How to grow long lashes

Lash care is a growing market. Here’s how to put the mascara wand down for good and grow your own fluttering fringes.

Photo: iStock

There seems to be a new mascara hitting the market every week, with each magic wand promising eye-opening results: bigger, longer, stronger lashes!

But away from the temporary make-up tricks, there’s a more long-term solution for boosting your lash look, known as the lash serum. These clear liquids, applied along the lashes like a liquid liner (and even over brows), claim to make your lashes grow longer, and stronger that you could potentially forgo mascara altogether. While exact formulations vary, lash serums are commonly powered by peptides, which are said to encourage hair growth at the follicle level. Peptides are also found in anti-ageing skincare products, since they also help to stimulate collagen production.

A lucky lash beginning

In 1948, French beauty company Talika chanced upon a lash-growing formula when it found that an anti-bacterial cream prompted measurable lash and brow growth among casualty of war patients. From here it launched its now-cult Lipocils product. In clinical trials, Talika’s new peptide-powered Lipocils Expert lash serum, $59, has been shown to grow lashes by 36 per cent in one month.

In Australia, Jan Marini kick-started the modern lash growth market when the company launched the magical Jan Marini Lash serum. It contains bimatoprost, a type of prostaglandin that’s known to encourage lash growth. Bimatoprost is commonly used in glaucoma therapy, and eye doctors have long observed that their patients’ lashes lengthen over treatment time. Prostaglandins bind in the hair root and trigger growth; how exactly they do that remains unknown.

The new lash players

However, in 2007, Jan Marini was forced to reformulate the lash-lengthening product since the Food and Drug Administration in the US hadn’t approved bimatoprost specifically for lash growth. That left room for Allergan, makers of Botox, to launch their new lash growth serum, Latisse, which also used bimatoprost as an active ingredient, but was approved by the FDA’s rigorous testing protocol. The drawback to Latisse (or any bimatropost-based product): there’s a risk that using the product may deepen your iris colour. Darker eyes for longer lashes? The trade-off decision is a personal one.

Allergan has yet to announce plans to release the product in Australia, although Lumigan, a product used to treat glaucoma patients, similar to bimatropost sibling, is available here. Whether your doctor agrees to prescribe it for cosmetic purposes, what the industry calls off-label prescribing, is another matter altogether.

Tried and tested

Not all beauty companies have the money or means to use prostaglandins and go through all the regulatory hurdles. Fortunately, an increasing number of lash growth products are launching in Australia, powered by peptides and other lash-strengthening ingredients.

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