“You’re two strips of lashes away from being beautiful,” a makeup artist once told me. While falsies are an easy shortcut to great lashes, who hasn’t lusted after volume and length, au naturel? Enter a potential solution: eyelash serums. But with a slew of products flooding the market, it can be difficult to decide which ones to splurge on. So I relied on word of mouth recommendations, from the fluttery-lashed dames closest to me; having witnessed their lashes transform from sparse and stubby, to falsie-worthy, I immediately set out to uncover their secrets…
The Lash Serum Controversy
A class of drugs called prostaglandin analogues were originally used by doctors to treat glaucoma patients, but a cosmetic side effect was noticed: patients started growing longer, denser and darker lashes. Companies capitalised on this accidental discovery and began using this class of drugs as the active ingredient in lash amplifying serums. Indeed, my former ultimate lash-boosting serum - Lilash - contains a form of this drug. But in May 2018, the Department of Health banned Lilash. Why? According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, prostaglandin analogue is a Schedule Four substance - meaning, legally, it can only be obtained via prescription. (It’s reportedly still available online and the company apparently ships worldwide.)
Latisse (manufactured by Allergan, the company that produces Botox), is the only legal lash product available on the Australian market that contains prostaglandin analogue, according to The Manse Clinic. Available by prescription only, Latisse is the primary treatment for hypotrichosis - a medical condition where eyelashes can't grow. “Latisse not only helped fill in the gaps and fix damaged eyelashes, but my lashes are much thicker overall,” Dr. Catherine Begovic, American Board Certified Plastic surgeon, reported. For all its lash boosting accolades, there is a reason it is prescription only: prostaglandin analogues can induce inflammation, which can lead to irritation. It also increases melanin production, so there’s a possibility dark pigments may form in lighter eyes, and surrounding skin can become discoloured. So, consult a doctor first and obtain a legal prescription - don’t fall prey to cheap online deals.
Best all-rounder: EyEnvy Lash Serum
When my friend Lisa Goodin asked multiple luscious-lashed women what their secret was, there was a common denominator: EyEnvy lash serum. This propelled her to purchase the product and she says the hype is real - so real her friends thought she had had a lash transplant. “It's the best I've tried,” she shares. “It has definitely improved thickness and length, and naturally curls my lashes, plus it makes my lashline darker too. I would recommend it.”
The key ingredients:
EyEnvy is infused with acetyl-tetrapeptide-3 — a peptide which, according to pharmacist Huy Nguyen, strengthens lash roots, enabling them to grow to their maximum, fluttery potential. This serum also boasts a potent antioxidant that encourages the healthy formation of keratin (a.k.a. the key building block for lashes)— which is essential for preserving lash smoothness.
Best conditioner: Shu Uemera Lash Builder
When bridal makeup artist Juhee Han is confronted with clients sporting frazzled lashes, she immediately reaches for the Shu Uemera Lash Builder. Months before her clients’ weddings, she advises them to religiously coat their eyelashes at night with the serum, to transform lashes from brittle and damaged, to soft and silky. Juhee also uses this as a mascara primer, as the product smooths the lashes, ensuring clump-free mascara application. “I call it the Chapstick for lashes,” Juhee says. “For clients who don’t want to use false lashes but still want to achieve that vavavoom lash effect — this is a must.”
The treatment use ceramides, which act as a protective barrier for lashes (often dubbed the ‘glue' that keeps lashes intact). Pharmacist Huy Nguyen explains that ceramides reduce the risk of lash fallout from external environmental aggressors. Meanwhile, centella extract increases blood delivery to lash follicles boosting lash growth and resilience, while B5 smoothing polymers help condition lashes.
Best DIY: Green Tea
Beauty pageant veteran Patricia Ella Evangelista relied on a pantry staple to look fresh and stage-ready, even without a stitch of eye makeup. She placed green tea bags over her eyes, to tighten the area and reduce under-eye puffiness. And she noticed a bonus effect: her lashes became thicker and darker, and sparse areas began rapidly growing fine baby hairs. “I knew it wasn't a placebo effect, because when I stopped applying green tea, I noticed my lashes reverted back to their thinning ways,” Patricia explains. So brew some green tea (wait for it to cool down, of course) then use a q-tip to swipe the tea along your lashline. You’re now well on your way to luscious lashes.
Green tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant that has been clinically proven to promote hair growth and activate lazy hair cells, pharmacist Huy Nguyen says. Meanwhile, vitamin B5 strengthens hair follicles and softens hair texture. Green tea also inhibits DHT — a hormone that destroys hair follicles and causes baldness. So get steeping.
Best for length: Grande Cosmetics LASH-MD
After 5 years of non-stop lash extensions, my friend Jay Bui began to notice that her eyelashes were thinning — and thus began the hunt for a serum that would rapidly restore her fast disappearing lashes. After using Grande Cosmetics LASH-MD for two months, her lash technician even remarked that some of her real lashes looked as elongated as the lash extensions themselves. "I think it was better for length than volume, although there was a slight increase in fullness too,” Jay shares. “My lashes look more defined overall.”
Hyaluronic acid and polysaccharides double down on premature lash loss by providing a concentrated dose of nourishment and hydration. Pharmacist Huy Nguyen states that it’s the antioxidant heavyweights (like ginseng root, bearberry leaves and chamomile flowers) that do the major lash lifting—feeding lashes with nutrients and repairing micro-scarred (read: seriously damaged) lashes.
Story by Kristina Zhou
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