Do Lash Growth Serums Really Work? Here's What You Need to Know

Plus the best lash serums that really deliver.

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lash serum
Dermstore.com

It's safe to say that longer lashes are a universal desire—just take a look at all the lash treatments, lengthening mascaras, and false lashes out there. In my quest for longer, fluttery lashes, one of my former addictions was getting lash extensions—often—but excessive lash extensions can cause some damage to your natural lashes. Enter: lash serums, the best solution to eyelash loss or genetically short lashes.

You don't need to have had lash extensions to use a lash serum regularly, of course. In fact, ever since I started using a lash serum regularly, I opt for lash extensions less and less. But that also doesn't mean that every lash serum out there is going to give you the Bambi lashes of your dreams. So, we tapped Dendy Engelman, M.D., FACMS, FAAD, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City, to break down exactly what you should be looking for in an effective lash growth serum.

Do lash growth serums really work?

Truth be told, the term lash growth serum is a tad misleading because the only FDA-approved treatment for lash growth is Latisse. If you really want something proven effective for growth and thickness, you can talk to your dermatologist or doctor about getting a prescription (which Latisse needs).

If you're not ready to make a prescription-level commitment, no worries—that doesn't mean there's no point in using an OTC option. Most OTC lash serums rely on a long list of moisturizing ingredients and/or follicle-stimulating peptides to leave your lashes stronger and more conditioned—and subsequently looking darker and fuller—or a comparable growth ingredient to bimatoprost (available in prescription Latisse), such as isopropyl cloprostenate.

According to Dr. Engelman, some lash serums do work, while others might not be as effective—it's really all about doing your research and choosing the one that has the ingredient list and formulation to back up their claims. "Most of the lash serums that work have a prostaglandin derivative in them that elongates the anagen (growth) phase of the lash," explains Dr. Engleman. "As we age, our hair naturally tends to get thinner and drier, and hair loss becomes more common. While we tend to worry most about this happening on our heads, the reality is that it affects our lashes and eyebrows as well."

Nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 are vital for healthy hair and growth, so by supplementing these nutrients, lash serums can help extend hair growth and keep the hair healthier and stronger. "Targeting and extending the anagen growth phase of the lashes (the first phase of growth, in which lashes are actively growing) is an important need of an effective lash growth serum," says Dr. Engelman.

What are the ingredients in lash growth serums that make them effective?

The ingredients in eyelash serums do many things—they serve to supplement the hair with what it needs to grow effectively, condition from root to tip, and add shine in order to help lashes appear overall longer and fuller. "There are natural lash serums, which of course use only natural ingredients, and serums that are not 100% natural, which contain lab-made ingredients," says Dr. Engelman.

Amino acids and peptides are important actives to look for in an eyelash serum. "Two or more amino acids together form a peptide, which is a key component of most lash serums because peptides repair damage to the hair protein and strengthen and improve the appearance of lashes," explains Dr. Engelman.

Vitamin B, or biotin, is also heavily used in lash serums. "Keratin is a protein that serves as a building block for strong, healthy hair (including lashes), and vitamin B/biotin is known to strengthen the keratin in lash hairs," says Dr. Engelman.

Other natural ingredients commonly found in lash growth serums are rosemary, castor oil, and olive oil. "Castor oil contains ricinoleic acid, which is antimicrobial, detoxifying, and moisturizing to the follicle," says Dr. Engelman. "Both castor oil and olive oil can help strengthen the hairs and add shine, which gives lashes the appearance of being fuller."

What should you look for in a lash growth serum?

You want to look for ingredients that are designed to target the health of the follicle and the strength and appearance of the lashes themselves. "As mentioned before, extending the anagen (first growth) phase of eyelash growth is important, and something to look out for in a truly effective formula," says Dr. Engelman. "Amino acids/peptides are common in lash serums and are great for improving the strength and growth of lashes. Conditioning agents are also great to look for, as they keep the skin and hair moisturized, and contribute to fuller-looking lashes."

Make your search for the best lash growth serum a little easier with a curated list, below.

Grande Cosmetics GrandeLASH MD Lash Enhancing Serum

4.9
Grande Cosmetics GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum

Grande Cosmetics

GrandLASH is an award-winning eyelash serum that has a cult following. The formula boasts vitamins, amino acids, and antioxidants to help boost the length and strength of your lashes in about four to six weeks (with regular use).

RevitaLash Cosmetics Advanced Eyelash Conditioner

revitalash eyelash conditioner

Nordstrom

Dr. Engelman recommends RevitaLash as a nice over-the-counter option. "It has been proven to improve at all stages of the hair growth cycle, and I also love that it's free of nasty ingredients like parabens, sulfates, and phthalates, so the risk of irritation is lower."

BABE LASH Essential Serum

BABE LASH Essential Serum

Amazon

Featuring nourishing ingredients like biotin and amino acids, this pick from BABE LASH promises to enhance your lashes in just weeks. Plus, it's oil-free and safe to use with any eyelash extensions you may be rocking.

MDhair Advanced Eyelash Serum

MDhair Advanced Eyelash Serum

MDhair

This gorgeous growth serum is loaded with beneficial ingredients you might not find in other eyelash growth serums. The formula includes pterocarpus marsupium to reduce the aging process of the hair follicles (meaning they won't fall out as easily), and pumpkin seed oil to support natural regrowth of thicker lashes. This pick also contains hyaluronic acid and biotin to really nourish and strengthen lashes with every use.

Vegamour GRO+ Advanced Lash Serum

Vegamour GRO+ Advanced Lash Serum

Vegamour

If you're looking for a more "clean" lash serum option, consider trying the Vegamour GRO+ Advanced Lash Serum. This pick is made without carcinogens and hormones, and is 100 percent vegan and cruelty-free too.

Obagi Nu-Cil Eyelash Enhancing Serum

Obagi Nu-Cil Eyelash Enhancing Serum

Dermstore

Personally, I've been using this lash serum for a few months and have seen great results. So good, in fact, that an esthetician commented on how beautiful my lashes were during my last facial. This serum uses NouriPlex Technology to improve the appearance of lashes' thickness, density, and volume while also adding moisture.

neuLASH Lash Enhancing Serum

Skin Research Laboratories NeuLASH Lash Enhancing Serum

Amazon

Featuring polypeptides and sodium hyaluronate, this pick from neuLash will make sparse, thinning lashes appear thick and long, while pumpkin seed extract helps to promote more voluminous lashes for the long haul.

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

 Courtesy of Ulta

This pick is formulated with something called Hexatein 1 Complex, which is specifically designed to fortify, moisturize, and condition the lashes with each use. It also includes polypeptides, biotin, panthenol, amino acids, soybean oil, and pumpkin seed extract for a super-nourishing treatment.

Envious Lashes Lash Conditioning Serum

Envious Lashes Lash Conditioning Serum

Courtesy of Envious Lashes

Celebrity lash expert Clementina Richardson knows a thing or two about keeping natural lashes strong and long, before, during, and after eyelash extensions. The eyelash serum from her own line features natural botanical components to help your lashes stay resilient to breakage.

Talika Lipocils Expert Ultimate Eyelash Growth Serum

Talika Lipocils Expert Ultimate Eyelash Growth Serum

Amazon

An oldie but a goodie, the Talika Lipocils Expert Ultimate Eyelash Growth Serum goes on like a mascara, but acts like a lash serum. The tip is the most unique we've seen, featuring a hybrid foam and brush combo to allow you to swipe the serum along your lash line, and then use the wand to sweep the formula through your lashes, from root to tip.

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