Eyelash serums have rapidly gained popularity in recent years, promising longer, fuller and healthier lashes without the need for extensions or false lashes. But what exactly are eyelash serums, and do they really work? In this article we review the different types of eyelash serums for growth, how and if they work and where to get prescription eyelash serums like Latisse in the UK.
What are Eyelash Serums?
Eyelash serums are beauty products designed to boost the growth of eyelashes, making them appear longer, thicker and healthier. They usually come in a mascara like tube and are applied directly to the lash line. They usually contain ingredients meant to nourish and stimulate the hair follicles of your eyelashes.
Generally, eyelash serums come in various formulations, but most contain ingredients like peptides, vitamins and natural extracts. These ingredients are commonly used for their ability to support hair growth, fortify the hair shaft and protect against breakage. Some serums also contain prostaglandin analogs, which have been clinically proven to stimulate eyelash growth. However, in the USA and UK, these eyelash serums are available only by prescription due to potential side effects.
Over-The-Counter Vs Prescription Eyelash Serums
Over-the-counter (OTC) eyelash serums mainly offer conditioning benefits, protecting and nourishing the lashes. Prescription eyelash serums, like Latisse which is the main brand in the UK and USA, contain active ingredients such as bimatoprost that affect the growth cycle of your eyelashes.
Over-The-Counter Eyelash Serums
OTC eyelash serums are widely available and can be bought without a prescription from drug stores and beauty shops. They usually contain ingredients like peptides, biotin, panthenol, amino acids or plant extracts. These are meant to condition and strengthen eyelashes. As such OTC serums can prevent breakage and improve the appearance of your lashes. These serums can be quite effective at improving the health and durability of your lashes. This can make them appear fuller and longer. However, with a small number of exceptions like Obagi Nu-Cil which contains prostaglandins that promote growth, they’re generally not as potent or as capable of significantly increasing eyelash length or thickness as prescription lash serums.
Prescription Eyelash Serums
In general, prescription eyelash serums contain active ingredients that affect the growth cycle of your eyelashes. The most well known eyelash serum in the UK is Latisse, which contains the active ingredient bimatoprost. This is a prostaglandin analog. It was originally used to treat glaucoma, a disease that can damage your optic nerve due to increased pressure in the eye. Doctors discovered that bimatoprost not only treated this condition and prevented blindness in glaucoma patients, but that it also stimulated eyelash growth. Since then, clinical studies have shown that these drugs increase the length, thickness and darkness of eyelashes.
Do Eyelash Serums Work?
The effectiveness of eyelash serums varies. It depends on the product and individual circumstances. OTC serums can improve the look and feel of your lashes. They mainly condition and strengthen lashes but won’t drastically change their length or volume.
Prescription serums, on the other hand, can actually stimulate lash growth. Our hair, including our eyelashes, goes through three stages: the anagen (growth) phase, the catagen (transition) phase and the telogen (resting) phase. Prescription, eyelash growth serums extend the growth phase of the hair cycle. The active ingredient in prescription eyelash growth serums, such as bimatoprost in Latisse, belongs to a group of medications known as prostaglandin analogs. Bimatoprost affects the growth of hair follicles by increasing the percent of hairs in the anagen phase and keeping the lashes in this phase for a longer period. This allows lashes to grow longer and thicker before they eventually fall out. However, results can vary from person to person.
Regardless of whether you choose OTC or prescription products, the effects of eyelash growth serums are not permanent. Once you stop using the product, your lashes will eventually return to their normal appearance.
Side Effects of Eyelash Serums
Whilst most people tolerate these products well, there are some risks and side effects you should consider. When it comes to the potential side effects of eyelash serums, it’s important to distinguish between OTC and prescription formulations.
There’s the possibility of minor side effects with OTC eyelash serums. Eye irritation, manifesting as redness, itchiness, or a stinging sensation, can occur if the serum seeps into your eyes. Allergic reactions, whilst thankfully less common, may also occur. Commonly, these present as discomfort, swelling, redness or itching around the eyes. If you have a severe allergy this can lead to facial swelling and even breathing difficulties. There’s also a risk of infection especially if you use the same applicator. Some people might also notice darkening of the skin along the lash line where the serum is consistently applied.
Prescription eyelash serums, have a well defined set of potential side effects. In addition to the risks that OTC products have, they may also cause permanent changes in eye colour. Although this is rare, it is most likely in individuals with green or hazel eyes. Additionally, if the serum regularly contacts the surrounding skin, it might even stimulate unwelcome hair growth in those areas.
Always apply these serums in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines and perform a patch test first to reduce any risks. In any case, should you experience discomfort, redness, or swelling after using an eyelash serum, immediately stop using it and seek advice from a healthcare professional.
How to Use Eyelash Serums
Eyelash serums are very easy to use. Most serums should be used once daily, usually at night. You simply brush the serum along your upper lash line and avoid getting the product in your eyes. This is the routine most people follow with OTC or prescription serums:
- Clean Your Face: before applying an eyelash serum, make sure your face is clean and free of any makeup. Cosmetics and skincare products can reduce serum absorption.
- Apply The Serum: most eyelash serums come with an applicator brush that looks like a liquid eyeliner brush or a mascara wand. For OTC products, dip the brush into the serum but making don’t overload it. Carefully apply it to the base of your upper eyelashes. If you are using prescription serum, use one of the disposable brushes per eye. Place a drop of the product onto the brush and then apply it to the top of the upper lash line. In both cases, don’t apply the serum to your lower lashes; blinking will naturally transfer serum there.
- Let it Dry: wait 15 minutes for the serum to dry before applying skincare or makeup.
- Be Consistent: the key to seeing results is consistency. Most brands recommend using the product once a day. Skipping days can delay or reduce results.
- Be Patient: remember that results aren’t immediate. Most people report seeing changes after about four weeks of regular use. However, it can take up to three months for full effects.
- Follow The Instructions: always follow the manufacturer’s or for prescription products your doctor’s instructions.
When Will You See Results From Eyelash Serums For Growth
This depends on the product and your individual lash growth cycle. With daily use, some people start to notice results within four weeks with prescription serums. However, it can take up to three months to see full results. Using an eyelash serum is a fairly straight forward process but does require consistency and patience to see results.
Eyelash serums can be a great addition to your beauty routine. Whether you’re seeking to protect and nourish your lashes or boost their length and volume, there’s a product out there that can cater to your needs. It’s important to note that the efficacy of these products can vary greatly, with some users reporting visible growth and fullness, whilst others may see little to no effect. As with any beauty product, it’s crucial to pay attention to the ingredient list. Choose a product appropriate for your needs and sensitivities and use the product as directed by the makers. Lastly, bear in mind that while these serums can promote the health and appearance of your existing eyelashes, they are unlikely to generate new hair follicles. Therefore, their effects are not permanent and will slowly revert if you stop using the product.
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