Latisse and Long, Beautiful Lashes - Image Anti-Aging
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Latisse and Long, Beautiful Lashes

Anyone who knows me knows how inherently lazy I am when it comes to self-care. Makeup and hair straighteners rarely make it into my daily regimen and I’m sure most of my lovely hair stylist patients cringe when I enter the room with my braid as an excuse for grooming. Sooooo, needless to say, I have had a love-hate relationship with eyelash extensions. On one hand, I love being able to get out of bed and roll to the gym without washing my face and still look like I’ve made an effort. (Yup, I admit it, I totally do that). On the other hand, I found it incredibly difficult to justify spending my day off going to get a fill. Let face it, by the time you get ready, get in your car, park, get your fill, pay and go home it’s half your day. It’s hard to do anything else. Then there’s that stage where your lashes look amazing followed by that in-between scraggly time when you are embarrassed to go out in public. That’s Why I LOVE Latisse.

Latisse is the trade name for a medication called Bimatoprost. This is a prescription eye drop used to treat an eye disease called glaucoma. In the past, patients prescribed this drug started noticing that their eyelashes started to grow. Somewhere along the line, some very smart person saw an opportunity to take advantage of this side effect of the medication and turn it into something really awesome – a topical solution that makes eyelashes grow longer, thicker and darker! Tadaaaa…. Latisse. (There are actually lots of cool stories like that in medicine but let’s not get too off track, LOL)

How Latisse works is not entirely understood, but it somehow affects the growth cycle of hair. Hair has different stages of growth including resting and active stages, so by forcing the hair into an active stage of growth, Latisse makes lashes grow longer, thicker and darker.

Latisse is applied to the upper lash line at bedtime using a fine brush included in the packaging. This is repeated nightly and after about six weeks you will start to enjoy your no-fuss, beautiful, long lashes! Of course, everyone experiences a differing degree of success but in general, we have found our patients are thrilled. Once lashes have responded well to the Latisse, patients are often able to use their solution several times per week rather than nightly.

So, what’s the downside of being able to have long gorgeous lashes without having to leave your house? Well, some patients do experience some transient irritation of the skin at the application site and for some that irritation persists and they can’t use the product. Some people can get darker pigmentation on the eyelid, but this is not permanent and resolves if the product is discontinued. The most inquired about side effect is a change in eye colour. Latisse deepens the colour of the lashes by increasing the pigment called melanin. If the product is absorbed into the melanin in the coloured part of the eye, known as the iris, darkening of the eye colour could happen. This is definitely observed in patients with glaucoma who use the medical eyedrops directly in the eye, not along the lash line as recommended with Latisse. However, because it is the same product, the company that produces it needs to let patients know this is a potential risk. I’m not saying it couldn’t happen and I’ve never heard or read about it, but the chances are very slim if you use it properly. That being said, people with blue eyes have no melanin in their irises so they are not at risk and those with brown eyes have lots of pigment already, so they aren’t going to be a big risk either. It is those with hazel eyes who are theoretically at most risk for the rare side effect of pigment change. I have hazel eyes and I have not had any problem. (My mom who also has hazel eyes has glaucoma and has used the eyedrop prescription bimatoprost in the past. She now sports some Twilight worthy charcoal grey eyes; just an interesting aside to keep you engaged. Sorry Mom)

How about other lash growth products? Well, the bottom line is that no other product has Health Canada approval and you can never know what you truly getting in another product and if it is safe, effective, or legal. Do you really want to take that risk? I will stick with Latisse. I’m not messing around with my eyes.

It’s a strange time we now live in and this pandemic will probably change the way we interact for a very long time to come. We will likely make some poor choices about boxed hair dyes and home pedicures, but, feel comfortable adding Latisse to your self-care regimen. Likely, it will remain a staple in your beauty arsenal long after social distancing ends.