On and off for nearly the last decade, I’ve been a lash serum user; I’ve tried 7 to be exact. I personally struggle with hypothyroidism and because of this, my hair – including my eyebrows and eyelashes – is much thinner than when I was younger. Upon my diagnosis, I began looking into options to boost lash growth as my eyelashes became much shorter and sparse.
When I first began using lash serums, there weren’t many over the counter options available. One of the most popular lash serums at the time was Latisse which required a prescription. Eventually, Rodan + Fields launched their over the counter Lash Boost Serum, and upon seeing people who had phenomenal results, I emphatically entered my credit card information and secured my first tube.
Upon the first use, I woke up the next morning to an absolute horror; my eyes were very bloodshot and my eyelids were swollen and purple. Being the stubborn woman I am though, I ignored the red flags and I continued using the serum. While my lashes did end up looking incredible after several weeks of use, my eyelids remained a sickly shade of reddish-purple along my upper lash line.
For the next several years, I dabbled with a wide variety of lash serums – most of which worked very well without the side effect of irritation – but almost all of them left me with the same problem; either the brush was thick (like a nail polish brush) and applied too much product, or the formula was too runny and would often feel like it was dripping into my eyes. This meant that it was critical to carefully wipe the excess off to prevent the formula from going into my eyes. Despite my cautious application, I always had the nagging suspicion that lash serums may have negative side effects I was unaware of.
Most lash serums contain the prostaglandin analog -a.k.a. synthetic hormone – isopropyl cloprostenate which is responsible for the lengthening effects most lash serums give. The lengthening abilities of prostaglandins was discovered when glaucoma patients reported lash growth as a side effect of their medicated eye drops which contained bimatoprost (a prostaglandin naturally found in the body and the active ingredient used in Latisse). A noted side effect of bimatoprost specifically is that it can change eye color, most notably light eyes turning brown. Side effects of isopropyl cloprostenate on the other hand can include eye redness and inflammation/irritation, as well as macular edema where the blood vessels in your eyes swell and can cause blurry vision. Bimatoprost is FDA approved whereas ispropyl cloprostenate is not.
Fast forward many years, and during a conversation with a family member she told me she had developed meibomian gland dysfunction after using lash serums and having lash extensions. Meibomian gland dysfunction is essentially an incurable form of dry eye, and once developed you cannot use products like retinoids and certain types of eye makeup. As a beauty creator and daily lash serum user, this news terrified me.
Because this revelation came from someone I actually know, I began looking into safer lash serum options, and more specifically ones created by physicians.
My first step in this journey led me to Dr. Nicky Shah M.D., opthalmologist and creator of You & Eye Cosmetics. I first heard her speak on the Fat Mascara podcast (Ep. 403: All About Eyes with Dr. Nicky Shah), and it was the second time I heard anyone utter the words ‘meibomian gland dysfunction’. I was all ears. She graciously sent me her lash serum (which has now been approved by SightMD) Lids, Love & Lash Enhancing Serum. The formula contains EyeMEDIx Technology, Omega 9 oil, and Vitamin E – no prostaglandins – all of which promise to be safe, relieve redness and discomfort, and reduce clogged lash line pores. After several weeks of use, my lashes looked really healthy and a bit fuller, but I was not getting the same length my other lash serums gave me. I do think this is an excellent formula if you are looking to improve your lash condition and preserve the integrity of your eye health, too.
Missing the length I had grown accustomed to seeing, I began searching for other physician-created lash serums.
Eventually I came across RevitaLash which was created by Dr. Michael Brinkenhoff M.D., opthalmologist. He created RevitaLash during his wife’s journey with breast cancer because he wanted her to feel beautiful. The first thing I will note about this serum is that it has an added thickening agent which means it stays exactly where you swipe it along your lash line. The second thing worth noting is the brush is incredibly thin which further reduces the risk of over applying and the formula running into your eyes. This formula doesn’t contain bimatoprost or isopropyl cloprostenate, but it does have Dechloro Dihydroxy Difluoro Ethylcloprostenolamide which is considered a prostaglandin analogue. Unfortunately, there is very little material available about this particular ingredient, BUT I have had zero eye irritation or purple darkening of my eyelid which leads me to believe this is a better option than most lash serums I’ve tried. Additionally, it doesn’t run into my eyes the way a lot of others have, and it dries quickly. My eyelashes look incredible, and because this formula was also created by an opthalmologist, I am comfortable using it.
Per the RevitaLash website (under FAQ) they have this information listed:
“It’s also important to note that a study conducted by an independent ophthalmologist affiliated with UCLA’s School of Medicine used fluorescent dye to photograph RevitaLash® Advanced after it was applied normally and confirmed that the product does not get into the eye fluid. This is important for two reasons. First, it means use of RevitaLash® Advanced is safe to eyes (since it does not come in contact with eyes). Second, it means RevitaLash® Advanced cannot get into the blood stream, because the primary entry is through absorption by the surface of the eye. In addition, two independent experts based in the UK, one a highly reputable ophthalmologist and the other a pharmacokinetics expert, have reviewed the safety tests of RevitaLash® Advanced and concluded that no appreciable amount of RevitaLash® Advanced is absorbed by the body.”
As a final note, I will add that after several weeks of using RevitaLash, at my optometrist appointment I had a retinal scan and she said everything looks normal and healthy. Cue the hallelujah chorus.
If using a lash serum is on your radar, it’s worth noting not all formulas are created equally and some can come with nasty side effects. I am really glad to have found one that gives me incredible results and peace of mind regarding my eye health!