How many times have we spent hours in the mirror, going through our assortment of mascara and false eyelashes all in an effort to leave the house with long, dark, and thick eyelashes? As a result of this consumer demand, the last few years have seen a steady rise in the number of eyelash growth serums. These products have been touted as the secret to long and healthy natural lashes.
Many people believe that eyelash growth serums are the most natural options when it comes to achieving long and healthy eyelashes. However, some people are a little skeptical about their effectiveness. The idea that these serums can help you achieve fluttering eyelashes seems a little too good to be true. Aside from the question of their effectiveness, just how safe are these products that are applied so close to the eye?
In order to understand the overall effectiveness, use, and potential side effects, it’s important to first understand how eyelashes work and why people often seek out the use of eyelash serums.
What you need to know about eyelashes
What is their function?
It may be hard to believe but eyelashes aren’t present to enhance the natural beauty of your eyes. They have a real function, that’s integral to eye health.
The function of eyelashes is to protect the eyes from external toxins that may enter the eye and cause harm. This includes small particles such as dust, sand or debris.
How do they grow?
When it comes to their growth cycle, eyelashes have three stages of life.
Anagen (growth) phase
Also known as the growth phase, the anagen phase is where the eyelashes are actively growing. It lasts between 30 and 45 days and during this phase, only about 40% of the upper lashes and 15% of the lower lashes are growing at any one time. Each lash will grow to a specific length and then stop. Here, each lash grows from a little bud to a specific length before stopping.
Catagen (transition) phase
During the catagen phase, the eyelash stops growing and the hair follicle shrinks. It should be noted that if an eyelash falls out during the catagen phase. This is because the follicle needs to complete the catagen phase before it can move on to the next one. This phase lasts between two and three weeks.
Telogen (resting) phase
The telogen phase is the final, resting. Here, eyelashes naturally fall out as the hair follicle has completely shrunk, in order to return to the anagen phase. The phase can last between 90 and 120 days.
What’s making your eyelashes fall out?
As we’ve pointed out, it’s quite normal to be losing a few eyelashes now and then. However, if you find that you’re losing your lashes in clumps on a regular basis, then you may have a problem. So what could cause your eyelashes to fall out? Let’s find out.
1. Flawed Beauty Hacks
A flawed beauty routine cannot only cause breakouts, but it may also cause your eyelashes to fall out.
For one, you should never, ever sleep with your make upon. This will only cause a host of problems, not limited to bacterial infections and breakouts. Going to bed with mascara still on your lashes can cause eyelashes to dry out and can also cause inflammation around the eye area. Over time, they’ll become brittle and eventually break off. It’s also important to regularly change your mascara every three months as not doing so may lead to bacterial infections around the eye.
It’s also important to remember that when you do remove your mascara before bed, do so gently. Aggressive rubbing may cause your lashes to fall off. Instead of vigorously rubbing at your eyes, use a gentle, oil-based makeup remover, along with a cotton pad, to get rid of all the makeup around your eye area.
2. Poor product choice
Eyelash curlers are one of the products used to give your lashes a more enhanced look. However, if done for longer than 20 seconds or too often, they can irritate the lashes, raising the risk of them falling out.
Eyelash extensions are glued to the root of one’s actual eyelashes. Whilst they enhance your look, the tension may also cause loss of lashes. It’s best to not use the products too often and to give your eyelashes a break.
Furthermore, Dr. Kamlen Pillay, an aesthetic doctor and the Medical Director of the Wembley MediSpa in Cape Town, South Africa, also adds how mascara use may affect the health of your lashes.
“Mascara is the main culprit for moisture loss within your lashes, which leads to your lashes drying out, and they begin to weaken” he explains, “If your eyelashes lack moisture, they are prone to breakage. Moisture is the key to healthy lashes, just like your skin needs moisture too.”
3. Medical condition
Medical conditions that may affect your eyelashes, eyebrows and other places with body hair include madarosis, a thyroid condition, viral infections, excessive stress, and alopecia areata.
How Does Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
The main purpose of eyelash serums is to volumize the hair itself as well as stimulate hair follicles in order for the lash to grow. It’s also used to add moisture back to the lashes.
“Numerous studies have shown that mineral and plant ingredients do work the best to enhance lash growth. Most eyelash serums are rich in essential oils and vitamins, which work great on lashes” states Dr. Pillay.
As a result, serums often contain a variety of ingredients that help to enhance the health and length of your lashes. So which ingredients are often found in serums? Biotin, peptides, and collagen.
“Biotin is a B vitamin and helps lashes grow longer and thicker and stimulates the growth of additional eyelash follicles” he goes on, “A peptide is simply a chain of amino acids. Peptides nourish, condition, and strengthen frail and brittle lashes. Eyelashes, just like hair, are made up of protein, as well as amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein, as they help to nourish and repair the damage. This is one of the key ingredients eyelash growth serums should have.” And what about collagen? “Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It does everything from repairing damaged strands to plumping sagging skin and wrinkles, and it is an ingredient in many lash-growth formulas.”
So, do they work?
According to a study published in the journal Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, the effectiveness of eyelash growth serums may not be so far-fetched.
The study examined and revealed the effectiveness of the eyelash growth serum, Latisse. Latisse contains the ingredient bimatoprost, which was originally developed as a treatment for eye pressure. According to the study’s results, bimatoprost safely and effectively grew natural eyelashes by extending the anagen phase. This then resulted in longer, thicker, and darker lashes.
With these results in mind, it’s no wonder that Latisse is the only FDA-approved treatment for effective eyelash growth. Additionally, the only noted side-effects associated with the product are discoloration on the eyelids and the iris.
However, it should be noted that Latisse contains a regulated drug. Therefore, you’ll need a doctor’s prescription if you want to use it to get long lashes. As a result, plenty of websites and stores are willingly selling generic or Latisse-like products.
Are eyelash growth serums safe?
Whilst the effectiveness of all eyelash serums still needs to be determined, there is also the question of their safety.
For one, last year a group of consumers filed a class-action lawsuit against Rodan & Fields, stating that their lash enhancing product, Lash Boost, left them with red, puffy, and sometimes crusty eyes.
Secondly, it’s also important to be careful about how you apply eyelash growth serums.
“The perfect eyelash growth serum which has a small, narrow pointy brush tip, are the best and the most effective applicators” explains Dr. Pillay, “When you apply the serum onto the lash line, the active ingredients will penetrate through the skin directly into the lash roots. The eyelash follicles will be nourished and moisturized so that they can produce long and healthy lashes.”
Can everybody use eyelash growth serums?
Whilst eyelash growth serums are relatively safe, it may not be suitable for every person to use them. For one, if you have sensitive eyes or are undergoing chemotherapy, you should not use the growing serums. Additionally, you should stay clear of the serums if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Lastly, always read the labels. Do this to ensure that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients used.
How else can I grow my eyelashes?
There is growing lore that castor oil can help to enhance the length of one’s lashes. Castor oil is rich in ricinoleic acid and omega 6 essential fatty acids. They both encourage blood flow. As a result, they may be able to promote the growth of your lashes. However, there are not enough studies that have proven its effectiveness. At most, castor oil will simply provide that enhanced look that mascara is often credited with.
Should you invest in an eyelash growth serum?
When it comes to trying out eyelash serums, you need to first assure its safety. Dr. Pillay recommends that you make sure the product has undergone many tests to ensure it is safe for eyelashes and skin. This should be stated on the product. Secondly, you need to be sure that you’ll be entirely committed to using the product.
“Normally, eyelash growth serum treatment lasts 12 weeks” explains Dr. Pillay, “You should be able to see results within the first month if used regularly. To get the best results, always apply the product according to the manufacturers’ instructions on the packaging.” Lastly, you should not get pulled into the idea that the more expensive the product is, the more efficient it will be on your lashes,
“The truth is that these extremely expensive eyelash growth serums do not work any better than the averagely priced ones,” warns Dr. Pillay, “it is important to realize that effective eyelash growth serum has to contain many vitamins and active agents that require it to work effectively.”
That said, which eyelash growth serum should you add to your vanity bag? Well, the RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner is a great option as it is rich in peptides, and we know that that can help to encourage lash growth. Pronexa Hairgenics Lavish Lash is another great product that’s rich in biotin and other peptides and can also be used on your eyebrows.