What Is An Eyelash Serum — And Do I Need One?

Missing your monthly eyelash bar visit? Maybe an eyelash serum could help.

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close up of a woman's eye and eyelashes
Image credit: Alexander_Safonov/Shutterstock

Do eyelash serums really help your eyelashes grow?

I’ve always loved big, fluffy lashes. I’ve been piling on mascara since I was I don’t know, four? And pre-COVID I was a total sucker for eyelash extensions. But with eyelash bars shuttered during lockdown and mask-wearing meaning that eyes are the only thing anyone sees, I started stocking up on over-the-counter eyelash serums.

Thanks to the same aging processes that affect our skin and hair, many women over forty start to see thinning eyelashes, too. But Sonya Abdulla, a dermatologist at Dermatology on Bloor in Toronto warns that there’s a big difference between a medical-grade growth serum that actually makes lashes longer and the ever-expanding list of over-the-counter lash serums that hydrate and strengthen lashes.

“The same way that you can condition the hair on your scalp you can use similar products to condition your eyelashes,” she says. “Over-the-counter serums don’t necessarily make the eyelashes grow more quickly—they’re there to provide some TLC.”

The only product officially approved for eyelash growth in Canada is Latisse, whose main ingredient is a hormone called bimatoprost. Latisse prolongs the growth phase of the eyelash life cycle and costs around $200-$225 for a four-month daily supply—after that, the general idea is to use it a few times a week to maintain your new Bambi lashes — and can only be dispensed by a doctor. (Many people, myself included, have also had success actually lengthening their lashes with Eye Envy, which you can get for about $100 at salons and fancier nail bars, but the brand is secretive about the active ingredient and it isn’t sold online).

Side effects from Latisse are rare but can include skin and eye irritation, permanent dark flecks on your iris, (especially for people who have green or hazel eyes), and discolouration of the eyelid skin. Abdulla warns that you also have to be careful that Latisse doesn’t drip onto other parts of your face, where it can also stimulate hair growth.

Not ready for medical-grade-level lash intervention yet? Here are some of the best over-the-counter conditioning lash serums you can try first for a healthier wink.

(Related: The Top Beauty Trends to Come Out of Pandemic Life)

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Lacome Lash Serum
Courtesy of LAcome

Lancôme CILS Booster Lash Revitalizing Serum

This new serum promises to refuel lashes with four weeks of twice-daily use. Eyelashes are composed primarily of keratin, and keratin consists mainly of amino acids, so Lancôme has combined four of the most concentrated amino acids found naturally in lashes—along with hydrating and plumping hyaluronic acid—into this super-charged lash smoothie.

$64, lancome.ca.

(Related: 8 Drugstore Beauty Products That’ll Make You Want to Play With Makeup Again)

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Luna Nectar
Courtesy of Luna Nectar

Luna Nectar Moon Boost Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum

This Canadian all-natural brand is made with organic argan and almond oils, moisturizing Vitamin E and aloe vera, lengthening biotin and collagen-building bamboo extract. The formula is vegan, cruelty-free and is safe to use with eyelash extensions, too.

$75, lunanectar.com.

(Related: The Best Sustainable Beauty Tools For Every Step of Your Routine)

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Courtesy of RapidLash

RapidLash Eyelash and Eyebrow Enhancing Serum

A popular drugstore pick, this serum is a potent mix of strengthening biotin and moisturizing panthenol, soybean oil and pumpkin seed extract for shine and those all-important amino acids to boost the building blocks of each hair. Cruelty and paraben free.

$69, shoppersdrugmart.ca.

(Related: An Easy, Glitzy Eye to Wear Over Your Mask When You Need a Pick-Me-Up)

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Plume Lash Serum
Courtesy of Flume

Plume Lash & Brow Enhancing Serum

This preservative-free formula is full of nourishing natural ingredients like hickory bark, castor oil, watercress, honey, aloe and Vitamin E and is gentle enough for sensitive eyes and skin. It’s also safe to use if you’re wearing extensions.

$95, thedetoxmarket.com.

(Related: All The Gear You Need to Stay Active Outdoors all Winter Long)

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Vichy Lash Serum
Courtesy of Vichy

Vichy Liftactiv Supreme 10 Eyes & Lashes

Gotta love a two-in-one formula — this one moisturizes the delicate skin around your eyes with rhamnose (a naturally-derived plant sugar) while also giving lashes a boost with moisturizing ceramides.

$46, shoppersdrugmart.ca.

(Related: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Your Skin Smooth All Winter Long)

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Lash Food Lash Serum
Courtesy of Lash Food

LashFood Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer

This Ecocert-certified formula is easy on the planet and its squeaky clean ingredient list, which includes lavender flower water, arginine, ginseng root extract and soy protein has earned it a “Clean at Sephora” label, too.

$100, sephora.com.

Next: 7 Dry Hair Tips to Keep Your Locks Happy All Winter Long

Originally Published in Best Health Canada

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