Latisse Review: Does It Work and What Are the Side Effects?

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Latisse (bimatoprost .03% solution) is used to treat sparse, thinning, and short eyelashes, making them grow longer and fuller. This review, written by a health care professional who has worked with ophthalmologists, will focus on its efficacy (how well i

Advertisements for Latisse have been prominent on television and in beauty magazines over the past couple of years.  Brooke Shields was the first to appear in their advertisements, looking sultry and coy, as if she had a secret.  If you are not familiar with the ads, you may not know what Latisse is. 

What Is Latisse?

Latisse is the brand name of a product which helps to grow lashes thicker and longer, and has had widespread appeal for women who have sparse or short lashes (hypotrichosis).  The chemical compound name for Latisse is bimatoprost, which is in a .03% buffered solution (which means it contains a preservative/stabilizer) and is manufactured by Allergan. The interesting fact about this product is that it was not actually developed for this purpose, but rather to treat patients with elevated intraocular pressure, a condition associated with glaucoma.  The product is a prostaglandin, and is sold under the brand name LumiganLumigan and Latisse are indeed the same compound - bimatoprost .03% solution (with .005% benzalkonium chloride preservative).  Because virtually all of the patients who use Lumigan noticed that their eyelashes started growing longer, thicker, and usually darker, the people at Allergan saw a secondary market for cosmetic purposes. . . and it took off like wildfire.  It has since been approved by the FDA, for cosmetic use, and is only available through prescription by a medical doctor.

Does Latisse Really Work?

The short answer to that question is yes.  However, it is not just that simple, as the efficacy of this product varies among individuals.  When you search for personal testimonials² on Latisse, the experiences of these women echo what I have witnessed myself1 in literally hundreds of glaucoma patients (I am an ophthalmic technician).

First, the Good News:

  • eyelashes begin to fill out after 4 - 6 weeks of use
  • after 12 - 16 weeks, lashes are often doubled in volume, darker, and up to twice as long as they were prior to using Latisse

...and the Not So Good News:

  • when you stop using Latisse, your lashes will return to their previous state once the natural lash-shedding cycle has taken place
  • lashes will quite often grow in odd directions, instead of uniformly curved
  • sometimes the growth is patchy, with areas that are still sparse
  • the lashes on both eyes may look different - one side might have longer, thicker, or darker lashes
  • most people do experience some negative side effects of using Latisse
  • it can get expensive if you plan on continuing long-term usage (prices range from around $80 - $120US per 3 mL bottle which lasts about 6-8 weeks, maybe longer depending on usage)

What Are the Side Effects?

These side effects are listed in order of most to least common (you can expect to experience the first five side effects):

  • your eyes and surrounding skin make you look tired
  • itchy eyes; a feeling like you have a foreign body in your eye, which may or may not decrease after using Latisse for a month or two
  • eye and eyelid margins look red and may not clear up
  • eyelid margins, eyelids, and/or surrounding skin become pigmented brown (more prominent in fair-skinned individuals) which may or may not return to normal if Latisse is discontinued³
  • your eyes feel dry³
  • hair may grow in unwanted areas if the solution comes in contact with the skin surrounding the eye³
  • the color of your iris can change, usually taking on a brown pigment (this side effect has proven to be permanent, as far as studies have shown)³
  • shooting, stabbing, or throbbing pain in the eye³

Other Important Information

  • Although the bimatoprost treatment for elevated eye pressure is instilled directly into the eye, and Latisse is applied to the upper lash base only, the side effects remain the same.
  • You should have a thorough eye examination (by an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist) prior to using Latisse
  • Latisse is available only by prescription; however, there are websites which will sell it to you without you actually seeing a doctor.  They have you fill out a medical questionnaire provided by a doctor, and then decide if you are eligible.  For your own safety, DO NOT PURCHASE this product on the Internet.
  • There are alternative products which will help to grow your lashes without the nasty side effects, although they do not provide equivalent lash growth.  I have used Volume Accelerator Mascara by Rimmel, Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara, and Loreal Lash Serum and Mascara.  I have found the most effective to be Loreal Lash Serum.

Summary

Yes, you can experience thicker, fuller, darker lashes by using Latisse.  But if you look objectively and study the pros and cons carefully - putting aside that part of you which is craving more beautiful lashes - you may decide that the risk outweighs the benefit.  Only you can make that decision.  And if you do decide to enhance your lashes with Latisse, please do so with the watchful care of a trusted physician.

© Sharla Smith, March 2012

Sources:

1.  Personal witness to patients using bimatoprost, and general knowledge from industry training in the field of Ophthalmology/Optometry

2.  The testimonials from actual users of Latisse:  http://www.eyelash-growth.com/reviews/latisse/

3.  Product insert information provided with bimatoprost:  Read this BEFORE purchasing Latisse

Primary Image Source: veave pl; Stock.xchng

Inset Image Source:  Google Images, actual bimatoprost results as revealed by Allergan on ABC News

18 comments

Sharla Smith
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