Published Jan 2, 2024

Do eyelash growth serums work?

Jake Bissaro
Written by
Jake Bissaro
Dr. Sudip Bose
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Sudip Bose
Close up of woman's eyelashes looking down
Published Jan 2, 2024

Key points:

  1. Thinning eyelashes can stem from a range of conditions. This includes hypotrichosis, a hereditary form of hair loss.
  2. Despite significant social media marketing, popular eyelash serums like RevitaLash and Olaplex are not FDA-approved.
  3. Research-backed eyelash treatments extend the eyelashes’ growth phase and can make them thicker, longer and darker.

For many people, eyelashes decrease in length, thickness and color concentration as we age. But there’s often more behind eyelash loss than aging—and more to eyelashes than their appearance. Eyelashes protect our eyes from debris that can cause injuries or infections. They can also act as “air filters” to keep eyes lubricated.

The good news is that prescription eyelash serums are more accessible than ever.

Here’s more on what causes eyelash thinning. Plus, how a $15 online consultation from Dr. B can help you get an effective eyelash growth prescription treatment.

What causes thin eyelashes?

Loss of eyelashes can have a range of possible causes.

One possible cause is congenital hypotrichosis—or hypotrichosis simplex. This type of hereditary hair loss is extremely rare, causing hair thinning or loss in fewer than 1,000 Americans. Hypotrichosis can occur just in scalp hair or affect skin and hair on the whole body. People with the condition usually grow hair as expected during infancy and begin to experience symptoms during early childhood.

Other causes of eyelash loss include:

  • Alopecia areata: This autoimmune condition causes the body to attack its hair follicles.
  • Blepharitis: Blepharitis occurs when eyelids become swollen and inflamed, which can cause eyelashes to fall out.
  • Trichotillomania: This mental health condition includes compulsively pulling out hair on the head, eyelashes or eyebrows.
  • Medications: Blood thinners and overactive thyroid drugs may cause eyelash loss.

How do lash serums work?

Effective eyelash serums use an ingredient similar to prostaglandin. This naturally occurring chemical extends the lash growth cycle. (Called the anagen phase.)

Prostaglandin analog medications were first introduced in the 1990s as a glaucoma treatment. During trials, many patients noticed they had thicker, darker lashes as a side effect.

Today, Latisse (and generic Bimatoprost) is the only FDA-approved prostaglandin analog eyelash serum. Studies have shown that Bimatoprost effectively improves eyelash length, luster, thickness and darkening in as little as one week. Both forms come as a liquid solution applied with an applicator along the base of the upper lash line.

Are eyelash serums safe?

Those who wear contact lenses should remove them before applying the serum, then wait 15 minutes before putting them back in. Otherwise, Latisse and Bimatoprost are safe for most people. When side effects do occur, they’re often mild.

But potential side effects include:

  • Eye redness, itching and inflammation
  • Cataracts (a clouding in an area of the eye)
  • Dark circles around the eye

What are some common OTC lash serums?

Type “lash growth” into TikTok, and you’ll find a range of videos promising thicker, longer lashes. Celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Ariana Grande have attached their name to serums that promise celebrity-level results.

Many serums contain some form of prostaglandins. But most are conditioners that use hyaluronic acid and biotin to make lashes appear longer, thicker and darker. These products are largely unregulated—and haven’t been subjected to clinical trials. So take precautions when using them to avoid unwanted side effects.

Make sure you:

  • Read the complete instructions and use only as directed.
  • Eyelash growth serums may bother sensitive skin or allergies. So talk to your medical provider before you start an OTC treatment.
  • If you experience side effects like itchy eyes or unwanted hair growth, stop using the product immediately and talk to your medical provider.

Banner advertising Dr. B's services for hypotrichosis treatments

Can I get a prescription for Latisse or Bimatoprost online?

Ready to grow longer, fuller lashes? Start an online eyelash growth consultation with Dr. B.

Share your health history and current symptoms. A licensed provider will review your treatment. If appropriate, they’ll send a Latisse or Bimatoprost prescription to your chosen pharmacy.

Whether you’re dealing with medication side effects, hypotrichosis or another condition affecting your eyelash hair shaft, we’re here to help!

Sources

Allergan, Inc. (2012). Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic) solution label NDA 22-369/S-005.

Amador, G.J., et al. (2015). Eyelashes divert airflow to protect the eye. Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Ester, S.T., et al. (2010). Eyelash growth from application of Bimatoprost in gel suspension to the base of the eyelashes. Ophthalmology.

Glaser, D.A., et al. (2014). Epidemiologic analysis of change in eyelash characteristics with increasing age in a population of healthy women. Dermatologic Surgery.

Jordan, D.R. (2007). Eyelash Loss. Seminars in Plastic Surgery.

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. (2023). Hypotrichosis simplex.

Norton, D.J., et al. (2016). Eyelash loss secondary to escitalopram but not to sertraline: A case report. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders.

Sachdev, M., et al. (2020). An open-table, single-center, safety and efficacy study of eyelash polygrowth factor serum. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology.

Yoelin, S., et al. (2010). Safety, effectiveness and subjective experience with topical Bimatoprost 0.03% for eyelash growth. Dermatologic Surgery.

Back to all articles

Sign up for the free Dr. B newsletter for a weekly report on the latest in healthcare + research-based advice for staying healthy and mentally well.