The easiest way to camouflage this hair loss is with makeup. The products are simple to use, affordable, and easy to find. But while there's no doubt that makeup works well, there are other products available. And when they're used in combination with cosmetics, they make brows and lashes look amazing!
One of those products is Latisse. The other is lash extensions. Both work beautifully to improve the look of thinning lashes AND brows.
Let's talk about thinning lashes first.
The experts say that one cause of thinning lashes is aging. When we hit our thirties, our eyelashes start to lose fullness, darkness and length. And this loss continues as we age. The older we get, the less noticeable our lashes become. (But we gain wisdom, right?!!)
When their lashes start to thin, some women turn to eyelash extensions.
They look BEAUTIFUL . . . But Lash Extensions Have 4 Drawbacks:
1. Lash extensions are expensive. The Spa at 322 Oak in Fort Collins lists a full set of lashes from $225 - $275. The service takes about 2 hours and the price is dependent on the number of lashes applied.
2. Lash extensions need to be filled often. Over time your natural lashes fall out with the extensions attached. To keep the look, you need a fill. The price of a fill at Advanced Aesthetics ranges from $50 - 80 and takes anywhere from 45 - 90 minutes. The more time it takes, the higher the cost. Lash expert Courtney Akai gives all the details about refills in an article for the Huffington Post:
"Lash extensions last through a full growth cycle of natural eyelashes, typically six to eight weeks. That said, because each person’s lash growth is somewhat variable (just hair growth), I suggest light lash maintenance every three to four weeks to maintain a full look."
3. Lash extensions can be risky. You see, lash extensions are single fibers glued, one by one, to your natural eyelash. Usually, they're held in place with formaldehyde-based adhesives or biologic glues - both of which can cause allergic reactions. And the solvents used to remove them can too.
4. Women are finding that lash extensions can cause lash loss that leaves their eyelashes very thin. In many of these cases the women feel they have no choice but to continue to use extensions. It creates an ugly cycle. This has happened so often that The College of Optometrists in England has warned against repeated use of lash extensions. Traction alopecia, where the lash falls out from excessive tension on the hair shaft, can damage the hair follicle. It leads to slowed - or even stopped - eyelash production.
There are ways to cut the cost and health risks of lash extensions.
The cost of lash extensions is a little high for me right now. What are my options? Courtney Akai has some good ideas:
"A half set of lashes are an economical alternative to achieve a similarly dramatic effect, applied as filler to thicken natural lashes, or applied outward from the eye for a specialized look."
I don't want to hurt my eyes - or lose more lashes. Is there anything I can do to minimize my risk? The Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions says that, "properly applied eyelash extensions are not dangerous." That means finding the right lash technician.
Research the technician you're considering:
- Look for an eyelash technician who is lash-certified and licensed.
- Ask to see pictures of his / her work. Well done lash extensions look like a single hair per lash.
- Find out how long he / she has been working as a lash technician.
- Look at before-and-after photos of the technician's work.
- Read reviews.
- The glue the technician uses should not contain formaldehyde. Hypoallergenic adhesives are a good alternative. Ask to see the ingredient list on the adhesive used and look for potential allergens.
- Make sure your lash technician washes her hands and wears gloves.
- If you do get signs of an eye infection, see an ophthalmologist as soon as possible.
Many lash technicians recommend Latisse.
They recommend it for women who are getting lash extensions AND for those who decide to stop getting lash extensions. When lash extensions are removed, lashes are more prone to falling out. People who start using Latisse before, find their fallout rate is much lower.
Latisse is a prescription drug originally developed as a glaucoma treatment that had the side effect of making eyelashes fuller, darker and longer. It's manufactured by Allergan and is exactly the same as the Allergan product Lumigan.
Latisse was approved by the FDA in 2008 to grow eyelashes. It's so effective that many lash technicians recommend it to their eyelash extension clients. With new lash growth, there are more hairs available to attach to extensions, allowing a fuller effect.
How much does a bottle of Latisse cost?
RealSelf lists the average price of Latisse as $125.
How long does the bottle last?
"Some of my patients are able to stretch out a "one month" supply to three months by using a very small, fine eyeliner brush instead of the applicators provided in the package. This, of course, could lead to contamination issues and I always tell patients that if they choose to do this, make sure they do not share their brush and clean it with very hot water prior to every use." - Dr. Lisa Lynn Sowder, Seattle Plastic Surgeon
Do people like it?
Latisse gets a 61% "Worth It" rating on RealSelf based on 18 reviews over the past 2 years. It gets an 81% "Worth It" rating based on 429 ratings over all time.
How does Latisse work?
Eyelash growth is cyclical. The normal eyelash growth cycle has 4 phases and takes place over several months. Latisse is believed to extend the active growth phase. To learn more about the hair growth cycle, read our post, 9 Things That Cause Hair Loss. According to the Latisse.com website, studies have shown that:
- 78% of the people using Latisse had a significant increase in overall eyelash fullness, length and darkness.
- Lashes grew 106% fuller, 25% longer and 18% darker.
How do you use Latisse?
Using Latisse requires patience. Longer lashes can be seen after 4 weeks, but Latisse must be used every day for 16 weeks to get the best result. If you wear contact lenses, you should remove them for 15 minutes both before and after using Latisse.
Dermatologist Dr. Brandith Irwin of SkinTour.com gives these instructions for using Latisse. They're the best I've found:
"I instruct my patients to drop 1 drop of Latisse directly onto a very tiny eyeliner brush or into the cap of the bottle. If you use the cap method, dip the brush into the cap. Apply to the top of your lashes like you would eyeliner – it should feel just slightly wet. If there is any dripping, you are putting too much on the brush. If the brush feels dry, re-dip it into the cap. Normally 1 drop is enough to cover both eyes. I also suggest you use any leftover product on your eyebrows, if they could use some thickening. Make sure you only put Latisse on the upper lash (NOT your lower lashes), and wipe off any excess product.
Unless you have an eye infection or irritation, you can also use 1 brush for both eyes. Just be sure to clean the brush well between uses and let it dry for sanitation purposes. Replace the brush immediately if you have a problem with your eyes or the eyelid skin and call your doctor. Also, it’s a good idea to replace the brush about every 3-6 months."
Don't miss any applications.
"Being that Latisse works when the eyelashes are in the growth cycle, it's imperative that one tries to not skip any applications so as to not miss the window of opportunity." - Dr. Harold J. Kaplan, Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
Only 1 drop is needed each night. So if you miss an application, do not apply double the next night. People who use more than the recommended dose get eye irritation. And doubling the drops won't make your Latisse work any faster.
Latisse isn't safe for everyone.
In general, as long as you have healthy eyes (i.e., no glaucoma or infections), it's safe to use. If you develop irritation of your eye or eyelid, you should stop using Latisse and call your doctor.
*If you're not sure about how healthy your eyes are, make an appointment with your eye doctor to see if you are a good candidate for Latisse.
Your doctor will check for:
- any active eye infection
- broken or irritated skin on the eyelid
- a history of lash or brow hair loss
- shingles / zoster around the eyes
- any history of prior discoloration of the eyelids
Latisse should not be used in people who:
- are at risk for macular edema
- women who are pregnant or nursing
- are allergic to any ingredient in Latisse
- Latisse should be used with caution in patients with intraocular inflammation.
Latisse doesn't work for everyone.
"Latisse does not help everyone. By 16 weeks, 80 % will be pleased with the money they spent. 20 % won't. I tell my patients that someone has to be in the "80 % group" and someone has to be in the "20 % group."
- Dr. Jeff Donovan, Canadian & U.S. board certified dermatologist, specialist in hair loss
Are there any side effects?
Latisse may cause permanent eyelid darkening. The most common side effects are itchy, red eyes, skin darkening, and dry eyes. These occurred in less than 4% of patients.
Will Latisse change the color of my eyes?
Latisse was developed from a prescription drug to treat Glaucoma called Lumigan. Lumigan is a drop meant to be placed directly into the eye every day.
In the Lumigan clinical trials, 1% of patients had a darkening of the eye. It only happened in patients with hazel or light brown eyes.
This is the big difference. Latisse is not put into the eye, so there is an extremely low chance of permanent darkening of eye color. But because it's a possibility, eye color change is listed in the FDA warnings. There have been no reported cases of eye color change with Latisse.
Following Are 8 Ways to Get Great Lashes:
- Brush your lashes daily. Brushing helps to stimulate growth of the hair follicle. It also helps to remove dead hairs, allowing for faster regrowth in the same follicle. The best time to brush your lashes is after showering or bathing, when your hair is still damp and can easily be separated without pulling out strands.
- Eat protein. A balanced diet with plenty of protein is best for hair growth. Your body needs protein to make new hair cells. People who don't get enough protein (in fish, beans, yogurt, etc.) experience hair loss.
- Take a multivitamin. There are specific vitamins and minerals that have been linked to healthy hair growth. They include biotin, Vitamins A, B5, B6, B12 and C. They promote circulation and ensure delivery of the nutrients, oxygen and water necessary for healthy hair cell formation and growth. Vitamin C also neutralizes free radicals that can damage hair and skin cells.
- Remove makeup correctly. Don't sleep with your makeup on. Instead, gently remove it with a mild makeup remover. When you sleep in mascara, it dries making the eyelash hair shaft brittle and prone to breaking. Rubbing makes it worse, causing lash breakage and lash loss.
- Wash your eye area twice a day. Keeping the eye area clean helps clear dirt that may be blocking hair follicles and preventing new lash growth.
- Massage your eyelids. Gentle massage helps increase blood flow and boosts the delivery of nutrients, oxygen and moisture. Do this after washing your face - when both your hands and eyelids are clean (to reduce your risk of infection).
- Apply liquid mascara. Even recently purchased mascara can dry out. It's best for your lashes to apply mascara when it's a liquid form (not dried and clumpy). If you put the tube in a cup of hot water and let it sit, the mascara should thin and be easier to apply.
- Soak false lashes before you remove them. Forcefully removing false lashes will pull out your natural ones. There's a better way. Soak a cotton ball in makeup remover and apply it to your eyelid for a few seconds. It loosens the glue and allows you to gently remove your false lashes.
Now Let's Talk About Thinning Brows.
Diagnois is important. If your brows are thinning, it's important to figure out why you're losing hair in the first place. A dermatologist can help you. The most common causes of thin or sparse brows are hormonal / thyroid issues and over-plucking. A thyroid disorder usually affects the outside 1/3 of the eyebrow.
Your doctor will rule out underlying systemic causes by doing a thorough examination and blood tests. If the test results are normal, options to speed up hair regrowth include topical minoxidil / Rogaine or Latisse. It may take several months of application to see a change.
Latisse can cause some brown pigmentation. If you have dark eyebrows, this hyperpigmentation can help make your brows look
Latisse for Brows
Latisse can grow hair wherever it is placed, including the eyebrows. Although the FDA has approved Latisse only for use on top lashes, some dermatologists have cautiously prescribed it for hair and eyebrow loss that has resisted other treatments. It has been shown to help grow hair on the lower lids as well as the eyebrows. Where patients apply Latisse, especially in areas where hair is thinner and lighter, the hair grows thicker, stronger and healthier.
But Latisse does have limitations. It seems to work the same way as Rogaine. They both strengthen and darken hair that grows from a dying follicle, but neither can bring a dead follicle back to life. The result is an enhanced, fortified brow, NOT a new brow.
Another option for thinning brows is Rogaine.
Rogaine is designed to prevent hair loss, so it works better for people with hair that they are trying to keep, instead of those with little to no hair.
The 5% Minoxidil version, applied with a Q-tip works best to help regrow brows. Unlike Latisse, you have to use it twice a day, and it could take six months before you see results.
If your missing eyebrow hair is from shaving or frequent trimming, often it won't come back. There have been some reports that Latisse or minoxidil can stimulate this hair growth. The problem with these medications is that you have to keep using them regularly.
If Rogaine and Latisse don't work, the only other option to regrow hair is an eyebrow transplant. A transplant may seem like a big procedure, but it's permanent and nowhere near as bad as it sounds. Transplants are usually done in your doctor's office.
You might also consider microblading your brows. Individual hairs are tattooed on and the results are beautiful! Read more in our post, Microblading Eyebrows - How to Find the Best Brow Artist.
Latisse has become such a popular product that, on average, 1 kit is sold every 30 seconds. Learn more about Latisse in our post, Latisse Lengthens Lashes!
Amy Takken, RN
Amy Takken is a registered nurse with 20+ years of experience helping people improve their health. Her in-depth skincare articles have been featured on Nazarian Plastic Surgery and The Palm Beach Center for Facial Plastic & Laser Surgery. She's also been quoted on Dermascope.com.
Masterpiece Skin Restoration is your online resource for all things medical aesthetics, skincare, beauty, and wellness. We keep you up to date on leading edge technology and the services available to help you restore your natural beauty.
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The Information provided on our website is not medical advice and should not be viewed as such. By law, only a medical doctor can diagnose or give medical advice. As a registered nurse, my goal is to educate, so I provide information on skin care, skin care products, and skin care treatments. If you have any condition that concerns you, please see a medical doctor. While most skin conditions are benign, some - like melanoma - can be deadly. If there is any doubt, please, please consult your physician. Thank you!