Do lash growth serums actually work?

eyelash serum

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In the quest for longer, fuller eyelashes, many people turn to lash growth serums. Unlike eyelash extensions and mascara, eyelash serums work to hydrate and increase the volume of eyelashes. Depending on the type of serum and its ingredients, some can even speed up eyelash growth.

But with so many different brands of lash growth serums out there — from prescription to over-the-counter — it can be overwhelming to decide on which lash serum is best. To help us understand more about how lash serums work and what people should consider before using one, we reached out to ophthalmic surgeon Dr. Jovi Boparai, the co-founder and CEO of CorneaCare, and Dr. Samuel Hetz, the medical director of Concept Medical, to learn more.

How Do Lash Growth Serums Work?

Prescription Lash Serums

Latisse is currently the only lash serum that’s FDA-approved, and as a prescription medication, you will need to consult with a doctor, such as a dermatologist or ophthalmologist, to determine if it’s a good fit for you. The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatoprost, a medication that was originally developed for the treatment of glaucoma and ocular hypertension, a condition in which the pressure in eyes increases without affecting a person’s vision. It is part of a class of medications referred to as prostaglandin analogues.

MORE: The story behind why we’re so obsessed with having long eyelashes

When used cosmetically, however, Dr. Hetz says, “[Bimatoprost] is absorbed into the hair follicles and can help stimulate the anagen growth phase of the hair cycle, essentially increasing the speed of natural eyelash growth.”

Another prostaglandin analogue medication called latanoprost has also been studied for its potential to increase eyelash growth. However, it has not been approved for cosmetic use by the FDA, and it is only available as a prescription eye drop treatment for glaucoma.

Non-Prescription Lash Serums

Non-prescription eyelash serums contain ingredients that help hydrate and plump eyelashes, giving lashes a fuller, thicker appearance. But, unlike prescription serums, they don’t do anything to stimulate or speed up growth.

When shopping for an over-the-counter lash serum, Dr. Boparai recommends you “look for peptides, biotin, hyaluronic acid, and botanical extracts for potential lash conditioning and growth.”

$68 at Target

Are Lash Serums Safe?


According to both Dr. Hetz and Dr. Boparai, lash serums are generally considered safe.

“Latisse is the only FDA- and Health Canada-approved lash growth product on the market, meaning it has scientific evidence supporting safety, efficiency, and quality for the product’s intended use,” said Dr. Hetz.

However, that doesn’t mean that eyelash serums should be used by everyone. Latisse, for instance, is not recommended for use by pregnant or breastfeeding women or anyone under the age of 18. People with existing eye or vision problems should also be cautious.

“Consider your eye health and sensitivity. If you have dry eyes, allergies or other eye conditions, consult your doctor before using any lash serum,” recommends Dr. Boparai.

What Are The Benefits Of A Lash Serum?

Like using a lip-plumping lip gloss or a leave-in conditioner for your hair, lash serums help enhance your natural eyelashes by deeply moisturizing them. This can lead to healthier, stronger and more dense-looking lashes.

Serums are especially appealing to people who want fuller-looking eyelashes 24/7.  While mascara or false eyelashes can provide the look of longer, thicker eyelashes, they can only be worn for a few hours to up to a day at a time. There are also eyelash extensions, which can be worn around-the-clock, but they require frequent salon appointments to maintain the look.

That’s why eyelash serums are so appealing — because they require less maintenance than extensions, but more permanence than mascara or false eyelashes.

MORE: The Best Pre-Mascara Primer

Are There Cons To Using A Lash Serum?

Although prescription serums like Latisse have been proven to be effective, there are potential side effects from using them like redness, itching and eyelid darkening. Another rare side effect is increased brown eye coloring. You also risk unwanted hair growth if you apply the serum to areas other than the base of the upper lashes.

As for over-the-counter lash serums, Dr. Bopari says, “Over-the-counter options often have milder ingredients like peptides and vitamins with lower risk but potentially less dramatic results.”

However, lower risk does not mean no risk at all. Some popular OTC eyelash serum brands list side effects like redness and dry eyes. In addition to potential side effects, lash growth serums also take a while to show results, especially compared to eyelash extensions, where the results are instantaneous.

“Results may take weeks to appear and vary person-to-person,” adds Dr. Boparai.

Best Lash Serums

If, however, you want to try an over-the-counter lash serum to help bolster lash strength, there are several on the market. here are some of the best lash growth serums you can buy online:

The Most Popular Lash Serum: RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner

Revitalash conditioner

$100 at Amazon

RevitaLash is one of the most popular lash serums on Amazon, with an over 4-star rating and 10,000+ reviews. Applied once a day, the serum conditions eyelashes to help increase their shine and flexibility and protect against breakage.

Key ingredients: Peptides, lipids, biotin, green tea extract, and a small amount of an ingredient classified as a prostaglandin analogue

The Best Plant-Based Lash Serum: VEGAMOUR GRO Lash Serum


$72 at Amazon

This vegan and cruelty-free eyelash growth serum made with plant-based ingredients promotes thicker and healthier-looking lashes when applied twice daily.

Key ingredients: Red clover, mung bean, curcumin, and nicotiana benthamiana

The Best Budget Lash Serum: The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash and Brow Serum

The Ordinary eyelash serum

$15 at Target

For a more wallet-friendly serum, this vegan, travel-size option from The Ordinary is a great pick. It’s suitable for both eyelashes and brows and promises to help lashes reach their full potential in length and thickness.

Key ingredients: Peptides

About the Author
Margeaux Baulch Klein

Margeaux Baulch Klein is a freelance writer and digital strategist based in Los Angeles. She has written for publications like the Huffington Post, New York Daily News, Bustle, and HelloGiggles, among others. Visit Scripps News to see more of Margeaux's work. More.