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Discover Interesting Facts About Eyelashes and Brows

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4/8/2019

Let's talk about lash growth and  lash enhancement serums.  Lash serums have been around for a long time now. From Jan Marini's ground breaking serum in 2006 to the new kid on the block, Rodan and Fields, Lash Boost in 2017.  We are a culture obsessed with lashes.  Big lashes! Lots of Lashes!  Long lashes!

How do these serums work?  How do you know which serum is right for you? There is a lot of confusion about lash growth serums.  We really can't say "growth serums"  as then they would be classified by the FDA as drugs not cosmetics.  Then in most cases we would need a prescription to purchase.   Ah, but Latisse is a prescription lash serum so it must be better right?  Not so fast!!  A prescription is not required to purchase Latisse.  Lattise is a prescription drug formula that has been approved by the FDA for over the counter topical use as an eyelash growing serum).  It was approved by the FDA for this use in December 2008.  This is why you can walk into a med-spa and purchase Latisse.   If Latisse was available by prescription only, you would have to purchase it at your pharmacy.  This is because only pharmacies can fill prescriptions or sell prescription drugs.   Allergan pharmaceutical sells its product ,Latisse, only to prescribing physicians. This is why you can buy Latisse from your dermatologist, dentist or ophthalmologist or most commonly plastic surgeons office or any spa or salon that has a licensed physician as a medical director.  These physicians all "write" prescriptions. 

 

Let's place lash serums into 2 categories, prostaglandins analogs and non-prostaglandin analogs. 

What is a prostaglandin analog?  They are the ingredients in glaucoma medications that lower eye pressure but also have been found to help lashes grow or appear fuller and longer.  Bimatoprost in Lumigan (glaucoma medication) by Allergan Pharmaceuticals  and Latanaprost in Xalatan by Pfizer are both prostaglandin analogs.  Lash enhancement is a side effect of these medications. These drugs had been used for a few years when it was noticed that patients using these new glaucoma medications had longer thicker lashes.    

Prostaglandin Analogs affect the growth of the eyelash in the early stages of hair growth, the anagen stage.  This is why it takes so long for you to see results. (8-14 weeks) The analogy I like to use is fertilizer.  You fertilize your lawn but it is not the grass you seen now that is affected by the treatment, it is the grass later in the year, after several mowings.  This is the same with the lash serums. It takes many weeks to see results because it is affecting the new eyelashes that are coming up.  Not the lashes you can see now.  

Side Effects

Prostaglandin analogs can have some side effects.  These side effects may include eye and eyelid irritation, redness, itching, burning an discoloration of the eyelid and iris.    Pharmaceuticals does state at the top of the Latisse website that states  "May cause brown darkening of the colored part of the eye which is likely permanent." If you are concerned ask your Ophthalmologist or Optometrist before using or just use a non-prostaglandin serum.  The most common pigmenting side effect I have noted with my clients is increased pigment is around they eyelid itself.  This has happened in some but not many of my clients.  In my clients with darker skin, the darker or brown the pigmentation seems to be. The fairer skinned you are the more red/purple the pigmenting appears to be.  I have also found with my personal clients that once the prostaglandin analog serum was stopped the pigmenting went away.   Information in Journal of  the American Medical Association Ophthalmology  ( JAMA Ophthalmology) and the American Academy of Ophthalmology describe patients that were noted to have increased pigmenting of the eyelid after using a prostaglandin analog serums. (Jama has photos)   Allergan also states on the website that Latisse
"may cause eyelid skin darkening which may be reversible". The other side effect I have noticed on my clients is if you have a hair follicle in an area where you place the serum, expect that area to grow hair!  It is easy to use too much product over too broad of an area.  So don't be surprised if you put it in the every inner corner of your eye you will get hair in the very inner eye corner or on to the corner of your nose.  I've seen this!!

 

Non-Prostaglandin Analogs:  These are usually lash serums that contain keratin or keratin boosters (a fibrous protein forming the main structure of hair).  Many also contain peptides (chains of amino acids) to enhance lash fullness and length.  Peptides have been shown to increase hair growth, thickness and enlarge hair follicle size.  Peptides are also found in many skin care products to smooth rough skin and improve skin elasticity and firmness.  Also, many contain humectants and vitamins to help moisturize and nourish the lash hair.  Many of these serums claim to be natural.  

While sensitivities can occur with any product they appear to be much less with the non-prostaglandin analog products.  This being said, it has been my experience than non-prostaglandin products do not perform as well, but they do perform.  These are a good option for those who have allergies to or are sensitive to the prostaglandin containing products.

What about Biotin?

Livestrong as a great article on vitamins and eyelash growth.  Click on the link https://www.livestrong.com/article/519974-what-vitamins-make-your-eyelashes-grow/ to read.  I have seen  eyelash fullness increase on many of my clients just by using a skin, hair and nail vitamin.  Check with your doctor though to make sure adding a vitamin is ok for you.

What about Castor Oil?

Honestly, I don't have much experience with clients using caster oil.  98% of my clients wear eyelash extensions and oil, any kind of oil is a no-no!  Here is my take on the subject.   Many women fall into bed at night after a long day and leave their eye makeup on.  Take it off( most of it) in the morning only to put it right back on before starting their long day again.  Repeat daily.  The eyelashes  never get a chance to get conditioned. never get really clean and thus poor growth and clogged follicles.  This is even worse with water proof mascara.  Then reading about the wonders of caster oil on the internet you decide to give it a try.  It is way less expensive then lash serum and all natural too!  So you come home in the evening wash face and lashes. Clean clean clean.  Apply caster oil conditioner and what do you know 8-10 weeks later your lashes are longer and fuller.  Just makes sense that it is proper eyelid hygiene and not so much the caster oil.  I need to do a few test clients.  I will keep you updated.

Fast Eyelash Serum Facts:

  • Lash serums really do work when you use them properly. The amount of length and fullness you achieve is variable due to the type of serum you are using, your age, health and genetics. My experience is that some brands give more fullness and others give more length.
  • Eyelash serums must be used everyday (preferably at night) for approximately 12-14 weeks to see results.  Using serums 2-5 times per week will not give results.  Ladies, you have to be dedicated to using the first tube faithfully every night.  If you forget then use it in the morning. The length and thickness you have at 14 weeks is the maximum result you will achieve.
  • Once your first tube of serum is finished you can begin to use the serum 3-4 times per week to maintain lash thickness and fullness
  • When you stop using the serum your lashes will go back to the length and fullness they were before the serum.  This will take about 12-14 weeks. 
  • If you are in your 40's or older, expect results but not the results your 20 year old daughter is getting.  It is just biology ladies.  
  • It is hormonal and natural to have thinner, shorter more sparse lashes as we get older.
  • A prostaglandin based lash serum will give you longer fuller looking lashes than a non-prostaglandin based serum. But you will also have a higher risk of irritation.
  • Mild itching is normal at about day 7-21. I like to believe that this is the serum stimulating the follicle.
  • If you are having eye surgery, are on any eye medications or have dry eye check with your ophthalmologist before starting a lash serum.
  • My favorite lash serums are Revitalash and Grande Lash. Revitalash in my opinion gives the best balance of length and fullness.  My favorite non-prostaglandin serum is LashFood. 
  • You can use  lash serums with eyelash extensions. Yes to Revitalash and Grande lash for sure. I have personally had mixed results with eyelash extension wear using Babelash and Rodan and Fields.  
  • Latisse is available without a prescription (see long explanation at the top)
  • Read the directions of your lash serum.  Most only need to use once per day (bedtime) most you do not use on bottom lashes as when you close your eyes at night the top and bottom lashes mesh together. Too much serum on the bottom results in "spider leg lashes"
  • Dip your brush into the serum wipe off excess run across the lashes at the base of the eyelashes not on the lid.  Repeat for the 2nd eye. If you dip and the swipe right eye and then swipe the left eye without re-dipping the lashes on the right will be longer and fuller than the left.
  • Too much serum applied to the lashes will leave you with dandruff like flakes.  Dip and remove excess and swipe across the lash base.repeat. This will also help the serum last longer. It does not take a lot of serum to work, just consistent use.