Eyelash growth serums typically contain ingredients that promote and extend the growth phase of hair, such as prostaglandins and peptides. In general, eyelashes grow for about 3 months before falling out and being replaced by new hairs.
There are various over-the-counter eyelash serums available; however, the only FDA-approved eyelash growth product is called Latisse (generic: Bimatoprost solution 0.3%). This is a synthetic prostaglandin. Although the exact mechanism in which this product works is not known, it is thought to increase the percentage of hairs and duration of the hairs in the growth phase, also referred to as the anlagen phase.
Eyelash serums that are promoted for growth may also contain ingredients that nourish and lubricate the hair. This may be beneficial in those experiencing thinning eyelashes due to trauma, normal aging or as a result of other skin conditions.
I often caution patients with fair or light colored eyes from using certain eyelash growth serums as some of these products may in fact darken your natural eye color. In some cases, this may be permanent darkening of the iris of the eye. Individuals with sensitive skin, history of allergic rashes and eczema should exercise caution when using eyelash serums as they may trigger eczema-like rashes, itching, eye redness and eyelid skin darkening. Prior to starting an eyelash growth serum, I recommend discussing with your dermatologist the benefits and potential side effects of using the products. Remember the eyelid skin is extremely delicate, thin and sensitive to allergic reactions. It may be worth testing new products on your forearm prior to application on the eyelid.
Peptides: These are the building blocks of hair. This ingredient is essential for normal hair growth.
Prostaglandins: Function as local hormones that function in hair growth and differentiation from its immature form to mature hair follicles.
Glycerin: Functions as a humectant, draws in moisture and helps to lubricate the hair shaft.
Biotin: This water-soluble vitamin is key for hair health. Deficiency of Biotin, among other vitamins (i.e. Vitamin D) may cause hair thinning and hair breakage.
When applying the eyelash serum, make sure you apply the serum directly to the eyelashes and avoid contact with the upper and lower eyelid. If you do get the serum on the skin, use a gentle cleansing wipe and prevent any skin irritation.
If you have a history of cataracts, glaucoma and/or pre-existing eye conditions, it is important to talk to either your dermatologist or ophthalmologist.