Lashes Reborn

eyelashesI’ve never gotten very far by batting my eyelashes, but long, beautiful lashes are still a fashion trend and a symbol of femininity in cultures since ancient times. I’ve even written about the history of lovely lashes that frame our eyes, the windows to our souls (check it out HERE.) Lashes also serve a functional purpose as they protect the eye from debris, and are sensitive to touch, providing a warning if something like an insect, or heaven forbid, a projectile, comes close to the eye. A reflex action causes the eye to close protectively.

From kohl, mascara, false eyelashes, lash extensions, surgical transplantation to topical prescriptions, we go to great lengths for our lashes. Losing lashes due to cancer treatment or auto-immune hair loss can be trying. As we age, our lashes become finer and thinner. I am often asked about options, and topical growth serums like Latisse have become very popular.

Made by Allergan, the company that brought us Botox Cosmetic™, Latisse was FDA approved in early 2009 after studies for safety and efficacy was proven. The active ingredient is a prostaglandin called bimatoprost, which is also used as an eye drop to treat glaucoma. Glaucoma patients noted that their lashes became longer, thicker and darker, and prompted manufacturers to suggest these drops for cosmetic purposes. After daily use of Latisse along the upper lash line for 16 weeks, lash growth is impressive. Brooke Shields, Claire Danes and Christina Hendricks of Mad Men have been celebrity endorsers in media campaigns. Some of our patients and staff have had to trim their eyelashes so that they wouldn’t brush up on sunglasses. Continued use two to three times per week is required to maintain the lashes. If you stop using it, lashes gradually go back to their original state.

Latisse is a prescription, so it requires a doctor’s approval. It costs about $180 for a two to three month supply.

Another available prostaglandin product is Revitalash, made with latanoprost. It has a low concentration of active ingredient and is available over-the-counter.

These products are safe for most people, but should also be avoided by people who have inflammation or infections of the eyelids. Potential side effects exist including eye redness and itchiness, darkening of the skin along the lash line, and brown discoloration of the iris. Change in eye color seems to be the most frightening for patients, though this did not occur during clinical trials of Latisse. It had been reported in rare cases for glaucoma patients using the main ingredient in much higher doses for treating their eye condition.

If you want to avoid prostaglandin medication, Marini Lash Conditioner is cult favorite for its positive effects on lash growth due to special peptides, which are thought to stimulate hair growth in the follicle. Another product called Enormous Lash also contains peptides, though different than those in the Marini formulation, along with Vitamin B5. Customer reviews suggest a 60% satisfaction rate with Enormous Lash.

It’s nice to have options. I wish I remembered to use Latisse more often, because I love the look when I’ve been consistent. And I’m very grateful to have 7 different kinds of mascara in my make-up drawer to make my lashes visible!