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If you’re noticing that your lashes are feeling brittle or looking sparser than usual, you might want to consider adding a lash serum to your routine. Here to guide us through the ins and outs of lash serums are Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, a board-certified dermatologist in New York and Vanessa Coppola, a board-certified nurse practitioner at Bare Aesthetic Medical Spa in New Jersey.

First off, do lash serums work?

“The quick answer to this yes and no,” says Coppola. “The only lash growth serum that is clinically proven to work is known as Latisse, which is an FDA approved lash serum that has been shown to promote thickening, darkening and growth of eye lashes,” she explains.

Mariwalla agrees, adding that “it absolutely depends on the formulation. Serums that are by prescription (i.e., Latisse) definitely work to promote growth, while over the counter formulas mainly rely on what is in them,” she says. “Like the hair on your scalp, eyelashes are mainly made up of keratin. Most OTC lash serums contain biotin, which can strengthen keratin, and other ingredients like peptides, panthenol and hyaluronic acid, which work to moisturize and hydrate the lashes, so they give the appearance of being fuller and lusher.”

In other words, you can think of most over the counter lash serums as “lash enhancers,” as opposed to lash growth promoters. “They are unlikely to promote growth, but are effective in what I would call lash optimization, so you’re keeping your lashes well-moisturized and supple to help them appear more lustrous,” adds Coppola.

Are eyelash serums safe?

“Yes, but you have to be careful. If you use too many things around your eyes at once, you can clog your tear ducts,” warns Mariwalla. “Some patients can develop irritation along their eyes or experience eyelid hyperpigmentation, so it looks like you are wearing a soft brown eyeliner even though you’re not,” she adds. “This is unlikely and can be assessed by looking in the mirror and stopping use of the serum.” (Mariwalla also cautions against using eyelash serums while pregnant.)

What are some precautions to take when using an eyelash serum?

If this is your first time using an eyelash serum, gently cleanse your eyelids and do a patch test to determine any sensitives or potential allergies to the serum first. “Once it is established that you can safely tolerate the product, start slow, applying the serum every couple of days, and gradually building up to daily use. And always remember to clean the applicator and never share your lash products with anyone else,” advises Coppola.

Another thing: More is not better when using an eyelash serum, guys. “Apply the product as directed and blot any excess solution away with a clean tissue,” adds Coppola. You don’t want to glob on so much serum that it spreads onto the skin near your lash line (which is where you actually want the serum).

Continue to monitor your eyes for any signs of irritation or any color changes in the eye, and if any abnormalities are noted, contact your ophthalmologist promptly.

How long does it take for lashes to grow?

“Eyelashes, like hair, have a life cycle consisting of three phases: the growth phase (anagen), the degradation phase (catagen) and the resting phase (telogen),” explains Mariwalla. “The growth stage can last anywhere between four to ten weeks during which individual lashes are in different stages of the cycle at different times. Because of this, we usually don’t notice the loss and regrowth of individual lashes, as they’re coming in and naturally falling out at different times,” she adds. If you are noticing more lash loss than usual, consult your eye doctor, as it could potentially point to an underlying health condition.

And whatever you do, please don’t pull at your lashes or use products that tug at the lashes (i.e., certain mascara wands or using a dirty eyelash curler).

Alright, now that you are well-versed in eyelash serums, here are the best over the counter options to try. Remember: These serums can make your eyelashes healthier and may help with their overall appearance, but do not guarantee growth.

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1. RevitaLash ADVANCED Eyelash Conditioner

Pro Pick

Meet Meghan Markle’s go-to lash serum. Formulated with a blend of natural botanical ingredients, this serum is a true lash conditioner that works to prevent breakage and brittleness, while improving moisture and shine of each hair. Markle isn’t the only fan; Revitalash is the only ophthalmologist approved lash serum on the market and has many rave reviews reporting that their eyelashes are “thicker, longer, look much healthier” with continued use.

Buy it ($98)

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2. GrandeLash-MD

Editor Favorite

Duchess Meghan may swear by RevitaLash, but our PureWow editors stan the GrandeLash-MD serum (which is also slightly more affordable than the former pick, in case you’re on the fence). One of our colleagues raved that though she’s always had decent lashes, no one ever commented on them until she started using this serum. “I’m not kidding when I say that sometimes they reach my eyebrows—that’s how long they’ve gotten,” she shared. The formula is infused with a blend of vitamins, peptides, and amino acids to promote naturally longer and thicker looking lashes in four to six weeks, with full results in three months.

Buy it ($65)

3. Pronexa Hairgenics Lavish Lash

Best Budget

At 29 bucks a tube, this serum makes the smallest dent in your wallet. And with nearly 39,000 positive reviews on Amazon, it seems it holds its own in terms of performance as well. Made with peptides, biotin and botanical extracts to condition your lashes, the serum imparts a lustrous sheen to your lashes and brows, while improving the density and thickness of them over time. One skeptical reviewer used it for two months and raves that “it looks like she’s wearing fake eyelashes.” Another user had promising results using it on her eyebrows. “My brows have been overplucked for years [but] after a couple of weeks of using Lavish Lash, I noticed that hairs were starting to grow back.”

Buy it ($29)

4. Lashfood Phyto-Medic Eyelash Enhancer

Cleanest Formula

As the only Ecocert-approved pick on the list, this clean formula uses a blend of botanical ingredients like arginine, lavender water and soy protein to strengthen thinning lashes and encourage new growth. Created by a team of cosmetic scientists and tested by dermatologists, the serum is a safer choice (there is no prostaglandin, synthetic fragrances, synthetic dyes, mineral oils, phenoxyethanol, PEG, petrochemicals, GMOs or formaldehyde donors in the formula) for those who are especially conscious about their beauty products. As one reviewer shared, “I was very skeptical when purchasing this, but the results don’t lie. My husband and mother both mentioned how long my lashes looked, and I wasn’t wearing mascara. Also, my eyes are extremely sensitive and easily irritated and the serum doesn’t bother them at all.”

Buy it ($78)

5. neuLASH Lash Enhancing Serum

Best Splurge

The biggest upside for this pricey serum, according to its many fans, is that you begin to see results faster than you do with other formulas. (Think 30 days as opposed to 60 or 90.) Simply swipe a little over your upper lashline every night before bed and let the polypeptides and biotin get to work while you snooze. Consistent use will turn brittle, sparse fringe into fuller, stronger lashes. One reviewer has been using the serum throughout the [Covid-19] pandemic and swears it’s worth the time and money (especially considering the cost of the monthly appointments she used to keep up with for her lash extensions).

Buy it ($150)

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