Lash Growth Products That Work
Our Experts Recommend
A Happy Accident
Much the way Botox was found to work for wrinkles, the same story is true for Latisse. Botox was discovered by an eye doctor treating patients for eye tics. The doctor noticed not only did Botox injections stop the twitching but the patients also had less wrinkles around their eyes. Latisse's saga is almost identical. Here's what happened: Latisse's active ingredient is 0.03% bimatoprost, a drug whose actual chemical name is (Z)-7-[(1R,2R,3R,5S)-3,5-Dihydroxy-2-[(1E,3S)-3-hydroxy-5-phenyl-1-pentenyl]cyclopentyl]-5-N-ethylheptenamide. This nearly indecipherable ingredient is used for treating glaucoma or ocular hypertension under the brand name Lumigan. Just as with Botox, ophthalmologists just happened to notice that when their patients started using this medication as eye drops that their glaucoma got better and their eyelashes grew longer, darker, and fuller. Go figure!
Lash Growth Comes with Caveats
But of course there are risks. Latisse is a prescription-only medication for good reason! Minor side effects some users may experience include itching, inflammation, a burning sensation, and redness that can be persistent (but it will stop if you discontinue use).
A far more serious but rarely-occurring side effect with Latisse is that it can increase blood flow to the eye making capillaries (the red in reddened eyes) look far more pronounced. It can also darken the eyelid or skin under the eye, which can be reversible but in rare cases may stick around indefinitely. Although not reflected in clinical studies, it's been reported that Latisse use may also cause increased brown pigmentation of the iris, which is the colored part of the eye, and this color change is likely to be permanent. All of these risks are heightened if a consumer purchases Latisse (or what they think is Latisse) over the Internet without a prescription. Even more of a concern are those people who are using the actual glaucoma medication itself to grow lashes, as it's more potent and carries an increased risk of all the side effects mentioned above.
Latisse vs. RapidLash
RapidLash is another cosmetic product claiming to grow lashes. Like many companies with their version of lash-growing products, RapidLash wants to compete with Latisse. Most of these Latisse-wannabes are nothing more than colorless liquid eyeliners with some peptides or exotic plant extracts thrown in that have no research showing they can affect lash growth. RapidLash stands apart not only because it costs considerably less than Latisse but it does, at least in theory, work to grow lashes.
A serious distinction between Latisse and RapidLash is that Latisse is a prescription-only drug. Therefore, it is subjected by the FDA to intense scrutiny, proof of safety, and proof of efficacy. Because RapidLash is a cosmetic, it is not subject to these same requirements. Rocasuba, the company that distributes RapidLash, has done some amount of their own testing, but it pales in comparison to the level of testing Latisse went through to prove what it can and can't do and what risks accompany its benefits.
Claims for RapidLash are carefully worded so they remain strictly cosmetic and not like a drug but here's the difference: RapidLash does contain an ingredient that quite possibly allows it to work like Latisse. The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatoprost, but RapidLash contains an ingredient called isopropyl cloprostenate, which has some distant molecular similarities to bimatoprost. While there is no published research showing isopropyl cloprostenate can grow lashes, its relation to bimatoprost clearly exists. This association is the likely explanation behind RapidLash's runaway success: It costs less than Latisse and many find it works just as well.
Given there is evidence that RapidLash could work similarly to Latisse, it is therefore possible that the same side effects associated with Latisse could occur when using RapidLash or other lash growth products with similar ingredients, such as RevitaLash. The company selling RapidLash says they have no research or evidence showing the side effects possible from Latisse exist for their product, but their research is not reviewed by the FDA nor are they required to perform the mandatory safety and efficacy tests for drugs required by federal law. However, it is reassuring that the company has made the efforts to ensure the safety of RapidLash, and they willingly provided these documents to us.
Not All Lash Growth Products are Created Equal!
What about the other cosmetic products claiming to grow lashes? Most of them are little more than hairspray with exotic plant extracts, while some contain peptides claiming to grow hair. What products like Marini Lash and L'Oreal's Double Extend Lash Boosting Serum all share is not a shred of research showing they do anything but shrink your wallet and stretch reality. Lastisse may be pricey and require a trip to the doctor, but it's the only lash growth product on the market with substantiated research to back its claims. RapidLash Eyelash Renewal Serum and RevitaLash Advanced are alternatives but because they're cosmetics, not drugs, they're not subject to the same level of regulatory scrutiny.
Whether you decide to try a lash growth product or not is up to you. It's certainly possible to get outstanding results from other, potentially safer methods, including mascara and, if you have the time for the necessary upkeep, lash extensions. In the end, despite the impressive results certain lash growth products can provide, there's more than one way to have the long, thick, lashes you want!
(Sources: Ophthalmology, February 2010, E-Pub; www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS122104+18-Jul-2008+BW20080718; Elixir, November 2007; Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology, November 2006, pages 755–764; Ophthalmology, August 2004, pages 1480-1488; Dermatology Online Journal, June 2003: 7; Drugs of Today, January 2003, pages 61–74.)
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