Latisse: Lashes in a Bottle?

by Tania Houspian, PharmD 2011

Lady at the BarYou bat your lashes and smile seductively at him from across the room. He takes the bait and walks over.  He offers to buy you a drink to which you coyly respond, “Sure” and wink.  What’s this?  Your eye is stuck in the wink position.  You over did the glue when applying your gorgeous fake lashes and now the cute boy is staring at you wondering why you won’t stop winking.  You run to the bathroom and rip off the false lashes wondering why you do this to yourself and if there is an easier way. Well there just might be.  Rumor has it that there is a new drug that can give you the fuller longer lashes you desire without the risk of gluing accidents.  Let’s explore this wonder drug, Latisse, and find out if it’s too good to be true.

Latisse has an interesting history behind it.  Latisse is the brand name for the drug, Bimatoprost. Bimatoprost was initially the active ingredient in another drug called Lumigan, used to treat glaucoma (a disease that affects the eyes of older men and women).  Latisse LashesYes, same drug…different brand name.  So how does a drug used to treat a disease that can lead to blindness turn into a drug that can give us longer, fuller lashes? This is how it went down: Men and women using Lumigan for glaucoma noticed that their lashes were becoming thicker and fuller and reported this side affect to the company.  The drug company realized that this “side affect” might actually be something people without glaucoma would pay to experience.  They reapplied with the FDA for approval of their old drug, Bimatoprost, for this new use. The FDA approved the use of bimatoprost for hypotrichosis, meaning lack of hair growth.

So does Latisse work? All signs point to yes. A number of research studies show that it increases growth of eyelashes. Ok, so how does it work? That question isn’t as easy to answer because there seems to be no conclusive answer. There are, however, three theories:

  1. It may prolong the growth phase of hair, allowing it to grow longer. Think of it as prolonging puberty and giving you more time to grow. Not that anyone should endure puberty for longer than they already have to…it was just an analogy.

  2. Latisse Time LapseIt wakes up any dormant, lazy hair follicles you have and gets them to start producing hair. It doesn’t increase the number of follicles; it just works with what you already have.

  3. It increases the production of the substance melanin. Melanin is what your skin produces when it’s exposed to the sun and it causes that golden tan coloring Southern Californians love so much. Like your skin, your hair also contains melanin and an increase in melanin means darker and fuller looking lashes.

No gluing, no fake lashes, and no awkward moments needed.  Like with any drug, there are other things that need to be considered in addition to how it works.  Side affects are always a concern and using a medication appropriately is key to preventing those unwanted effects. There is a specific way Latisse must be applied in order to keep side affects to a minimum.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Start with a clean palette. Wash your face, remove any makeup, and take out your contact lenses

  2. Place a drop of Latisse solution on a new applicator (60 applicators come with a month’s supply of Latisse)

  3. Immediately draw the applicator across where the eyelashes meet the skin starting at the inner part of the eye and sweeping to the outer part (similar to how you’d apply a thin line of eyeliner) on the TOP eyelid only

  4. Blot away any extra solution

  5. Grab a new applicator and repeat on your other eye

This process should be done once each night.  If you aren’t going to bed right away you can put your contact lenses in 15 minutes after you apply the solution. Pretty simple, right?

Here’s what NOT to do:

  • Do not apply Latisse to your bottom eye lid (top eyelid only!)

  • Do not put the solution into your eye (it stands to reason that if you don’t have glaucoma you don’t need to decrease the pressure in your eyes)

  • Don’t apply it more than once a day thinking it will make your lashes grow even longer. The results you get from applying ten times a day are the same as once a day. All you would be doing by using it more often is increasing the side effects (which we’ll get to shortly) and you would have to buy more bottles of Latisse…which seems silly to us.

Although it would be nice to do this process once, go to bed and wake up the next day with the lashes you’ve been dreaming of, it takes about 2 months for most people to see a difference in their lashes.  Moreover, if you stop using Latisse your lashes will slowly return to their original state of affairs. There are a couple more downsides to using Latisse:

  1. It can cause the skin of your eyelids to get darker. Why? That’s right, the extra melanin. Once you stop using Latisse your eyelids should go back to normal color.

  2. It can cause your iris to become brown. The iris is the part of your eye that has color already so if you’re a brown-eyed person this may not be an issue. However, if you have blue eyes and like them that way, be careful not to get any of the solution into your eye. Sadly this color change is permanent.

  3. Bushy EyelashesThere is no guarantee that both of your eyes will respond in exactly the same way.  One eye may grow long gorgeous lashes while the other eye doesn’t quiet reach its full potential.

  4. Since it is applied directly on to the eye you may develop eye problems like itching, stinging, redness or vision changes. If you do experience changes with your eyes’ appearance or your vision, stop using Latisse and make an appointment with your doctor to see if Latisse is causing the problem.

Now that you know the good, the bad, and the ugly about Latisse, do you still want to use it?  If you do, make an appointment to talk to your doctor because you need a prescription in order to get it from the pharmacy.  Also note that it costs about $90 for a month’s supply so budget accordingly.  If you’re not turned off by the cost and side affects then go for it and know that the next time a cute boy asks to buy you a drink you can wink worry free.


Bimatoprost New Drug Application 22-369. FDA archives. November 30, 2009

Latisse package insert. Allergan. November 30,2009.


12 2009

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