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Viral Eyelash Growth Serums Causing Unwelcome Eye Changes

Viral Eyelash Growth Serums

Many of us strive for longer, fuller eyelashes, often turning to mascaras, falsies, or lash extensions to get that eye-catching look. But lately, there’s a new player in town: over-the-counter eyelash growth serums. These products promise to enhance your lashes within weeks and are super easy to use—just a few quick swipes with a wand each day. Eyelash growth serums have become a hot topic, with over 1.5 billion views on TikTok searches for ‘the best lash serum.’ The market for these serums is booming, expected to climb from $752 million in 2020 to a whopping $1.3 billion by 2031.

However, it’s not all smooth sailing. While products like Lumigan eye drops are gaining popularity, they come with their own set of risks. Dermatologists are weighing in, and here’s the lowdown on what you need to know about these serums, including some potential eye changes they might cause. Is it time to rethink your lash-enhancing routine? Let’s find out.

Potential Side Effects Depend on What’s In Your Serum

According to Brendan Camp, MD, a dermatologist with dual board certification in dermatology and dermatopathology, eyelash growth serums are typically safe if you follow the directions. However, they’re not without their quirks. He shared with Verywell that while most users sail through without a hitch, a small percentage might notice some discomfort. About 3% to 4% of people using prescription serums like Latisse might see mild side effects such as skin sensitivity or eye irritation.

Dr. Camp explains, “All types of eyelash growth serums could potentially irritate your skin, leading to symptoms like redness, swelling, itching, and even flaky skin.” There’s a particular ingredient to watch out for: prostaglandin analogs (PGAs). Although it’s rare, PGAs can lead to more serious issues. They might cause what’s known as periorbital volume loss—essentially, the thinning of the fat around your eyes, which can give a slightly sunken appearance. This can also result in increased pigmentation, potentially darkening the iris and eyelid skin if the serum gets into your eyes.

What are Prostaglandin Analogs (PGAs)?

Prostaglandin Analogs, or PGAs, originally entered the medical scene as a treatment for glaucoma, a condition that increases pressure within the eyeball. Interestingly, doctors noticed that glaucoma patients using PGAs often saw a bonus effect: enhanced eyelash growth. This led to further research and eventual FDA approval for PGAs as a means to boost eyelash fullness and length.

However, there’s a twist. A study highlighted in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal uncovered that individuals using lash serums with PGAs might develop a condition known as prostaglandin-associated periorbitopathy. This condition brings noticeable changes around the eyes, such as thinner, more wrinkled, and darker skin.

“The true frequency of these side effects is hard to pin down,” notes Sartor, pointing out that the research is quite new and lacks extensive controlled clinical trials to gauge how widespread these issues are.

According to Sartor, the potential side effects vary depending on a person’s pre-serum eye condition. Some people might see more visible blood vessels on their eyelids, drooping of the upper eyelids, or increased visibility of the sclera—the white outer layer of the eyeball.

“These changes can make someone look more tired and increase the appearance of dark circles under the eyes,” Sartor adds, suggesting a need for users to weigh these potential outcomes when choosing their eyelash treatments.”

Can You Undo the Side Effects?

The good news about the side effects linked to prostaglandin-associated periorbitopathy is that they are usually not permanent. If you notice any undesirable changes, such as the ones we’ve discussed, stopping the use of the eyelash serum can often reverse these effects. It’s reassuring to know that these changes don’t have to be a lasting concern if you decide that the serum isn’t right for you.

Which Eyelash Serums Contain PGAs?

If you’re considering an eyelash serum with prostaglandin analogs (PGAs), it’s helpful to know your options. According to Sartor, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) options are available. For prescriptions, products like Lumigan eye drops (bimatoprost) and Xalatan (latanoprost) are initially designed as eye drops for glaucoma but are also recognized for their lash-enhancing properties. On the OTC front, popular choices include:

  • UKLASH Eyelash Serum
  • Rodan and Fields R+F Lash Boost
  • GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum
  • Babe Lash Essential Serum
  • Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner
  • NeuLASH Lash Enhancing Serum
  • RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum

These products typically contain ingredients like isopropyl cloprostenate or dechloro-dihydroxy-difluoro-ethylcloprostenolamide, which are types of PGAs. Always check the ingredient list to be sure.

However, opting for eyelash serums without PGAs doesn’t mean you’re entirely risk-free. These serums might include preservatives, fragrances, silicone, wax, and oils, which can also cause eye irritation or sensitivity. Dr. Camp points out, “Serums without PGAs avoid certain risks like hyperpigmentation or fat atrophy, but using any skin care product comes with the possibility of irritant or allergic reactions.”

Should You Stop Using Eyelash Growth Serums? 

Dr. Camp emphasizes that individuals should be well-informed about the potential benefits and risks of using eyelash growth serums, especially those with PGAs. He also mentions that certain individuals, such as those undergoing chemotherapy and experiencing altered hair growth, may find lash serums particularly beneficial.

Dr. Sartor adds that while eyelash serums are generally considered safe, whether you should stop using them depends on your unique risk factors. These factors include your natural eye color (lighter eyes are more prone to darkening), any skin sensitivities or conditions you have, and the specific anatomy of your eye.

“When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to consult with a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or ophthalmologist/oculoplastics,” Dr. Sartor advises. They can provide personalized guidance based on your individual situation and help you make the best decision for your eye health and overall well-being.

Other Ways to Grow Your Eyelashes

If using serums isn’t quite your thing, don’t worry—Drs. Sartor and Camp have shared several other effective methods to boost the growth and health of your eyelashes:

  • Try PGA-Free Serums: If you’re wary of prostaglandin analogs, consider PGA-free options like Lash Luxury, The Forever Lash, LASHFOOD Serum, Velour Lash Serum, and Ordinary Lash Serum. These can offer benefits without the associated risks of PGAs.
  • Handle With Care: Treat your eyelashes gently. Avoid rough handling, such as vigorous rubbing or pulling, which can weaken lashes over time.
  • Choose Easy-to-Remove Eye Makeup: Opt for eye makeup that’s easy to take off at the end of the day. Non-waterproof eyeliners & mascaras are less harsh than waterproof versions, making them a safer choice for your lashes.
  • Use a Gentle Makeup Remover: Always remove your makeup with a mild remover. This minimizes the risk of irritation and helps keep your eyelashes in good condition.
  • Consider Supplements: Oral supplements like Viviscal and Nutrafol, designed for hair and nail health, can also support eyelash growth. These supplements provide essential nutrients that help strengthen and enhance your lashes.
  • Go Natural: Natural remedies can be surprisingly effective. For example, applying a green tea compress can help. The antioxidants in green tea protect against oxidative stress, which can negatively impact hair growth.

You can still use medications like Lumigan eye drops and Xalatan for fuller lashes but under proper guidance of your doctor and it’s also important to buy them from authentic sources. The best Canadian online pharmacy offers this service.


While eyelash serums offer an appealing solution for enhancing eyelash growth and appearance, it’s important to choose wisely and be aware of potential risks. Serums containing prostaglandin analogs (PGAs), like Lumigan eye drops and Xalatan, can lead to changes such as the shrinking of periorbital fat, resulting in altered eye and eyelid appearance. Fortunately, these effects are generally reversible once the use of the serum is discontinued. 

For those seeking alternatives, PGA-free serums and natural remedies provide safer options without these risks. Additionally, maintaining gentle care of your eyelashes and choosing the right makeup removal products can contribute significantly to the health and beauty of your lashes. Whether you opt for serums or more natural approaches, consulting healthcare professionals like dermatologists or ophthalmologists can guide you to make informed and safe choices for your eyelash care. 

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