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Thick, full, long eyelashes are ...

Posted Jun 10 2009 6:43pm

Long eyelashes

Thick, full, long eyelashes are coveted by all women. Many of us find ways of achieving this by buying and applying mascaras, fake eyelashes, applying eyelash stimulators, going for eyelash extensions, and now Ta-Da! An eyelash growing drug! Now who wouldn’t be interested in getting longer lashes just by dabbing a little prescription medication daily?

The USA FDA has approved Latisse, and it will be available through prescription only from the 1st quarter of 2009. Latisse is manufactured by Allergan, and is the first FDA approved drug to promote eyelash growth. 

A quick history behind Latisse: 

Latisse is a prostaglandin analogue, the active ingredient being bimatoprost. It is indicated for the treatment of hypotrichosis (inadequate or not enough eyelashes) of the eyelashes by increasing their growth including length, thickness, and darkness. Prostaglandin receptors are found in hair, particularly in the dermal papilla and outer root sheath. Although the exact mechanism of action is unknown, prostaglandin receptors are thought to be involved in the development and regrowth of the hair follicle by increasing the percent of hairs in, and the duration of the growth phase of hair.

Bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03% was originally the active ingredient in Lumigan, a prescription medication for glaucoma and also manufactured by Allergan.  One of the side effects of the drug was that when it caused patients eyelashes to grow thicker. Some doctors actually prescribed the eye drops to patients for that purpose, telling them to apply the medication with a Q-Tip to the edge of the eyelid. Cosmetics jumped on the bandwagon and used the drug in their formulation, such as RevitaLash and the original formula of Jan Marini Age Intervention Eyelash. The FDA then stepped in to control the proliferation of products containing such prostaglandin analogs, to the extent that they actually raided one company and seizing its product, saying it was using an unapproved and misbranded drug. Meantime, Allergan was conducting clinical trials on its glaucoma drops for eyelash growth and filed patent infringement lawsuits against several of these cosmetic companies.

Now Jan Marini uses a non-prostaglandin propriety peptide blend eyelash formulation in their product, and is available without prescription (US$160 per tube, lasts approximately 6months per tube). Revitalash  (US$150 per tube, last about 6months per tube) also does not use any prostaglandins in its formulation. 



The most common side effects after using Latisse solution are red eyes and itchiness in 4% of users. Other less common but important side effects of Latisse to be aware of are eye dryness, hyperpigmentation of the skin (where the solution touches), darkening of the iris (especially lighter coloured eyes particularly hazel coloured eyes, and being a permanent effect), and hair growth in the areas that the solution touches. 

The cost of Latisse is about US$120 for a month’s supply. Applied once a day at night, most users report seeing a difference in 8 weeks, and Allergan recommends using it for 16weeks. Apparently, if you discontinue Latisse, your lashes will go back to their original state in a few months.

So far there are no studies supporting the long term safety or effectiveness of either of these products. However, the same drug has been used to treat glaucoma for over 10 years with minimal adverse side effects, and studied by 32 clinical trials with 5700 patients and over 13 years of experience in clinical trials, so Allergan is confident of a similarly favorable safety profile for Latisse.

But the Latisse website has before-after photos which I  can’t download, but they are impressive!


  1. Latisse
  2. WebMD
  3. Allergan press release
  4. Jan Marini Skin Research Eyelash Conditioner
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