Do Eyelash Serums Work? 5 Facts About Lash Serums That Actually Work

You want longer lashes but you’re rightfully wary of marketing claims. Which brings you to the ultimate question: do eyelash serums work?

Because let’s face it – the beauty industry has been known to lie. And you already know that as important as your lashes are, the number of realistic solutions to keeping them thick, dark, and long are far and few between. 

But what if you finally took the advice your yoga teacher has been preaching for years. That is, what if you stopped looking for solutions externally and tackled your lackluster lashes from the inside-out?

If you haven’t already guessed, we’re talking about eyelash growth serums. But do eyelash growth serums really help you grow fuller, longer lashes with just regular application and a few key ingredients?

Here’s what you need to know…

Do Lash Serums Work?

It seems like a simple question: do lash serums actually work? But it’s not a simple answer because the answer depends on what lash serum you’re referring to.

You see, not all growth serums are created equal. How your growth serum works on your lashes depends on the type of serum you’re using. 

Duh, you say. But here’s what we mean. We can group eyelash growth serums into three categories:

  1. Prescription lash serums, aka Latisse
  2. Lash serums containing prostaglandin analogs
  3. Lash conditioners

Let’s go over the differences and what you can expect of each kind.

Prescription Lash Serums

Prescription serums like the famous Latisse contain medicinal ingredients making them far more potent than your over the counter options. Of course, obtaining these powerful lash growth serums therefore requires an accompanying medical condition, such as hypotrichosis (aka inadequate lashes). 

best latisse alternative

Sure, quite a few doctors will prescribe Latisse for you without such a condition but getting your hands on Latisse still requires a doctor’s visit.

Not to mention, it’s not typically covered by insurance so a little bottle of the stuff will run you around $100.

Lash Serums with Prostaglandins

Prescription serums like Latisse have been clinically proven to work because they contain medicinal ingredients that have the side effect of causing massive lash growth. The ingredients responsible for this are prostaglandins, which are essentially lipid compounds that have hormone-like effects.

You can think of it like a growth hormone for lashes.

And while lash serums like Latisse are still only available with a prescription, there’s been a growing supply of over-the-counter Latisse alternatives – essentially, lash serums that contain a prostaglandin analog.

These lash serums are easy to get your hands on and available over the counter, but contains the prostaglandin analogs used in the prescription lash serums – you know, the ones responsible for boosting dramatic lash growth.

Easier to get your hands on then the prescription, these Latisse alternatives give you the best of both worlds.

By that, we mean you get the prostaglandin analogs proven to result in dramatic lash growth without the need for a doctor’s visit or a prescription.

Over the Counter

Over the counter growth serums, sans the only active ingredients clinically proven to enhance lashes, work a little differently.

We typically refer to these lash serums as “lash conditioners” because instead of relying on growth hormones, they use cosmetic ingredients, including natural and organic-based products, to nourish, condition, and moisturize your lashes and hair follicles. 

The thought behind this strategy is simple: healthier lashes grow better. Keeping your hair follicles hydrated and healthy means less damage, breakage, and shedding.

The best of these lash conditioners are packed with additional ingredients to trigger your follicles, rid your lash line of bacteria, and promote healthier skin along the lash line.

What’s the Most Effective Lash Serum?

While you might have already guessed, the most effective lash serums are the prescription types. Following these, over the counter Latisse alternative options containing prostaglandin analogs are your best option.

So what are these magical, medicinal ingredients we’ve been referring to and why are they so effective for lash growth? Let’s do a quick recap. 

They’re called prostaglandins, and they work by effecting your natural lash growth cycle.

Eyelashes grow and shed in three phases that span anywhere from four to eight months. These are the anagen (active), catagen (transition), and telogen (resting) phases:

  • The anagen phase is when your lashes are actively growing (4-6 weeks)
  • The catagen phase is when they’ve stopped growing and your hair follicles begin to shrink (2-3 weeks)
  • The final phase, the telogen phase, is a resting period wherein your lash will naturally fall out (approximately 100 days)

Prostaglandins essentially work by extending the anagen phase of the growth cycle. By keeping the hair follicles open and in the growth phase of the cycle, your lashes have a chance to grow longer, thicker, and darker. 

In some cases, prostaglandins have been shown to quadruple the length, fullness, and even the darkness of lashes. And, of course, the less adequate your lashes are to begin with, the more of a dramatic change you’re going to notice. 

Indeed, these ingredients are so incredibly powerful that you should be careful to not get the serums on parts of your face that you don’t want to stimulate hair growth – doing otherwise can result in eyebrows that are actually too long or even the growth of lash hairs where there shouldn’t be any!

Which Prostaglandins are Best?

Latisse is currently the only FDA-approved prescription product for growing luscious lashes. Latisse uses a structural prostaglandin analog known as bimatoprost in their formula. 

In one double-blind, randomized clinical trial, researchers concluded that bimatoprost is capable of safely and effectively enhancing the thickness, length, and darkness of eye lashes.

Latisse Before and After

However, as mentioned, Latisse is only available by prescription. Meaning that, only individuals suffering from the medical condition hypotrichosis can obtain it. 

Alternatively, many brands have created lash serums that use other prostaglandin analogs in their formulas. As a rule, lash serums that contain any kind of prostaglandin are effective in growing longer, thicker lashes.

With that in mind, rather than focus on the type of prostaglandin in your lash growth serum, focus on the quantity. You’ll want to be sure that your serum contains enough of the active ingredient to be effective. 

Look for serums that list these ingredients closer to the beginning of the ingredients label, and keep in mind that they might be labeled as Isopropyl Cloprostenate, Prostaglandin I.C., Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenolamide, and Methylamido Dihydro Noralfaprostal (MDN)

Which Lash Serum Is Best for Me?

While lash serums formulated with prostaglandins and their analogs are scientifically-proven to be the most effective, they may not be the right choice for you. Here’s what we mean…

What color are your eyes?

For those with light-colored eyes, prostaglandins pose a particularly unique risk. While these formulations work to darken your lashes, there’s a possibility it could also darken your irises.

If that’s not a risk you’re willing to take, then you’ll want to avoid these types of growth serums and stick to lash conditioners.

How sensitive are you?

Similarly, people with sensitive eyes might want to avoid prostaglandins. As a medical ingredient, it’s rather powerful and can cause redness and irritation so people prone to sensitivities might do better with a conditioning serum with more nourishing and natural ingredients.

The right lash growth serum for you, then, is any one that balances longer lashes and denser growth with safe ingredients that don’t cause irritation or potentially permanent side effects.

Look for serums containing growth-promoting ingredients such as vitamins, soy proteins, and peptides, as well as ingredients that protect and strengthen your lashes, such as hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and antioxidants.

How to Make Any Lash Serum More Effective

Whichever lash growth serum you opt for, it only works if you’re consistent. That means that you’ll have to apply your growth serum faithfully, every evening, before going to bed. 

And, of course, if you’re looking for a more holistic solution that works from the deepest layers of the inside-out, you might go double duty and combine the lash growth serum with a dietary supplements such as biotin.

Biotin is an alternative to over the counter and prescription option that can be taken orally and without any known side effects. These supplements both encourage hair growth and prevent hair loss. 

By now you’re well aware that the question “do eyelash serums work” is the wrong one to be asking. Although your prescription and over the counter options both, technically, “work”, they work differently.

Where one contains medicinal ingredients that are clinically-proven to lengthen and thicken lashes, serums without prostaglandins work by promoting better lash and follicle health.

Which is right for you depends on many factors, including your eye color, sensitivities, and degree of loyalty to more organic and natural products.