Do Lash Serums Really Work?

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Two months ago, I took a break from getting eyelash extensions after a four year nonstop run of lash appointment after lash appointment. I thought I couldn’t possibly have any natural lashes left, but low and behold, my little baby lashes were still holding strong. I knew I needed a lash serum—stat—to help accelerate my lash growth, but it made me wonder, do lash serums even work? I took my question to the pros and they gave me the scoop on the best available options to give my weak little lashes a boost. 

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The Prescription
“No one knows how Latisse, which has the active ingredient bimatoprost, works exactly,” explains New York dermatologist Peter Chien, MD. “The use of eye drops for glaucoma that led to eyelash growth was discovered accidentally, first by an ophthalmologist in 1997 and then published again in the dermatology field as a case report with latanoprost by Dr. Bruce Strober, then at NYU.”

Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda Honet, MD says that although exactly how Latisse works is unclear, there are theories on how it works. “It possibly keeps more lash hairs in their growth phase and/or is increasing blood supply to the hair bulbs themselves. Whatever the mechanism of action is, it’s quite effective and is largely safe. And because it is a prescription product, it has been carefully regulated by the FDA and can be clinically monitored by the dispensing physician.”

While the overwhelming majority of doctors agree Latisse works wonders, it does have its drawbacks. “We do know it darkens the lashes by stimulating melanogenesis—producing more melanin or the pigment that colors the lashes—which makes them darker," says Fort Lauderdale dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias. “Without a doubt, the prostaglandin products work the best for growing, thickening and darkening eyelash hair, and as discussed above, many companies have gotten in trouble by including prescription prostaglandin products in their over-the-counter products.”

“Don’t use Latisse if you have blue irises, because you risk turning them brown,” cautions Dr. Chien. “It should be purchased with a prescription or from a doctor’s office as it can also cause glaucoma in those at risk,” adds Germantown, TN dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD.

Over-the-Counter Serums
If the risks associated with a prescription serum are too great, there are over the counter options to try—like Milk Makeup KUSH Growhouse Lash + Brow Serum ($48), Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum ($36), RevitaLash Advanced ($150), Grande Cosmetics GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum ($65), LiLash ($90) and Neulash Lash Enhancing Serum ($95).

“Many OTC lash serums contain prostaglandin analogues similar to the active ingredients in Latisse, says New York dermatologist Susan Bard, MD. “They work really well and often times cause less of contact dermatitis on the eyelid skin.”

Pittsburgh, PA dermatologist Dr. Ashley Kittridge says she is a fan of OTC serums herself. “I think GrandeLASH-MD has been an affordable and effective treatment for patients. I’ve used it myself with great results! I agree with Dr. Bard that I tend to see less contact dermatitis to this than Latisse, although Latisse does generally work well for most patients.”

Both Vienna, VA dermatologist Brenda Dintiman, MD and Staten Island, NY dermatologist Carolin T. Penrose, MD vouch for Neulash Lash Serum. “I find it easy to use and am definitely seeing results,” says Dr. Dintiman. “I agree!” adds Dr. Penrose. I have been using it myself and seeing good results in just two weeks.”

If the pros do it, so can I. With all of this great info, I felt confident in my decision to take a break from the lash glue and invest in a good lash serum and a great mascara