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So long, lash extensions.

10 Eyelash Serums That Will Fool People Into Thinking Your Natural Lashes Are Fake

Photos courtesy of IMAXTree

Last Updated

Aug 12, 2021

Whether you’re glamming it up with a full face of makeup or going au naturel, nothing brings together a beauty look more than long, fluttery eyelashes. If you’re not blessed with mile-long lashes like our senior beauty editor (seriously, they’re enviable), then chances are you’ve tried falsies, extensions, or lengthening mascaras. While these options are great, they can also be messy, expensive, and—in some cases—damaging to your fringe (lash glue can be a pain to get out). The solution? Eyelash growth serums. With just a swipe of a brush, these lightweight, concentrated treatments help boost the length, volume, and health of your lashes. For more information, we spoke with board-certified dermatologists Diane Madfes, MD, FAAD, Hadley King, MD, FAAD, and Anna H. Chacon, MD, to guide us through the ins and outs of eyelash serums.

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How Do Eyelash Serums Work?

So, here’s the thing: There’s only one FDA-approved product proven to help grow and thicken eyelashes, and that is Latisse. It is formulated with an active ingredient called bimatoprost, “which has been shown in clinical studies to make eyelashes grow longer, thicker, and darker,” says Dr. King. “It works by lengthening the time the follicle stays in the growth phase.” Additionally, it stimulates growth in the hair follicles not currently producing lashes, creating a fuller appearance. The downside? Latisse is a pharmaceutical drug, which means you need a doctor’s prescription to get it. Thankfully, if you’re not ready to make a prescription-level commitment, there are several over-the-counter options available, although they work a bit differently.

Non-prescription eyelash serums (which we’ve rounded up below) typically contain a combination of peptides, biotin, antioxidants, and vitamins. Together, they work to “strengthen lashes and boost keratin production,” says Dr. Madfes. This is good news for your fringe as keratin is a structural protein, which means the more keratin that is present, the stronger your hair becomes. And because eyelashes have a long anagen phase (a fancy word for hair growth cycle), eyelash serums help decrease the shedding of lashes, so they stick around longer.

As a result, it might seem like lashes are growing, but keep in mind that these serums technically can’t make them grow. Instead, they help strengthen lashes, boost keratin production, and provide the optimal environment to encourage healthier growth.

How Long Does It Take to See Results?

When using an eyelash serum, patience is key. You’re not going to see results after just one swipe. Eyelash serums work slowly and typically take three to four months to deliver visible results. Remember, the best things come to those who wait, and by best things, we mean long, fluttery lashes.

Eyelash serums are safe when used correctly. However, like anything else that comes in close contact with your peepers, you should use them with caution. For the best results, always follow the brand’s specific instructions to make sure you are applying the serum correctly and to avoid any irritation.

“Like most topicals, eyelash serums may cause redness and irritation in individuals with sensitive skin,” shares Dr. Chacon. This is why Dr. Madfes advises testing a small area by the eye for one week prior to determine how your skin will react. Dr. Chacon also points out that some users may notice that the treated area becomes slightly darker (like you’re wearing very subtle eyeshadow), which is completely normal. However, experts agree that if you experience extreme darkening of the lids, along with red, itchy eyes, discontinue use immediately and see a doctor.

When to Avoid Eyelash Serums

“I don’t recommend eyelash serums for people who have ocular rosacea, eye eczema, or allergies to preservatives,” says Dr. Madfes. And if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, Dr. Chacon advises against using eyelash serums due to the lack of studies. Additionally, she suggests that those who have a history of glaucoma (​​and anyone with any other ocular or ophthalmic issues) consult with their ophthalmologist before use.

How to Apply an Eyelash Serum

First and foremost, never apply an eyelash serum when wearing contacts. In some cases, the contacts can absorb the serum, leading to eye irritation and redness. That said, eyelash serums come with a small brush that is used to sweep across the lash line, right at the base of the follicles. On clean, mascara-free lashes, apply a thin layer to the upper lash line at night (when lashes typically regenerate) and allow the serum to dry completely before continuing with the rest of your nighttime skincare routine.

Now that you know what to expect from eyelash serums, we’ve rounded up 10 of the best ones to boost your lash growth potential. Get ready to flutter your way to endless compliments.

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