Lash serums are a category of beauty product that has gone from nowhere to a definite trend in just a few years. Anecdotal feedback on what are essentially lash conditioners ranges from their being amazing to a waste of time and money. Most contain peptides said to stimulate lusher, longer lash growth in as little as two weeks.
Prices vary widely, despite some, including those we feature today, having remarkably similar ingredient lists, albeit with different peptides or complexes thereof.
If you are interested in trying a lash conditioner, do seek personal recommendations and avoid buying anything unfamiliar off the internet. Be particularly cautious about products that either are very cheap or comparatively expensive and of uncertain origin. Be sceptical of those vague about their ingredients but boastful of their success.
That said, most lash products should not do any major damage. They do contain preservatives, parabens in some cases, so may cause minor skin irritations in some people, and sometimes too many lashes sprout at odd angles, but the widespread scare stories about eyelid and eye discolouration seem to track back to the one product that has actually gone through the regulatory hoops for sale as something more than a cosmetic.
That is Latisse, which is often prescribed to cancer patients, and is alone in having gained rigorous American FDA approval.
Eyelid discolouration in a few people with fair skin has been reported from cosmetic lash conditioners, but is not common.
It may sound like shirking my duty as a beauty editor, but I don't have any particular interest in testing these sorts of products, although I've swotted up on them and will let you know if my volunteer testers rave about or regret any in particular. More likely is that initial enthusiasm will be followed by a waning of interest as women get sick of the daily application and its cost.
Here's three new lash enhancers, all American-made and paraben-free.
Loaded Lashes by Jo Hilton 9ml $75
This product happily identifies itself upfront as a peptide serum. The tube contains the most product of all three featured, but is said to last just two months. New Zealand-born sometime resident Jo Hilton, who is aunt-in-law to Paris Hilton, is supporting the cancer charity Look Good Feel Better by donating Loaded Lashes to workshops for women who have more reason than most to find it useful. (From selected Farmers and www.mybeautystore.com.)
UberLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum 5ml $189
This product was formulated in France, made in the States, but really took off in Britain just over a year ago. It is sold across Europe and has recently come Downunder. The company says it will last four months and that it will not only lengthen but strengthen lashes, thanks to marine collagen and plant extracts. It also contains moisturising panthenol. (Selected department stores, pharmacies and beauty salons, ph 0800 144 562.)
Flash Amplifying Lash Serum 3ml $69
This is the lowest-priced product, although not per volume, but the box is undeniably cheap and cheerful and, being bilingual, it's ready for sale in South America where the Voluminosas y Fabulosas message is also spreading. Uses a different peptide than the other two, but contains panthenol and collagen and the same phenoxyethanol preservative as the rest. The tube is said to last three months, although it claims results will last for six months, which, given that the lash life cycle is only around six weeks, I find hard to fathom. (Selected pharmacies and www.mybeautystore.com.)
Talika Eyebrow Lipocils Eyebrow Enhancer $68
Brow serums are less common than lash ones, with women often trying the lash one up top. This French one says its odourless plant-extract gel helps stimulate hair growth. (Mecca.)
Revita-Brow is another specialty product, from the makers of Revita-Lash.