Grow Longer Thicker Eyelashes

These days, many women are just not happy with the appearance of their eyelashes.  They try countless ways to improve the look of their eyes, including eyelash weaves, false lashes, and any number of products and potions.  If you’re looking for longer, thicker lashes and your mascara just isn’t getting the job done fear not.  A new product is on the market that actually grows your own lashes!  It’s called LATISSE® and is the first product approved for such use by the FDA.  This prescription eyelash enhancement formula is clinically proven to give you longer, thicker, and darker eyelashes.  The story of how this came to be illustrates how careful observations by clinicians can often lead to new “blockbuster drugs.”

LATISSE® (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.03% is actually the same thing as LUMIGAN® (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution) 0.03%, which was first approved for the treatment of ocular hypertension and open-angle glaucoma in the United States in 2001 and is currently approved in over 80 countries worldwide.

Glaucoma and Eyelash Growth

Glaucoma is a disease where too much fluid builds up in the eye.  This results in increased intraocular pressure which, if left untreated, will damage the optic nerve.  Optic nerve damage will lead to a gradual loss of vision and possibly blindness.  In the event of early detection, the condition can be managed and irreversible vision loss avoided.

There are three different medications, also known as ophthalmic prostaglandin analogs, used to reduce fluid pressure in people who have glaucoma or high intraocular pressure.  They are Xalatan®, by Pfizer (latanoprost ophthalmic solution), Travatan®, by Alcon (travoprost ophthalmic solution), and LUMIGAN®, by Allergan (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.)  Ophthalmologist noticed an interesting side effect in patients who used these drugs – they experienced significant darkening, thickening and lengthening of their eyelashes.

Over time, people began to hear of this amazing side effect and wondered if they would receive the same results if they used these drops in their eyes.  They did, but doctors are not supposed to prescribe medication for uses not intended or approved.  Many unregulated products are floating around.  Their formulas often contain prostaglandin-analog active ingredients, but they are not FDA approved.


Allergan, the maker of LUMIGAN®, recognized the demand for a product that would grow eyelashes, so they approached the FDA to get permission to develop a program for the bimatoprost solution with the specific purpose of growing eyelashes.  Since they already had received FDA approval for LUMIGAN®, it didn’t take much more work to get the formula approved for this purpose.  What is different is the way in which it’s applied.

LUMIGAN® is placed directly onto the eye for the purpose of reducing fluid pressure within the eye.  When people would put the drops in their eye, obviously some of it would run out and get into their eyelashes and make them grow.  Allergan needed to develop a topical method of application that focuses on the eyelash part of the eyelid and not the eye itself for those who do not have an intraocular pressure condition.

What they developed is a unique delivery system.  Although the concentration of bimatoprost 0.03% solution applied on the eyelid is the same as that used to treat glaucoma, the specially designed applicator brush limits the amount of product delivered by 95%, so that only 5% of the regular dose amount for glaucoma is brushed into the eyelashes.

While no one knows for sure how the bimatoprost 0.03% solution works, it appears to cause three things to happen.  First, it prolongs the growth phase of the hair cycle, resulting in longer length.  Second, it stimulates the resting follicles, resulting in thicker/fuller lashes.  Third, it increases the syntheses of melanin, which darkens the color of the eyelashes.

To verify the effectiveness of LATISSE® digital image analysis was performed on participant’s eyelashes to measure the change in their growth, fullness, and color as shown by an increase in intensity of darkness.  Obvious improvements were noted at weeks 8, 12, and 16.  When the applications were discontinued the results gradually disappeared and they eyelashes went back to their previous state.

LATISSE® is an easy to use, once-a-day treatment you apply yourself to the base of the upper eyelashes.

  • Before using make sure your face is clean, your makeup and contact lenses are removed, and all other facial care products are applied.
  • Use one sterile applicator per eye.  Hold the applicator horizontally, place one drop of LATISSE® solution on the area of the applicator closest to the tip but not on the tip.
  • Draw the applicator along the skin at the base of the upper eyelashes, starting from the inner part of your lash line to the outer part.
  • Blot any excess solution with a tissue.

Do not allow the tip of the bottle or applicator to touch anything, including your fingers, in order to avoid contamination by bacteria, which could cause an infection.

Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects include an itching sensation in the eyes and/or eye redness.  Other less common conditions include skin darkening, or hyperpigmentation, along the lash line, eye irritation, dryness of the eyes, redness of the eyelids, and the possibility of hair growth to occur on other parts of your skin that LATISSE® repeatedly touches.  These conditions clear up once you discontinue using the product.

Another possible side effect, which is permanent, is the darkening of the iris.  “LUMIGAN® is known to cause darkening of the iris (the colorful part of the eye,) which mainly happens in irises with the yellowish collarette’s around the pupil,” states Dr. Paul Jernigan, DO.  “This happens because of stimulation of the melanocytes in the iris.  Will this happen with those using LATISSE®?  If applied properly, which is the key with LATISSE®, hopefully this wouldn’t happen.  It is about absorption into the actual eye ball itself…if it stays on just the lids you wouldn’t expect to see the ocular side effects that happen with this class of glaucoma drugs used to treat pressure issues in the eye.”

LATISSE’s® success in growing eyelashes has many people wondering if it will have the same effect on your head.  Allergan is exploring this option.  During their second quarter of 2009 earnings conference call Executive Vice President of Research & Development, Dr. Scott Whitcup, told investors “We’re in the midst of looking at a number of [selections] by Bimatoprost [the chemical name for Latisse and Lumigan] for hair growth on the scalp.  Unlike Lumigan for glaucoma, we don’t have the eight years plus of clinical trials data so we’re sort of starting from scratch.  It’s a little too early to give you the final timeline but we are working as quickly as we can to get a formulation, get the pre-clinical work done and into the clinic and we’ll update you as soon as we have more from timeline.”


LATISSE’s® popularity is on the rise, but a major consideration for most women is the cost.  A price $120 per month, which works out to $1440 per year, might be more than most women can afford for fancy eyelashes.  Discounts are available if you buy more than one month’s supply at a time.  LATISSE® is available in certain doctor’s offices, medispas, and online.  Any doctor can write a prescription for it, and it is not covered by insurance.

Eyelash Transplant

If paying almost $1500 per year is too much, another option to consider is an eyelash transplant.  This is a medical procedure where a doctor takes hairs from your scalp and implants them into your eyelid.  The number of hairs depends upon the particular situation of the patient.  A transplant session takes anywhere from one to three hours and may require two to three sessions.  Recovery takes 7 – 14 days and during that time the patient may need to sleep in goggles to prevent scratching and dislodging the new eyelashes.  Transplanted hairs will begin to grow soon after the procedure.  Some will grow outward and away from the eye, just like natural eyelashes, while others will need to be “trained” to behave as eyelashes.  This includes coating the new hairs with lash oil and using an eyelash curler to encourage proper curl.  The “new lashes” must also be trimmed regularly to maintain proper length.  The cost for this is around $5000 to $10,000.

Beautiful eyelashes are not cheap, but for some women, they are definitely worth the price.

Additional Information

One Response to “Grow Longer Thicker Eyelashes”

  • I thought it is all about cosmetic eyelashes transplant. I haven’t tried Latisse because it is a good thing I have natural thick eyelashes already. But I think it is a good thing for people who wants to grow longer eyelashes to use Latisse.