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FutureDerm Investigates: What is the Best Eyelash Growth Treatment?

Posted Dec 13 2009 9:01pm

By futurederm Monday December 14, 2009

Nowadays, everywhere you look, women are batting impressive pairs of eyelashes.  Indeed, “eyelashes are the new breasts,” says a friend, “…everyone is looking for a bigger, better pair.”  

With all of the glamorous eye fringe flapping around town, there are naturally more and more products on the shelves, each promising that they are the miracle product creating all the beautiful lashes.  But what is the real cause of the eyelash surge?  FutureDerm investigates…

Photo source: Latisse_Logo, Originally uploaded by Dr_Alan_Bauman


Latisse is a prescription-only treatment formulated with a prostaglanoid called bimatoprost that is clinically proven in a number of reputable studies to increase eyelash growth.  In one published FDA-reviewed clinical trial, approximately 140 volunteers’ eyelashes typically grew 25 percent longer, 106 percent thicker and 18 percent darker with Latisse (bimatoprost) than those in the non-treatment (control) group. According to the New York Times, only 3.6 percent of patients in the Allergan study experienced eye itching and red eyes, and none had a change of eye color.  However, according to Dr. Howard Kaplan, M.D., “[A change in eye color/deposition of brown pigment] is a potential side effect of using Latisse, [though] it is not a common one. Because it’s possible for this side effect to occur, it’s important to weigh the potential risks and benefits of using the product with your physician.”   Indeed, the change in eye color that occurs is likely to be permanent, and speaking to your physician is a must, particularly if you have light-colored eyes.  Other potential risks include a very slight increased risk of glaucoma, although the FDA designated the active ingredient in Latisse (lumigan, a prostaglandin analog) as perfectly safe and unlikely to cause glaucoma (a concern again put to rest in Expert Opinion on Drug Safety).  

Sold for an average $120.00 for a one-month supply, Allergan Latisse is anticipated by some reports to generate over $500 million by March 2010.  With fast and impressive results, as well as celebrity endorsements by Brooke Shields and reported use by Jenny McCarthy, the popularity of Latisse is likely to grow even more within the next few years.  

Likely to work?  10/10


For those who are concerned about changing their eye color or contracting glaucoma, Marini Lash provides a prostaglandin-free alternative (that is, after 2008, when latanoprost was removed from the products).  Jan Marini, president and CEO of Jan Marini Skin Research, sums up the charm of her reformulated namesake eyelash serum best: “With Marini Lash, anyone can have thicker and lusher-appearing lashes without the substantial cost or warning labels that accompany the Latisse prescription product…Neither Marini Lash nor its companion product, Marini Mascara™ Performance Mascara, contain the glaucoma drug in Latisse…” 

Instead, the active ingredients in Marini Lash are the peptides, which are believed to stimulate hair growth at the follicle, according to Dermatologic Clinics.  Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 and Myristoyl Pentapeptide-12, the peptides in Marini Lash, have not specifically been documented to stimulate hair growth in any peer-reviewed, published, independent studies; however, reported in-house studies at Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. document that these peptides are effective.

Despite the lack of mention of Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 and Myristoyl Pentapeptide-12 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, I still like Marini Lash.  After the company sent me a vial of this product and I used it nightly for four weeks, my lashes grew about 20-25% longer!  Other bloggers also provide glowing reviews, like Beauty Girl Musings (with impressive photos) and The Wall Street Journal Health Blog, although some reviewers do not note a change.  

Ingredients in Marini Lash (2008-present): Water (Aqua), Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Proplyparaben, C12-C15 Alkyl Benzoate, Panthenol, Acrylates/C10-C30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17, Myristoyl Tetrapeptide-12, Linoleic Acid, Linolenic Acid, Tocopherol, Biotin, Camellia Sinensis (White Tea) Leaf Extract, Aesculus Hippocastanum (Horse Chestnut) Seed Extract, Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (Cinnamon) Bark Extract, Butylene Glycol, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Sodium Phosphate Dibasic, Sodium Chloride, Triethanolamine, Vitamin B-12, Folic Acid.

 Likely to work?  8.0/10


The secret to Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For ($72.50,  Vitamins, namely A, C, E, and Pro-Vitamin B5.  According to the text Chemical and Physical Behavior of Human Hair, “much remains to be discovered about growth factors such as vitamins…and their effects on hair growth and development.”  

In 4-8 week independent consumer studies of Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For, lashes appeared softer in 80%, fuller in 67%, and enhanced overall in 70% of cases.  However, marks of approval from consumer studies fail to impress me as much as actual measurements of growth, as approximately 1/3 of consumers will report a positive effect even when using a placebo

Customer reviews of the product appear to be mixed.  While some have had positive experiences, like my friend Nancy at Beauty411, others do not experience any effect in growth at all.  (Overall: about 60% positive reviews).  I personally would be interested to see if consumers that exhibit eyelash growth also take a multi-vitamin.  It would be my guess that maximal effect of this product would take place in patients who have some sort of a vitamin deficiency – but then again, until we better understand the role of vitamins in hair growth physiology, who knows?  

Ingredients in Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For:  Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Panthenol, Retinyl Palmitate, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Phospholipids, Sodium Hyaluronate, Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate Cyclodextrin N-[2-Hydroxy-1-Hydroxymethyl)Ethyl]-9-Oxo-11.Alpha.,15s-Dihydroxy-17-Phenyl-18,19,20-Trinor-Prosta-5z,13e-Dien-1-Amide, Triethanolamine, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Alcohol.

Likely to work: 7.0/10   


Once upon a time, before a company (Allergan) wanted the FDA to investigate the use of bimatoprost in a prescription for eyelash growth, there was a prostaglanoid called latanoprost in an over-the-counter product Revitalash ($67.95,  And Revitalash was strong and had its risks, but was deemed low enough in latanoprost to remain available without a prescription.

The risks with Revitalash are the same as Latisse, because latanoprost and bimatoprost are both prostaglanoids:   mainly, increased intraocular pressure (i.e., increased risk of glaucoma, though slight with the concentration of prostaglanoids used in the products) and a change in eye color.

Of course, the latanoprost in Revitalash works in the same fashion as the bimatoprost in Latisse, as both are prostaglandin derivates.  However, because the active ingredient in Revitalash is low enough in concentration to not require a prescription, Revitalash is likely to be both slightly safer and less effective than Latisse.  I think of Revitalash as training wheels for anyone who is considering Latisse.  At any rate, be sure to ask your physician before starting use of Revitalash.  

Ingredients in Revitalash:  Purified Deionized Water, Sodium Chloride, Panthenol (Provitamin B-5), Citric Acid, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin, Disodium Phosphate, (Z)-7-[(1R,2R,3R,5S)-3,5-Dihydroxy-2-(R,E)-3-hydroxy-4(3- trifluoromethyl)phenoxy)but-1-enyl)cyclopentyl]-5-Nethylheptenamide, Cellulose Gum

Likely to work?  9.5/10


Enormous Lash ($95.00, used to contain prostaglandins, but has since been reformulated to contain vitamin B5 (like Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For) and peptides (like Marini Lash, although different peptides).  

As with the rest of the non-prostaglandin eyelash growth serums, the reviews remain to be mixed of Enormous Lash (about 60% positive reviews), with many of the positive reviews having been conducted before the product was reformulated.  Still, there is something to be said for a product with both peptides and vitamins, and even though the research behind this specific formulation is limited, it may be worth a try, particularly if you are afraid of using products containing prostaglandins.  

Ingredients in Enormous Lash:  Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerine, Potassium Olivoyl PCA, Arginine, Alanyk Glutamine, Saccharomyces/Copper Ferment, Phospholipids, Sphingolipids, Panthenol, Caprylyl Glycol, Phenoxyethanol, Isopentyl glycol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Trisoium EDTA.

Likely to work:  7.5/10

No matter which eyelash serum you choose, your lashes will grow only to their previous length when you discontinue use of the product.  With that said, you can always try different products and experiment which works best for you in a timespan of 1-2 months.

The truth of the matter is, products with prostaglandins, such as Latisse and Revitalash, seem to be the most likely to increase the growth of your lashes in the shortest amount of time.  However, due to the possible risks involved, many choose other excellent eyelash growth serums, such as peptide-rich Marini Lash

The best option is to talk to your physician and/or ophthalmologist about your concerns, and together you can determine if you are a candidate for prostaglandin derivates, or if vitamins or peptides would be a better option for you.  

Have an opinion on eyelash growth serums?  Provide yours in Comments below!

Photo source: Beautiful eye….Originally uploaded by kristiqnademirevska

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