POSTED: 21 Feb 2024

Do Eyelash Serums Really Work? Here’s How to Find the Best Eyelash Serum for You.

Eyelash serums offer promise of perfect fluttery, lush and voluminous lashes without the cost and hassle of falsies or eyelash extensions. They’ve quite quickly captured the attention of the beauty world with endless reviews testifying to their dramatic effect on eyelash growth, strength and fullness. That’s why these serums have quickly become a staple in beauty routines worldwide. However, despite all the hype, there’s one important question that still prevails; do eyelash serums really work? In this article we’ll explore whether eyelash serums work and which are the best ones that are actually worth your investment?

What’s The Science Behind Eyelash Serums & Do They Really Work?

Eyelash growth serums is actually a broad category and not all are the same. So before diving into whether they work or not it’s important to understand what affects the growth and the health of your lashes. Like hair anywhere else on your body, eyelash growth involves a natural cycle that includes shedding, resting and regrowth phase. Understanding this cycle is the key to knowing how to support and enhance eyelash growth:

  • Anagen Phase (Growth Phase): This is when eyelash follicles are actively growing and lasts around 4-6 weeks. The length and health of lashes during this phase depend on genetics, nutrition and overall health. The best way to support this phase is through a nutrient-rich diet, eyelash serums that directly stimulate growth and gentle handling to avoid stress on the follicles.
  • Catagen Phase (Transition Phase): During this stage growth stops and the follicle begins to shrink. If an eyelash falls out or is pulled out during this phase, it won’t start growing back until this period ends. The catagen phase lasts around 2-3 weeks. During this period, you should continue to nourish lashes with serums that strengthen and protect the lashes in this delicate state.
  • Telogen Phase (Resting/Shedding Phase): Here is when the old eyelash rests in the follicle before it’s naturally shed, and a new lash begins to grow beneath it. This phase is the longest (about 3-4 months) and at any given time, many lashes are in this phase. Patience is key during this phase. You just need to apply nourishing serums and oils to support the new growth and maintain the health of the lashes that are resting.

It’s important to note that not all the lashes are at the same phase as each other and hence will have different needs.

Which Ingredients Make Eyelash Serums Work?

The effectiveness of an eyelash serum largely depends on its ingredients. Whilst there are a large number of serums on the market, they tend to have some similar core ingredients:

  • Prostaglandin analogs like bimatoprost mimic naturally occurring compounds that play a role in hair growth and follicle development. They effectively extend the anagen (growth) phase of the lash cycle. This leads to longer and denser lashes. Prostaglandin analogs are found in prescription only products like Latisse and some over the counter products like Obagi Nu-Cil as well as Revitalash Advanced Pro.
  • Peptides are amino acids that support keratin production. This promotes stronger and thicker lashes.
  • Biotin strengthens lashes and reduces breakage.
  • Hyaluronic acid hydrates the lashes, making them appear softer and plumper.
  • Antioxidants protect the hair follicles from damage by free radicals. Vitamin E, in particular, supports healthy hair follicles to help with maintenance and growth of lashes.
  • Oils like castor or coconut oil can nourish and strengthen lashes.
  • Panthenol (Pro-Vitamin B5) penetrates the lash shaft, providing moisture and improving its elasticity and strength. This helps to prevent lash breakage and make each lash appear thicker and fuller.

As you can see from the above list the only way to enhance eyelash growth will be to use serums that work on the anagin phase and stimulate the hair follicles there. However, nourishing and conditioning serums will help support the health of the lashes in all three phases and improve the appearance. As such, the best way to support your lashes will be a serum or combination of serums that can help support every phase of the eyelash cycle.

The Best Eyelash Serums That Deliver Results & Are Worth Your Money

The market is flooded with eyelash serums promising miraculous results, but not all are created equal. The best serum for you will depend on your needs and goals. We’ve grouped eyelash serums into 3 main categories as this reflects most of what’s available:

  • Eyelash Growth Stimulating Serums: These are products that only affect the anagin growth. They are mainly prescription only medicines and the most famous example is Latisse (or it’s generic equivalents) which contain just a prostaglandin analogue as their active ingredient. This is usually bimatoprost which is a drug that is normally used to treat an eye condition called glaucoma but it’s effect on eyelash growth was discovered accidentally.
  • Eyelash Conditioning Serums: These are over the counter products that just contain nourishing products like Biotin, essential oils and other ingredients aimed to improve the health of the lashes. They don’t contain active ingredients and hence do not really provide eyelash growth. They can however make lashes look fuller and healthier.
  • Eyelash Growth & Enhancing Serums: These are generally a hybrid of the first two and are a newer type of product. They contain a number of nourishing ingredients but also a prostaglandin analogue that helps extend the anagin phase. These serums work to both lengthen and thicken eyelashes. They do not require a prescription (as the prostaglandin analogues are milder than bimaptoprost) but are generally sold through specialist clinics and stores. The two most famous examples are Obagi Nu-Cil as well as Revitalash Advanced Pro.

So What are the Best Eyelash Serums Available in the UK?

There are many options for eyelash serum in the UK but the best one for you will depend on your needs. As a general rule if your goal is to lengthen the lashes then you need an eyelash growth serum. If you suffer from something like alopecia of the eyelashes or another medical reason for thinning or short lashes, then it’s probably best to see a doctor for prescription solutions. Whilst Latisse is not available in the UK, there are generic formulations of Bimoprost that your doctor may be able to prescribe instead. However, please note that you will need to use this prescription product long-term in order to maintain the results as stopping the treatment will reverse the results.

If you do’t want a prescription product or you’re looking to maintain your results by stepping down to an over the counter product then hybrid growth and enhancing products like Obagi Nu-Cil Eyelash Enhancing Serum are probably the best way to go in the UK. This eyelash serum has been clinically proven to work and promotes denser, longer and more voluminous lashes.

If you’re happy with the length an amount of your lashes but want to just improve their condition, then eyelash conditioning serums are best for you. These will help nourish and look after your lashes. In the UK, Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner (this doesn’t contain any prostaglandin analogues), GrandeLASH-MD and UKLASH are all popular options.

How to Get the Best Results from Eyelash Serum

The best way to get the most out of eyelash serums is to choose the product that meets your needs. Also, whilst eyelash serums can yield impressive results, it’s important to approach them with realistic expectations. Like anything in beauty, all types of eyelash serums require consistent application over several weeks before they really start tow work. In addition, please remember that individual results can vary based on factors like genetics and lifestyle. This means that patience and persistence are key to success.

For the best outcomes, you should also make sure that you apply your eyelash serum correctly. Always read the instructions as different serums require different frequencies and application techniques. It’s also important to perform a patch test before using it on the eye area to make sure you’re not allergic. Below is generally the best way to use most serums:

  • Start by cleansing the eyelid area to remove any makeup or residue.
  • Apply a thin line of serum along the upper lash line each night (or day or both depending on the serum)
  • Avoid direct contact with the eyes and the surrounding skin.
  • Get into a routine as consistency is king. Irregular use can slow down or reverse your progress.

Safety and Side Effects

There’s a lot of panic about prostaglandin eyelash serums on the internet and in magazines. Some of it is valid. Whilst eyelash serums are generally safe, there are potential side effects. These include irritation or allergic reactions which is why you should always perform a patch test. Also avoid using them if you have any skin irritation, inflammation or infection.

There are less common but crucial risks that you should also be aware of. Prescription eyelash serums containing prostaglandin analogs have been shown to change the eye colour in people with blue, green or light coloured eyes. Whilst this is rare, it’s really important to consider this as the change is permanent and doesn’t revert when the serum is stopped. Although non prescription serums containing prostaglandins haven’t been shown to do this, they are newer and it’s worth assuming that this is a risk until there is definitive data excluding it. Finally, if you have a skin or hair condition or an underlying medical condition, you should consult with a medical specialist before using.

There’s no doubt that thick, sweeping eyelashes are a huge draw for a lot of us and it’s on this basis that the eyelash serum industry has flourished. Just be aware that not all serums are the same and they do very different things. That’s why it’s worth choosing the best eyelash serum for your goal and concerns to ensure that it really works. Also, set realistic expectations, be consistent and very patient. Finally, make sure you familiarise yourself with all the risks and how to use these serums correctly to get the best results and avoid problems.

Visit our Obagi Nu-Cil Eyelash Serum page to learn more about this product and buy it from our online shop!

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
BSC (HONS) MBBS MRCS PHD
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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