Updated on 

May 16, 2022

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Latisse

What is Latisse (Bimatoprost)?

Latisse is a prescription medication that encourages eyelash growth. It is applied directly to the eyelashes. It is chemically referred to as bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Latisse eyelash serum in 2008 to treat inadequate or sparse eyelashes (hypotrichosis).

The active ingredient in Latisse is bimatoprost, a prostaglandin analog (a class of drugs that lowers eye pressure). Originally it was used to treat glaucoma, which causes eye pressure problems and optic nerve damage. However, doctors noticed that people using the medication developed longer, thicker eyelashes. The product was then remarketed as a beauty solution.

According to clinical studies and FDA data, around 8 in 10 people experience positive changes to their eyelashes after using Latisse. Following 16 weeks of use, lashes may increase up to 25% in length and 106% in thickness.1 

Although experts aren’t entirely sure how Latisse works, it appears to affect the eyelash growth cycle. It extends the length of the growth phase and increases the number of hairs that grow from the eyelid. Eyelashes then look fuller and grow longer before falling out.

When you use Latisse daily, it may result in longer, thicker, and darker eyelashes. You should notice the effects progressing over several weeks or months of consistent application. 

How to Apply and Use Latisse

Proper application is key to success. Before applying Latisse, remove all makeup and contact lenses if you wear them. Then, wash your face and remove any oils or creams.2 

Apply Latisse once daily, preferably at night, by following these steps:

  1. Remove one of the single-use sterile applicators from the tray and hold it horizontally.
  2. Place one drop of Latisse close to the applicator tip but not on the tip.
  3. Run the applicator carefully along the skin at the base of the upper lashes from the inner part to the outer part of the eye. The liquid will spread to the lower eyelid lash line as you blink.
  4. Blot any excess solution with a tissue and dispose of the applicator.
  5. Repeat for the opposite eyelid using a new, sterile applicator to avoid contamination.

Do not apply more than one drop, as this does not increase the effectiveness of the medication. 

Also, do not apply in the eye or to the lower lid, as this can encourage hair growth outside the treatment area.

How Long Does Latisse Take to Work?

Many prescription medications require extended use before noticeable results, and Latisse is no exception. 

Most people notice increased eyelash length after 4 weeks of consistent use. The lashes become thicker and darker by around week 8. You can expect enhanced results by week 12 and full, dramatic results by week 16.3

Even if you’re satisfied with the results before this point, continue the treatment. If you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to their previous appearance.

After week 16, your lashes should be noticeably fuller. At this point, talk to your doctor about ongoing Latisse treatment. They may recommend scaling back your dosage to every other night or several times weekly.

Who Shouldn’t Use Latisse?                                              

Doctors recommend not to use Latisse if you:

  • Have had eye surgery
  • Have eye health issues such as macular edema or uveitis
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

There is not enough data to confirm safe use of Latisse in these groups.4 Additionally, anyone who has had an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in Latisse should avoid using the product.

Anyone who develops a new eye condition or infection while using Latisse should discontinue use. It could worsen the issue or prevent it from healing properly. A doctor may, however, approve continued treatment once the infection clears.

Potential Side Effects of Latisse

As an FDA-approved treatment Latisse has minimal side effects. People typically tolerate it well. The most common side effects in clinical trials are itchy and red eyes. These occurred in around 4% of people.3

Other possible side effects include:

  • Darkening eyelid skin
  • Eye irritation
  • Dry eyes
  • Red eyelids
  • Hollowing around the eyes due to fat loss

In rare cases, Latisse may cause an increase in brown pigmentation in the iris, the colored portion of the eye.5

If you’re using Latisse and develop an infection, reaction, or vision changes, seek immediate medical attention.

Also, be aware that if you wear contact lenses, Latisse can discolor them. Always remove your lenses before applying the solution and wait 15 minutes before putting them back in.5

Alternative Treatment Options

If you’re looking for fuller lashes but don’t want to use Latisse, you can try alternative products or home remedies.

Cosmetic aisles are stocked with over-the-counter (OTC) eyelash serums that promise similar effects to Latisse. But isopropyl cloprostenate, the prostaglandin analog often found in these items, is not FDA-approved. Therefore, the safety and efficacy of these products are largely unknown.6

Various natural remedies that reputedly encourage and enhance eyelash growth include:

  • Castor oil
  • Aloe Vera
  • Vitamin E
  • Green tea
  • Olive oil

You can apply these plant-based treatments to your lashes using a clean mascara brush or cotton swab. Then, leave overnight and rinse in the morning. 

While these treatments are popular, there is little scientific evidence to support any claims of lash growth.

Summary

Latisse is an FDA-approved treatment for lengthening eyelashes. To use, apply the serum to the base of the upper eyelid margin each night. Latisse works gradually over several weeks to produce longer, fuller lashes.

There are alternatives to Latisse if you’ve had allergic reactions or are concerned about side effects. These include castor oil, aloe vera, vitamin E, green tea, olive oil, and petroleum jelly. However, none are proven effective.

It's always a good idea to purchase products that are formulated for the eye area. For example, some oils can irritate the eyes when applying them to the lashes.

If you have any concerns about your eyelashes, talk to your doctor to see if Latisse is the right treatment for you.

6 Cited Research Articles
  1. Jones, D. “Enhanced Eyelashes: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Options.” Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. 2011
  2. How to Apply Latisse.” Latisse. 2021.
  3. What to Expect.” Latisse. 2021.
  4. Highlights of Prescribing information.” FDA. 2012
  5. Fagien, S. “Management of hypotrichosis of the eyelashes: Focus on bimatoprost.” Clinical, cosmetic, and investigational dermatology. 2010
  6. Hazanchuk, H. “What You Should Know About Eyelash Growth Serums.” American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2019
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Zia holds a Master's in Public Health (MPH) from the University of Manchester and is an experienced health and wellness copywriter and digital health journalist. She has over a decade of experience covering diverse topics from public health to ophthalmology, nutrition, and biomedical science. Her mission is to empower and educate people about visual health through engaging, balanced, evidence-based writing. When she's not typing furiously, Zia enjoys traveling and chasing after her dogs.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/zia/
Author: Zia Sherrell  | UPDATED May 16, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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