Lash Growth Products That Work

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Eyelash growth-enhancing products are being sold by an ever-growing number of cosmetics companies. Despite their trendiness, these types of products have been around for some time without any success because they were largely nothing more than empty promises as false as their models' fake lashes.

All that changed when Allergan launched Latisse (about $160 for a two month supply), a prescription-only product for growing eyelashes. And it works! After applying it to the upper lash line nightly for a several weeks most women will grow longer, thicker lashes than they ever thought possible. A lash-growing product that really works (and works fast) doesn't happen every day—and Latisse is the real deal!  Read More Below

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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 originally stood apart not only because it costs considerably less than Latisse but it did, at least in theory, work to grow lashes.

We wrote "did" because not too long ago the company that manufactures RapidLash had to remove the ingredient (isopropyl cloprostenate) that is likely what allowed it to produce Latisee-like results for a fraction of the cost. This was battled out in court, and ultimately Allergan won because they were able to prove products like original formula RapidLash functioned more like drugs (such as Allergan's Latisse), not cosmetics. The consumer was the real loser, though, because as a result of this lawsuit, prescription-only Latisse is now the only game in town when it comes to successfully growing longer, thicker eyelashes.

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, the latest version of RapidLash, 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.

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!

(Additional 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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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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