What’s the deal with eyelash serums?

Everything you need to know about eyelash serums

We speak to an expert to find out if they really work

Beauty Crew Beauty Writer / October 04 2018

Fact: We’ll pretty much try anything for longer, fuller lashes. Whether it’s the latest slew of volumising and lengthening mascaras or in-salon treatments such as lash lifts and eyelash extensions, we are THERE.

While you may have heard of eyelash serums, chances are you’ve probably never tried one because a) you’re skeptical of whether or not they even work, b) you don’t know which brand is the best, or c) you’re scared you’ll somehow end up doing more damage than good.

So, whats the deal? To help us suss it all out, we spoke to Jodie King from Sydney’s Skin Clinic at Blyss. As it turns out, lash serums are well worth a try. King says they not only work to boost the growth of lashes, but also strengthen and nourish them.

Sounds pretty good, right? Before you rush out and buy one though, it’s important to note that there are two types of eyelash serums to choose from: prescription ones and over-the-counter ones. Prescription eyelash serums contain active ingredients and work to encourage the growth of lashes. On the other hand, over-the-counter serums focus more on conditioning, nourishing and strengthening your existing lashes.

How do you know which one is right for you? Well, as you can guess by the name, prescription eyelash serums will require you to chat to a licensed medical practitioner as you will need a script to get your hands on one of these. If you’re experiencing eyelash hair loss (which is a real thing BTW), then a prescription eyelash serum is definitely worth exploring.

“[Prescription] Eyelash serums’ mechanism of action is to create more hair follicles during the hair growing cycle,” explains King, adding that they are also formulated to “condition and strengthen lashes so they are less likely to break or fall out; boost the lashes with vitamins that protect them from external aggressors; as well as hydrate and add shine”.

King notes that prescription formulas contain ingredients bimatoprost and prostaglandins, which take follicles that are currently in telogen (resting) phase and induce the anagen (growing) phase. These ingredients also encourage melanin production, resulting in thicker, darker lashes.

If you’re not looking for a prescription-level commitment and are just a volume-hungry gal who wants to up your lash game, look for an over-the-counter lash serum instead. While over-the-counter serums may not have an impact on the growth cycle of your lashes, they act like lash conditioners to make lashes thicker, healthier and stronger - meaning they’ll be less likely to break or fall out.

For the over-the-counter formulas, King says to look out for ingredients such as hyaluronic acid for hydration, glycerin for conditioning and peptides to boost volume. Some of our faves include: RevitaLash Advanced, Hydropeptide Lash Fuller Longer Lusher and Rapid Lash Eyelash and Eyebrow Enhancing Serum.

King says its important to do your research before using any kind of eyelash serum and to avoid any formulas that include the ingredient isopropyl cloprostenate. “[Isopropyl cloprostenate] can cause irritation, a change in colour of the iris, as well as other side effects that include dry eye and eye inflammation.”

There’s also a risk that eyelash serum formulations can cause sensitivity or an adverse reaction. Err on the side of caution and do a patch test first, and start off only using your lash serum a couple times a week instead of every day.

It’s also important to note eyelash serums don’t provide a permanent fix. “Results last as long as you are using the product. Once you stop, lashes will go back to normal,” says King.

But, if you’re in it for the long haul, King says you should expect some pretty good results. “When used correctly, along the top lashes only, lash serums can be effective in increasing lash growth as well as eyebrow growth.” King adds that it will take between eight to 12 weeks to see results, as that’s how long your lash’s hair growth cycle is.  

If you’re looking for more tips on how to achieve fuller-looking lashes, check out everything you need to know about eyelash extensions.

Have you used an eyelash serum before? Which ones do you recommend? Let us know in the comment section below.

Main image credit: @kyliejenner

Erin Docherty is a Beauty Writer for BEAUTYcrew, Beauty Editor for Women's Health magazine and a Grooming Writer for Men's Health magazine. She has a keen interest in cosmeceutical skin care and is currently working on minimising her 9-step skin care routine – because ain’t nobody got time for that. When she’s not writing about the latest beauty news, or applying copious amounts of serum, you can find her spending all her money in Sephora.