Having long, full, and luscious eyelashes is #goals for many of us. It’s why more and more salons are offering eyelash extensions for upwards of $100 a pop.
That’s a chunk of change on its own, but extension refills can set you back another $40 to $50 every few weeks. Ain’t nobody got the time and cash for that.
Not to mention, eyelash extensions can harm your natural lashes, leaving you with sparse, wimpy fringe once you take off the fakes.
Are you doomed to deal with short lashes forever? Nope! Let’s break down the best eyelash growth serums, along with the good, bad, and the ugly when it comes to getting longer lashes.
Do Eyelash Growth Serums Work?
Yes and no.
The bummer is that most eyelash growth serums sold in stores don’t work because the active ingredient is biotin. Biotin is a B complex vitamin that most of us get naturally through foods like whole grains, nuts, and egg yolks. It’s gained a cult following in recent years, thanks to claims that it helps grow hair, eyelashes, and nails — and makes skin glow.
Unfortunately, biotin alone won’t transform your lashes into something that resembles falsies.
“There is no compelling evidence that biotin will increase lash growth,” dermatologist Pamela A. Lowe told Self. “And because many supplements of biotin rarely get absorbed into one’s system efficiently — unless one is extremely deficient — it really doesn’t pay off to use it for this purpose.”
Other eyelash growth serums are formulated with active ingredients sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, and peptides. These do appear to have benefits, but the effects are subtle. They act as moisturizers that can help reduce breakage on brittle lashes or make them appear thicker (much like conditioner for your hair), but it’s not permanent. Castor oil, another popular ingredient that’s often touted as an eyelash growth serum, only makes the eyelashes look shiny.
What to Look For in Eyelash Growth Serums
So, are there any ingredients in eyelash growth serums that work? Luckily, yes — but not without risks.
Latisse is the only eyelash growth serum approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, thanks to its active ingredient, bimatoprost. Bimatoprost was originally approved to treat glaucoma, but patients noticed an interesting side effect: longer, thicker eyelashes.
Latisse works by extending the growth cycle, known as the anagen phase of the eyelashes, and increases the number of lashes. It’s not applied to all lashes, just the new growth along the lash line.
According to the makers of Latisse, you’ll see results within two to three months — but your fuller lashes will eventually revert back to their natural state once you stop using it. Latisse might work as an eyelash enhancer, but it’s only available with a doctor’s prescription.
Peptides and ceramides are ingredients regularly added to eyelash serums and are anecdotally shown to work, depending on the person using them. But Latisse with bimatoprost is the only eyelash growth serum proven to grow lashes.
Are Eyelash Growth Serums Safe?
Most types of lash-enhancing serum are generally known to be safe, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. Nearly every type of serum requires you to apply to the lash line like you would eyeliner, but improper application can lead to irritated eyes and more problems.
“The gland openings on the eyelids that are essential for proper tear function can potentially become clogged [with eyelash serums], thereby causing discomfort, styes, and infection,” Lowe told Self.
Even FDA-approved Latisse is shown to have side effects.
Do Eyelash Growth Serums Change Your Eye Color?
Latisse might help you grow your eyelashes, but it’s also known to cause darkening on the eyelids and, yes, change eye color. People with light eye colors are especially at risk for eye color changes — and this darkening of the iris is permanent.
Latisse can also mask the sign of glaucoma and even cause unwanted hair growth in areas it touches. To minimize the risk, Lower recommends applying eyelash growth serums using the included applicator and working from the inner corner of the eye outward using the hand on the same side as the eye you’re applying it to.
The Best Eyelash Serums to Grow Your Lashes
Eyelash growth serums can range from really cheap to really, really expensive. That said, an inexpensive eyelash growth serum might actually work better than an expensive one — it all depends on the product.
Rodan + Fields Lash Boost
“I am wearing only one coat of mascara in the BEFORE and two thick coats in the AFTER, because I want you to see each lash…as much as possible,” Genevieve Monsma wrote on Instagram alongside her eyelash growth serum before and after photos.
I apologize in advance for the 4-eyed monster photo. But, for those of you following my @rodanfields Lash Boost posts, here (at your request) are some progression photos. The BEFORE was taken after using Lash Boost for about one month. I don’t have any earlier than that. Sorry. The AFTER and bottom shot were taken this morning (19 weeks into my Lash Boost use). I am wearing only one coat of mascara in the BEFORE and two thick coats in the AFTER, because I want you to see each lash…as much as possible. One thing Lash Boost has not done is darkened my lashes. At all. They are still very blonde. So this is more mascara than I would typically wear. But, again, the point is to show you the length, density and even, to a certain degree the tangling. (A spoolie brush is a must when your lashes get this long.) And if you haven’t been following my Lash Growth journey, there is a link to the first post in my bio…Though suffice it to say, I think it works
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“One thing Lash Boost has not done is darkened my lashes. At all. They are still very blonde. So this is more mascara than I would typically wear. But, again, the point is to show you the length, density, and even, to a certain degree the tangling,” she continued.
“(A spoolie brush is a must when your lashes get this long.) And if you haven’t been following my Lash Growth journey, there is a link to the first post in my bio…Though suffice it to say, I think it works.”
LashFood Eyelash Enhancer was developed by cosmetic scientists to help transform brittle lashes into a fuller, more luscious look. The active ingredient is the proprietary Phyto-Medic Complex made from "revolutionary" medicinal herbs, along with arginine (to boost hair follicles), lavender water, and soy protein (for its hydrating power).
Though there isn’t much out there on these ingredients and their ability to grow lashes, fans seem to love it.
“My lash extensions all fell out about a month ago and my lashes were so short, straight and sparse,” one fan wrote on Sephora. “After 4 weeks of nightly application, my lashes are longer and starting to curl! I’m considering just sticking to using this product and not bothering with extensions again in the future.”
Rapidlash Eyelash Enhancing Serum
“I used to have short stubby lashes but now my lashes have grown twice their original length,” one reviewer wrote on Ulta.com. “I’ve been using it for about 3 months now and I can’t stop. I use it morning and night. Family and friends have been asking if they’re fake, or I got lash extensions, etc. but they’re mine! Shocking results. Definitely recommend!!!”
Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner
“This is [my] favorite beauty product EVER! It really does work,” one reviewer wrote. “My lashes are amazing because of this. I have people ask me daily if I am wearing fake lashes or if I have eyelash extensions. I have been using this product for about a year and my lashes are still great.”
Skin Research Laboratories NeuLash Enhancing Serum
While this one ranks right up there with Zoria on the expensive end of eyelash growth serums, neuLash Enhancing Serum gets high marks for its Active Eyelash Technology that uses natural ingredients like pumpkin seed extract, B vitamins, amino acids, phytosterols, zinc, and iron to create visible lash growth within 30 days, according to the company.
I have only been using the product for a month and I have a huge difference in lash length and volume!” one reviewer wrote. “This product made a difference in only two weeks for me.”
The biggest downside? “The product will burn if you get it in your eyes, so just take the application seriously to avoid that and use the product sparingly because you don’t need much.”
GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum
“I love love love this stuff! It really works and I highly recommend it,” one reviewer wrote. “I just ordered another 3 month supply. I noticed a difference after about one month of using [it]. My lashes are longer and fuller. Absolutely love this product.”
Vichy Liftactiv Eyes and Lashes Serum
A serum that helps the eye area as well as lashes? Sign us up. Vichy Liftactiv Eyes and Lashes Serum uses hyaluronic acid, and Rhamnose, a naturally derived plant sugar, to reduce the appearance of crows feet and other fine lines while it also conditions the lash area.
“This is like magic!! My Lashes are growing!!” one reviewer wrote. “I doubted at first, by using this serum after few days, the result is obvious!! especially my lower eyelashes, wowww!”
Peter Thomas Roth Lashes to Die For Turbo Nighttime Eyelash Treatment
Reviews for this product are mixed, but reviewers who see results are huge fans.
“You have to be consistent every night and, although I have sensitive skin, I never got a reaction,” one reviewer wrote. “But, of course, you do have to be careful about getting it into your eyes.”
Shiseido Full Lash and Brow Serum
“I use this every day on my eyebrows and lashes and it has truly made a noticeable difference,” one reviewer wrote. “I now have significantly fuller eyebrows, I have hair I never thought I would, I no longer draw my eyebrows on I just use a filler with a spoolie.”
Meagan Morris is the editor in chief of Celebribody. She's veteran health and wellness editor with over 15 years of experience. Her work has been featured in The Atlantic, Yahoo Health, Cosmopolitan, SELF, and Women's Health, among others. She spends most of her time writing, but her favorite part of the day is spent under a barbell doing squats.