This article offers a glimpse of eyelash growth serums, including their overall effectiveness, how to use them for best results, how long they take to work and potential side effects, as well as the best and worst candidates.
We’ve obtained input from three experts for this topic, including a Licensed Esthetician in Sydney, a Board-Certified Dermatologist in Melbourne and a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer in Perth.
Keep in mind that this article is not intended as medical advice. It’s important to talk with your dermatologist or medical provider before using any kind of growth serum on your eyelashes.
Do Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
Most people look for eyelash growth serums because of thinning or damaged natural lashes due to age or hormones, poorly applied eyelash extensions, or because they are unhappy with their natural lashes, said Kirstie Reese, a Licensed Esthetician.
Reese has been doing eyelash extensions and lash perms for more than four years, and she often recommends lash growth serums for her clients to use with their lash services.
“In my expert opinion, eyelash growth serums most definitely work,” Reese said. “They are amazing for people with damaged, thinning or short lashes.”
Eyelash serums are great for anyone seeking fuller eyelashes, and those with thinning lashes or damaged lashes from lash extensions, noted Dr. Kally Papantoniou, a Board-Certified Dermatologist specialising in cosmetic, laser and surgical dermatology in Sydney.
“Eyelash serums are a great way of improving the length and density of eyelash growth,” Dr. Papantoniou said. “It takes several weeks to see results, but is worth the wait.”
The aging process leads to thinning and sparsity of eyelashes, said Dr. Ted Lain, a Board-Certified Dermatologist and Chief Medical Officer at Sanova Dermatology in Perth.
“Our society favors longer, thicker lashes as a sign of beauty, hence the two factors contributing to the popularity of these serums,” Dr. Lain said.
In addition, many will try eyelash extensions, which are glued on to existing lashes, Dr. Lain noted.
“This is expensive, time-consuming, and can lead to rashes or irritation of the eyelid skin, leading many to find alternative methods to grow lashes,” he said.
Many of the eyelash serums do actually help to grow eyelashes, Dr. Lain emphasised.
“They contain certain ingredients that trigger the hair follicle cells to work harder, and have other ingredients to promote the health of the eyelash skin and decrease bacteria,” he said.
How Do Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
Eyelash growth serums are made up of peptides, amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients that make the natural lashes healthier and more dramatic with regular use, according to Reese.
Growth serums provide the proper nutrients needed directly to the roots of the eyelashes, Reese explained.
“Normally, we would get nutrients from our blood, but with our diet, our body may be using the nutrients for something more important than eyelash hair growth,” Reese said. “By applying growth serums topically, we can ensure that our natural lashes are getting the appropriate amount of nutrients in that targeted area.”
According to Dr. Papantoniou, the peptides in eyelash growth serums can help promote new growth.
“Ingredients such as biotin and keratin may help strengthen the new hairs as they grow as well,” she said.
Dr. Lain said that most eyelash growth serums contain prostaglandins, which are hormones responsible for signaling hair growth.
“Other ingredients, such as panthenol (vitamin B5), improve the skin health and optimize the prostaglandins’ ability to signal hair growth,” Dr. Lain explained.
Best Candidates for Eyelash Growth Serums
According to Reese, anyone who is looking to enhance their natural lashes is a good candidate for a growth serum unless they are allergic to one of the ingredients.
“Many people are great candidates – anyone looking to improve their lashes,” Dr. Papantoniou said.
Nearly everyone can benefit, Dr. Lain noted.
“Only those with a loss of lashes due to a scarring process of the eyelid skin would not benefit, and this could only be diagnosed by a dermatologist,” he said.
Worst Candidates for Eyelash Growth Serums
According to Reese, those who should avoid growth serums include:
- Women who are pregnant
- Women who are breastfeeding
- Those who are allergic to the ingredients
- Individuals undergoing chemotherapy
- People with sensitive eyes
Dr. Papantoniou agreed that individuals who are allergic to any of the ingredients are not good candidates for eyelash growth serums.
“I recommend reading labels carefully,” she said.
Potential Side Effects from Using Eyelash Growth Serums
Side effects can be reddening or darkening of the skin and stinging eyes if the product were to get inside the eyes, Reese noted.
According to Dr. Papantoniou, most eyelash growth serums have no known side effects and are safer than prescription eyelash treatments.
Dr. Lain said that there could be a small risk of hyperpigmentation of the eyelid skin at the application site of the serum; or a rash of the eyelids if there is an allergy or sensitivity to the ingredients.
Eyelash Growth Serums That Contain Peptides
At Dr. Papantoniou’s practice, “we recommend eyelash serums that contain peptides, but we do not retail.”
These serums can range from $50 to $150, and application should be done every night, with visible results showing in about 4 weeks.
“It can take 2 to 8 weeks to see results, with notably thicker and longer lashes – for continued effect, the treatment must be confined,” noted Dr. Papantoniou, adding that the serums can be used on eyebrows as well, but may not have such good results.
While Dr. Papantoniou didn’t offer specifics on the eyelash serums she recommends, some eyelash serums that contain peptides also.
Can Castor Oil Promote Longer Lashes?
Castor oil has ricinoleic acid and omega 6 essential fatty acids which help to bring blood flow to the area to increase hair growth, Reese said.
“Apply it with an eyeliner brush to the base of the lashes, just like eyeliner, every night on clean skin,” Reese advised. Additionally, “you can also take some coconut oil on a clean mascara spooley brush, and brush that through your lashes for softer and healthier lashes.”
Dr. Papantoniou noted that castor oil has been shown to help with hair growth, and rosemary oil is helpful as well.
“The oils would be applied at night once daily, and I would not put undiluted rosemary oil on the eyelids,” she recommended. “I drop mixed into a tablespoon of castor oil would be safe for this area. Pure rosemary oil can be an irritant.”
According to Dr. Lain, there are no studies to support the use of castor oil for eyelash growth.
However, “some data exists to support the idea of castor oil working since it contains very high levels of ricinoleic acid which could help with scalp hair re-growth by inhibiting a certain hormone in the skin,” he said.