Do Eyelash Growth Serums Really Work?

For many people, having long and lustrous eyelashes is the dream. You can achieve this goal quickly and easily with fake lashes or by investing in eyelash extensions or a lash lift. However, there are also products that claim to stimulate lash growth and give you an overall thicker look. These products, from everyday castor oil to high-end formulated products, can range in price. So, do eyelash growth serums really work? The best way to find stand-out products is to understand how your eyelashes grow. 

You're born with hair follicles surrounding your eyes, but your eyelashes grow and fall out in a cycle. "There are three phases to eyelash growth: the anagen (active), catagen (transition), and telogen (resting)," optometrist Pamela A. Lowe, O.D., told Self. "Each individual lash undergoes a phase at different times. On average, replacement of a single lash is anywhere from four to eight months," she added. The Lash Lounge explains that different people's lash cycles can vary, but it's typical to shed one to five natural eyelashes every day. Nurturing your lashes in the growing stages can help to strengthen and thicken them, which, in turn, may make them look longer and thicker in the transition and resting phases.

Now that we know how our eyelashes grow, let's look at how serums work on them.

Do eyelash growth serums work?

If you're investing time and money into a product, you'll want to know if it'll have the desired effects. However, Byrdie writes that there's no straightforward answer as to whether eyelash growth serums work. The outlet says that although serums can help to strengthen and nourish your lashes by exposing them to peptides and collagen, they don't necessarily improve lash growth.

Chatelaine notes that many so-called lash growth serums include ingredients that will condition your lashes, but don't actually encourage growth. "Most lash serums have a combination of vitamins and oils in them which help to protect the lashes from everyday life such as pollution," senior day spa therapist Hollie Bennett told Metro. "It is these vitamins and oils that work to strengthen the hair follicles and improve each individual lash's health." Ilyse Haberman, MD, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at NYU Langone, told Cosmopolitan a similar story. "Lash conditioners may help strengthen lashes, prevent them from breaking, or lightly swell them so they look a little thicker," she said. 

Bennett, however, seems optimistic about the efficacy of these types of serums. "While lash serums do seem too good to be true, in my past experience they have been very beneficial for anyone who wants to give their lashes a boost," she said.

There is only one FDA-approved eyelash serum

Many skincare brands have expanded their ranges in recent years to cater to the growing demand for eyelash growth serums. However, there's only one FDA-approved eyelash growth serum in the U.S.

Latisse is a prescription-strength eyelash serum that includes the active ingredient bimatoprost. This helps to promote growth in your existing lashes as well as encourage new hairs to grow. The ingredients in Latisse were originally meant to treat glaucoma, but after patients saw a steady growth in their eyelashes, the FDA tested (and approved) it for the public to use as a prescription eyelash serum, per the Mayo Clinic. 

While Latisse has been proven to work, it does come with side effects. Itchy, red eyes and a darkness around the eye are potential impacts of the product, and some have even had their eye color permanently change. So before you run out to purchase Latisse, speak to your doctor and discuss its possible side effects and if it's the right product for you.

Over-the-counter treatments you can try

Latisse isn't the only eyelash serum on the market that comes with strong recommendations. Lancôme Cils Booster Lash Revitalizing Serum has been listed as a great option for damaged or brittle lashes. According to Cosmopolitan, this serum works to strengthen and hydrate dry lashes in just four weeks.

Similarly, GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum claims to provide "essential support for the lashes that increase their length and thickness." While this product takes a bit longer – All Beauty says to apply the serum to your upper lash line once a day for three months, and then every 2 days to maintain — it is ophthalmologist-approved, a rarity among over-the-counter eyelash serums.

Lashes to Die For Turbo Nighttime Eyelash Treatment by Peter Thomas Roth is also a heavier product that includes Tahitian plankton, biotin, peptides, and aloe vera to boost the volume of your lashes. Vichy's LiftActiv Eyes and Lashes Serum is a well-reviewed product that's slightly more affordable, coming in at just under $20.

Are eyelash serums safe to use?

While Latisse is the only eyelash growth serum that has been tested and approved, it doesn't mean you need to steer clear of over-the-counter options. If used correctly, per Byrdie, eyelash serums are completely safe to use. Always make sure you are applying it to clean eyelashes and try to avoid using it while wearing contacts.

Still, like any product, some people will experience complications with these serums. According to Health, watch for any itchiness or irritation around the eye. If you do experience this, you may want to cut back on the serum, using it a few times a month rather than every day. Byrdie adds that if you experience more intense side effects like a change in pigmentation around the eyes, unwanted hair growth, or reduced eye pressure, to stop using the product and contact your doctor. If you do opt to use an eyelash growth serum, consider using one that contains biotin, peptides, or lipids. And if you end up experiencing sensitivity to the serum, there is always mascara to create that long-lash look.