Lash serums may be the answer if you want longer eyelashes without applying makeup. Latisse is a prescription lash serum that’s clinically proven to make eyelashes longer, thicker, and darker.1
However, there’s important safety information to consider when using Latisse. This article covers how to use Latisse lash serum, who shouldn’t use it, and potential side effects. Talk to your eye doctor before using a prescription or over-the-counter lash serum.
What Is Latisse?
Latisse prescription lash serum is an FDA-approved treatment for sparse or inadequate lashes (hypotrichosis). It’s also known as bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03%.
When applied directly to the lash line, Latisse encourages eyelash growth.
According to clinical studies, around 8 in 10 people experience eyelash growth after using Latisse. Following 16 weeks of use, lashes may increase up to 25% in length and 106% in thickness.1
How Does Latisse Work?
Although experts aren’t entirely sure how Latisse works, it appears to affect the eyelash growth cycle. It extends the length of the growth (anagen) phase and increases the number of hairs that grow from the eyelid. Eyelashes look fuller and grow longer before falling out.
Bimatoprost is the active ingredient in Latisse. It’s a prostaglandin analog (a class of drugs that lowers eye pressure), originally used to treat glaucoma.
However, doctors noticed that people using bimatoprost medication developed longer, thicker eyelashes. The product was then remarketed as a beauty solution.
How to Apply and Use Latisse
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.
Proper application is critical 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:
- Remove one of the single-use sterile applicators from the tray and hold it horizontally.
- Place one drop of Latisse solution close to the applicator tip but not on the tip.
- 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 Latisse solution will spread to the lower eyelid lash line as you blink.
- Blot excess solution with a tissue and dispose of the applicator.
- Repeat for the opposite eyelid using a new, sterile applicator to avoid contamination.
What Not to Do When Applying Latisse
Here are things to avoid when you apply the Latisse solution:
- Don’t apply more than one drop. This does not increase the effectiveness of the medication.
- Don’t apply in the eye or to the lower lid. 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; Latisse is no exception. Full results can take several months.
Here’s a general timeline of the results most people see with consistent use:3
- 4 weeks. Increased eyelash length
- 8 weeks. Thicker, darker lashes
- 12 weeks. Enhanced results compared to previous weeks
- 16 weeks. Dramatically thicker, darker, and longer lashes
What Happens When You Stop Using Latisse?
Even if you’re satisfied with the results before the full 16 weeks, continue the treatment. If you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to their previous appearance.
After 16 weeks, 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.
Potential Risks and Side Effects of Latisse
As an FDA-approved treatment Latisse has minimal side effects. People typically tolerate it well. However, using Latisse does involve some risk of side effects and eye problems.
Common Side Effects
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:
- Eyelid skin darkening
- 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 part of the eye.5 This side effect is irreversible.
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
When to Stop Using Latisse
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.
When to See a Doctor
Call an ophthalmologist immediately if you’re using Latisse and experience any of the following:
- Infection (swelling, redness, warmth to the touch)
- Allergic reaction
- Decreased vision
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 the safe use of Latisse in these groups.4 Additionally, anyone who’s had an allergic reaction to any ingredients in Latisse should avoid using the product.
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. The safety and efficacy of OTC 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, little scientific evidence supports any claims of lash growth.
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 specifically formulated for the eye area. For example, some oils can irritate the eyes when applied 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.
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