A Guide to Eyelash Serums
No makeup regimen is truly finished without enhancing your lashes. In fact, for many, lashes often take the spotlight in their everyday makeup ritual. While options like eyelash extensions and false lashes might provide a temporary solution, many are turning to the world of eyelash serums for a more natural and healthier approach to enhance lash growth.
Eyelash serums are gaining immense popularity, with countless views and discussions on social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok under tags like 'lash serum' and 'best lash serum'.
But, how secure are these products? And what precisely do they contain? Let's delve into an exploration of the two primary classifications of lash serums.
- Prostaglandin Analog Containing Serums
- Peptide Serums
Prostaglandin Analogues (PGA):
The first wave of lash serums to hit the market contained prostaglandin analogues. These serums revolutionised the beauty industry by introducing a new approach to enhancing lash growth.
Prostaglandin analogues, initially developed for glaucoma treatment, demonstrated an unexpected side effect: they made patients' lashes grow longer and thicker. These drugs are not approved for use in eyelash serums in Australia, and their use may lead to serious side effects.
This side effect has become a selling point for many over-the-counter (OTC) eyelash serums, and their popularity has surged on social media.
The Side Effects:
- Eyelid and Skin hyperpigmentation/discolouration (which can be permanent)
- Iris hyperpigmentation/discolouration (which can be permanent)
- Growth of unwanted hairs from the inner corners of the eye and eyelid
- Red eyes
- Dry eyes
- Loss of fatty tissue around the eyes
- Deep orbital sulci (sunken eye appearance)
- Cystoid macular edema.
Additionally, more than 90% of glaucoma patients using PGA-class medications develop meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), compared to only 58% using other classes of glaucoma medications. This means that PGA-laced OTC eyelash growth serums products can cause not only the typical PGA-associated changes but also MGD in users.
The pioneer in this category was Latisse, the very first prescription-only lash serum. Its remarkable success paved the way for over-the-counter alternatives that incorporated synthetic prostaglandin analogues. Cosmetic companies quickly capitalized on this trend, launching their versions of lash serums to meet the growing demand for longer lashes.
Synthetic Prostaglandin Analogues
One alarming fact is that these synthetic prostaglandins can often be difficult to identify on cosmetic packaging. Many serums do not explicitly highlight these active ingredients, and their chemical names can be complex and challenging to decipher. To make informed decisions, consumers must familiarize themselves with the following names:
- Isopropyl cloprostenate
- Methylamido Dihydro Noralfaprostal
Eyelash Serums containing Prostaglandin analogues
- Grande Lash
- R+F Lash Boost
- Babe Lash
- Uklash Serum
These serums are formulated with peptides to invigorate lash growth by enhancing keratin production. While research on this specific class of lash growth serums is somewhat limited, their focus lies in strengthening the foundational elements of your natural hair follicles, fostering a more organic growth process. Addressing concerns such as dryness, brittleness, and lack of conditioning, these serums aim to reduce breakage, ultimately contributing to enhanced lash length.
Ingredients in peptide based lash serums include things like:
- Castor oil
- Peptides (Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17)
- Plant extracts like clover or mung bean
- Vitamin E
There is virtually no research on the hair growth effects of castor oil, though it has long been known anecdotally to help with hair growth.
Eyelash Serums containing Peptide
- Vegamour GRO Lash Serum
- LASHFOOD Serum
- Lash Luxury Daily Eyelash Serum
- The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum
Beware of other dangers
Not only can OTC eyelash growth serums pose risks, but other beauty practices can also lead to ocular surface issues. Failing to remove eye makeup at night can contribute to dry eye disease. Research has shown that patients who don't remove their makeup before bedtime experience higher dry eye symptoms.
Even when makeup is removed, some residue might linger, exposing the eyes to harsh chemicals found in makeup removers. For instance, benzalkonium chloride (BAK), a common ingredient in liquid makeup removers, can negatively affect corneal, conjunctival, and goblet cells, potentially exacerbating dry eyes.
First and foremost, I want to emphasise that we will never endorse or use serums containing prostaglandins. The potential risks, such as permanent eyelid discoloration leading to undesirable dark circles and the possibility of exacerbating dry eye conditions, far outweigh any potential benefits. As someone already dealing with dry eyes, I firmly stand against such serums. My recommendation extends to individuals with dry eyes or susceptibility to them, which includes virtually everyone given the prevalence of phone/computer use and contact lens wear.
The peptide eyelash serums, however, presents a more viable option due to the overall safety profile of their ingredients. The primary concern here relates to the occurrence of allergic reactions or irritation on the ocular surface.
So, how do you go about selecting a peptide lash serum?
Here's our suggestion: before incorporating any of these peptide serums into your routine, perform a patch test on your skin. Apply a small amount to the back of your hand or the inside of your wrist and monitor for about a week. If you experience itching, redness, or irritation, it's probably wise to steer clear of that particular serum. On the other hand, if you don't encounter any adverse reactions, then it's time to proceed with applying the serum to your lashes!