Eyelashes have long been considered a focal point to a person’s face. Women have used cosmetic products such as mascara and eyeliner to draw attention to theirs. One study estimated that women spend an estimated $1.1 billion each year on mascara alone. This is not taking in account the expense of different serums to encourage lash growth, false lashes or having lash extensions professionally applied to achieve length and volume.

What is it?

The medication bimatoprost — marketed under the brand name Latisse — is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat inadequate eyelashes (hypotrichosis). With regular applications along the lash line of the upper eyelid, Latisse gradually encourages growth of longer, thicker and darker eyelashes. Science suggests that it stimulates the hair cells to go into a growth cycle (anagen) when normally they would be in a hibernation state. Typically, it takes several weeks to start seeing eyelash growth by stimulating the hair growth cycle. While you may see eyelashes growing in as early as one month, the most dramatic change won’t be visible until three to four months after you’ve started using Latisse.

How to use?

• Do not apply to the lower lid or in the eye and blot excess solution with a tissue.
• Only use the sterile applicators supplied with LATISSE® to apply the product.
• Don’t allow the tip of the bottle or applicator to touch fingers or any other unintended surface, as contamination by common bacteria is known to cause infections.
• Remove contact lenses prior to applying LATISSE®. Contact lenses may be reinserted 15 minutes afterwards.

Potential side effects of Latisse include:

• Redness of the thin tissue over the white part of the eye (conjunctiva)
• Itchy, red eyes
• Dry eyes
• Darkened eyelids
• Darkened brown pigmentation in the colored part of the eye (iris)
• Hair growth around the eyes if the medication regularly runs or drips off the eyelids

Although darkened eyelids might fade when the medication is stopped, any changes in iris color are likely to be permanent. The time it takes to see the lashes grow is how long it takes to see the lashes go back to normal if you stop using the medication. So, if you quit at the first sign of a fuller fringe, that won’t last.

If you’re concerned about the appearance of your eyelashes, talk to your doctor. He or she can help you weigh the pros and cons of using an eyelash-growing medication.