Latisse For Eyelash Growth: What You Should Know

By:    Published: October 25, 2012

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Every lady wants to have long, luscious eyelashes, and Latisse is one way to get them. If you've seen the commercials, you may have been enticed by Brooke Shields or Claire Danes batting her long, thick, dark lashes at the camera, promising you the same result. But using Latisse to grow long lashes may come with a hefty price tag - and not just one that will hurt your wallet.

What Is Latisse?

Latisse is a treatment for eyelash hypotrichosis, or an inadequate amount of eyelashes, and can be used by both men and women. After about four weeks, users of the product should start to see longer and thicker lashes, with full results showing after 16 weeks.

Latisse is available through a prescription and is a product of Allergan, the same company that created Botox and Juvederm. Each kit costs about $120 and comes with 30 applicators, roughly a month's supply.

According to Allergan, during the 16-week clinical trial, patients saw a 106 percent increase in lash thickness, a 25 percent increase in lash length and an 18 percent increase in darkness.

How Does Latisse Work?

Exactly how the Latisse solution works is a bit of a mystery, even to researchers at Allergan. The same formula was originally called Lumigan and was used as an eye drop to treat elevated intraocular pressure of the eye, or glaucoma. Patients started growing longer, thicker lashes as a side effect of the treatment. Researchers at Allergan discovered that the main ingredient, bimatoprost, was causing the side effect, and that's how Latisse was born.

Although many users of the product have gotten the look they wanted, others have paid a high price for the sake of beauty.

Side Effects

When Latisse was first put on the market, the FDA sent a letter to Allergan because the company, at the time, failed to mention any side effects of Latisse on the "Is Latisse Safe?" section of its website. However, the company did mention that the clinical studies had been reviewed by the FDA. The FDA felt that this was misleading to the public and could lure potential users into a false sense of security.

Since that time, Allergan has since come clean about some of the potential side effects users of Latisse could experience. Although the company claims that the percentage of people who saw side effects during the clinical trials was minimal, since the product has been in public use, many people have suffered serious side effects from using Latisse including:

  • Eyelid skin darkening - Allergan claims that less than three percent of patients saw that effect during the clinical trial, but darkening of the eyelid and the skin around the eye seems to be a common side effect of Latisse. A woman who experienced this side effect told the New York Times that she didn't give it much thought at first because she was receiving many compliments on her "plum eye shadow." Some people have also seen reddening or darkening of the skin around the lower lid, even though Latisse is only supposed to be applied to the upper lid. Allergan says that this effect may be reversible.
  • Darkening of the iris - Say bye-bye to those baby blues or gorgeous greens. Darkening of the iris to brown is a side effect that is likely to remain permanent. Some people with light-colored eyes have seen flecks of brown or gold in their irises that were not there before they started using Latisse.
  • Itching/redness - These symptoms are indicative of an allergic reaction and if experienced, discontinue use of the product immediately. Allergan states that less than four percent of patients experienced these effects during the clinical trial.
  • Unwanted hair growth - If Latisse is applied to the lower lid, eyebrows or any area other than what Allergan instructs, users could see unwanted hair growth in the places where Latisse has been applied.

It's best to consult with a doctor before using Latisse, and if you do decide to try it, make sure you obtain it through a trusted physician who can oversee your use of the product. Although Latisse should only be available through a prescription, salons and Internet-based doctors will sell the product after asking few, if any, questions about your health and medical history.

Alternatives

If you want amazing eyelashes but without the scary side effects, here are some alternatives you can try:

  • Volumizing mascara - These mascaras are designed to make your lashes look thicker and longer.
  • False eyelashes - These are cheap and fairly easy to apply. They come in various lengths, colors and styles so you can switch your look often.
  • Eyelash extensions - Going a step beyond falsies, eyelash extensions last longer but also cost more.
  • Condition often - Conditioning the lashes you already have will help grow longer. Use a Q-tip to brush Vaseline, castor oil or olive oil from the base of your lashes to the tip. Gently rub off the excess and wash your eyes the next morning. Or, use an over-the-counter eyelash conditioner to get stronger lashes in just a few weeks.

While Latisse may deliver on its promise of giving you eyelashes worthy of a mascara commercial, it may not be worth the risk of potential side effects. Keep in mind that Latisse won't give you longer, thicker lashes for life - once you stop using the product, your lashes will return to their natural state. Using an alternative method may be cheaper and it won't wreak havoc on your eyes.

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