Late last year rumours began swirling that Claire Danes, the latest spokesperson for the eyelash enhancing serum Latisse, was experiencing unpleasant – and unflattering – side effects. The SAG award-winning actress has since denied that Latisse caused purple and yellow discolouration on her eyelids, but she has admitted that she experienced redness around her eyes during the first week of use.
Latisse is a drug approved by Health Canada to treat sparse, fair or inadequate lashes. It promises fuller, darker, and longer lashes in 16 weeks. You need a prescription from a doctor or dermatologist to buy it and it costs about $150 per month. To use it, you apply the clear serum to the skin just above the lashes on your top lid every night before bed. Typically, people notice an improvement after a few weeks.
So does it actually work? Lisa Wilcott is a fair-haired, light skinned 30-year-old woman living in Toronto who used Latisse for months. “I wanted to try it because my eyelashes and eyebrows are so fair they’re practically see through,” she says. “The pay off was amazing. Within three weeks I had darker, longer, fuller lashes. People started asking me if I was wearing fake lashes.” Wilcott says that Latisse isn’t a replacement for mascara though. You still need to wear it, but thicker lashes make for a more dramatic effect when you add a swipe of your favourite brand.
Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based dermatologist and spokesperson for Latisse isn’t surprised by the success Wilcott experienced. “The product works incredibly well. It increases lash thickness by 106%,” she says. (In case you’re wondering, Dr. Kellett uses it herself.)
But despite how well Latisse seems to work, growing concern over side effects is garnering more attention. The makers do state that the serum can cause itchy eyes, eye redness and skin discolourations on the eyelid. Plus, anywhere you repeatedly apply Latisse can see increased hair growth. Dr. Kellett says the reaction rate is really low and she has not seen a patient experience a serious side effect, like permanent discolouration.
Perhaps the most alarming side effect is the potential for increased brown pigmentation in the coloured part of the eyes. Dr. Kellett says this has not been reported with Latisse or seen in the product’s clinical trials. It was, however, a reported side effect of a drug with the same active ingredient that is used to treat glaucoma.
Wilcott did have some trouble during the first few weeks she used Latisse. “In the mornings my eyes felt more sensitive and almost itchy. I wanted to rub them when I washed my face,” she says. A friend of hers who also tried the serum had bloodshot-looking eyes for a few weeks. Neither of them experienced any discolouration of their blue eyes or unwanted hair growth.
The biggest disappointment with Latisse is that it stops working if you don’t use it every day, says Wilcott. She made her three-month supply last for five months and now she’s in long-lash withdrawl. “My lashes are shrinking up and I’m not getting the same results with my mascara,” she says. Even though she had a great experience with Latisse the expensive price tag is keeping her from sticking with it. Instead, she’s going to try another lash boosting serum while she continues to hunt for the perfect mascara for her transparent lashes.