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Eyelash Growing

Tips for Eyelash Growing Products – From an Eye Doctor

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Are you trying to grow and lengthen your eyelashes? There are a few things you need to know about this beauty trend to stay safe and avoid unwanted side effects.

One of the main purposes of your eyelashes is to keep dust, pollen, and foreign objects out of your eyes. I think of it like a broom. Your lashes are an important part of your eye structure, so please take care of them. Your eyelashes are all growing in different stages, much like the hair on your head. The average lifespan of an eyelash is about 3 months.

There are many beauty trends right now aimed to lengthen, strengthen, and darken eyelashes. Here are a few things you should know:

Eyelash perming or curling:

eyelash treatmentEyelash perming or curling is a common service performed in which a solution is placed on your eyelashes and allowed to rest for a few minutes. Once the technician rinses everything off, the result is a lifted, curled eyelash. It is similar to someone perming their hair, which results in a curled effect. I actually had this done a few years ago. It didn’t really work for me (probably due to the fact that I have Asian eyelashes, which are very straight to begin with).

Caution: Eyelash perming involves ammonium, which breaks down the keratin shaft, allowing the eyelash to be curled. Ammonium is toxic to the skin on the eyelid and the eyeball itself. This should be taken into consideration because you will need to get this service done every 6-12 weeks to maintain the curled look. Over-exposure to ammonium on your eye may do damage over time.

Eyelash extensions:

eyelashes 2This is a popular trend in which clients visit a technician who glues a false lash to your real eyelash. The benefits include immediate and dramatic results and longer lasting effects compared to disposable lashes.

Caution: The glue that bonds the fake lash to your real lash should be taken into consideration. While no glue is ideal to sit on your eye lash, avoid glues with formaldehyde, as this is very toxic to the eye. You can call around to different salons to find out the list of ingredients in their glue to make sure to avoid formaldehyde. As a general rule of thumb, you get what you pay for, so the cheapest salons might use this product.

Other side effects:

Excessive build-up: Since the false lash is glued to your real lash, it creates a small crevice. This area can build up with dead skin cells, make-up, bacteria, pollen, and anything else that your eyelashes catch during the day. To avoid issues, clean your extensions with a product that is safe for your eyelashes, but effective at cleaning them.

Appearance of a droopy eyelid: Adding the weight of glue and false lashes to your existing lashes can create a heavy upper eyelid. Since your eye muscle that lifts the eyelid is not used to this extra weight, it may not have the strength to keep your eyelid open as much as you are used to. This can create the appearance of a droopy upper lid.

A patient wearing false lashes with excessive build up
eyelash serum

Eyelash growth serums:

There are a variety of products out there that will make your eyelashes darker and more plentiful. One of the main ingredient used for these products is a drug called a prostaglandin.

As eye doctors, we actually use this drug every single day in our patients with glaucoma, and patients noticed that their eyelashes got longer and darker as a side effect.

Now, this drug is found in many products. The most common name is bimatoprost.

Caution: The issue with this ingredient is that it can cause side effects such as eyelid color darkening, iris color changes, loss of periorbital fat (giving your eye a sunken in appearance), and increased prevalence of dry eye. Unfortunately, many of these side effects are permanent and cannot be reversed, even if you stop using the product.

eyelashes serum 2

Safe eyelash growth serums:

Luckily, there are some safe options that exist that won't cause the side effects that prostaglandins do.

Ingredients to look for include:

  • Peptides
  • argan oil
  • castor oil
  • hyaluronic acid
  • selenium
  • biotin
  • panthenol
  • vitamin e
  • red clover
  • larch wood
  • clover sprout extract
  • pumpkin seed extract

Dr. Woo’s recommendations:

nuskin lash

Nu Colour is one of my favorite lash and brow growing serums. This formula is plant based, non-toxic, and effective. There are no harmful ingredients, so it is safe for everyone to use, even patients who are pregnant/breastfeeding or patients who are immunocompromised such as cancer patients. This one bottle will last 3 months, so it is also a lot less expensive than some of the products found in dermatologist or plastic surgeon offices.


LashFood is another great product. This one is very inexpensive and affordable – so it is great for people who want to try something that doesn't have harmful chemicals who are on a budget.

BabeLash Serum

Babe Lash is very popular among my patients. I love that some of the main ingredients include panthenol and biotin, which are safe for the eyelashes and the skin surrounding the eyelashes. It is a bit pricier, but many patients have great results.

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