye color-changing ingredients, aren’t proven to make your lashes longer.
If you have light-colored eyes, consider other options for enhancing those lashes.