- Posted on: Jan 18 2021
What are Eyelash Serums?
Eyelash serums are cosmetic products used to enhance the growth of eyelashes. With regular use, they can make eyelashes appear longer, darker, and thicker. They are sold both over the counter and by prescription. Over the counter products usually contain ingredients such as peptides, biotin, and isopropyl cloprostenate. The only FDA approved prescription option for eyelash growth is Latisse, which contains the drug Bimatoprost. This drug was originally used to treat glaucoma under the product name Lumigan. It was discovered that Lumigan users often noticed increased eyelash growth as a side effect of the medication, and in 2008 Latisse was approved for treatment of inadequate eyelash growth.
How are they used?
Eyelash serums are applied daily above the lid margin of the upper eyelids. Most serums state that they should be used daily for several weeks to see full results. According to Latisse manufacturer Allergan’s website, users can expect to see full results after 16 weeks of use.
Do they work?
In clinical trials, Latisse was shown to improve eyelash prominence in 78% of people who used the drug daily for 16 weeks. This improvement has been shown to occur only while using the medication, and users can expect their eyelashes to return to their previous appearance within several weeks to months. Products not approved by the FDA have not undergone clinical trials, therefore there is no data available about their effectiveness.
Are they safe?
Because the vast majority of eyelash serums have not been tested or approved by the FDA, there is no clinical data to determine their safety. Latisse has been approved by the FDA, however there are side effects to this medication that should be considered before use. According to the Allergan, the most common side effects are:
- Hypersensitivity including eye irritation, redness of the eye, itchy eyes, and dry eyes
- Changes in intraocular pressure (IOP) which may be of particular concern for patients being treated for glaucoma
- Increased iris pigmentation, or darkening of the colored part of the eye which is likely to be permanent
- Lid pigmentation, or darkening of the eyelid and skin surrounding the eye
- Hair growth outside the treatment area, which can occur if the product repeatedly touches surfaces other than the eyelid
- Intraocular inflammation
- Macular edema
- Contamination of product or applicators which can lead to infection
- Discoloration of contact lenses
These may not represent all of the side effects of the medication. It is important to consult with your doctor to determine whether or not eyelash serums are a good option for you. Be wary of websites claiming to offer Latisse without a consultation from a doctor. According to an interview published in the New York Times, a representative for Allergan stated that most online sales of Latisse were illegal ones over which Allergan had no control, either because the product was being smuggled into the country or because it was really a generic knockoff not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
When it comes to your eyes, always trust your eye doctor. To schedule an eye exam, call or text (907) 328-2920. For more information about eye cosmetics, read our blog Eye Cosmetic Safety.
Latisse: What to Expect https://www.latisse.com/WhatToExpect.aspx
Food and Drug Administration https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/022369s005lbl.pdf
Catherine St Louis “Long Lashes Without Prescription, but With Risks” The New York Times 2010 https://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/02/health/02latisse.html
Written By: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC