I'm a bit of a lash addict.
I've tried lash extensions, natural lash conditioning treatments, false eye lashes and just about every drugstore and too-expensive-to-admit-I-bought-it mascara out there.
So when all the fuss over Latisse wouldn't quiet down, I knew I had to play guinea pig once more. I accepted an offer from the company to try a complimentary bottle of the lash grower.
Originally a drug to treat glaucoma, Latisse's main ingredient, bimatoprost, was accidentally found to grow thicker and longer lashes as a (surprisingly pleasant) side effect in glaucoma patients. Beauty giant Allergan -- the pharmaceutical company behind Botox -- instantly saw a potential goldmine, and created the first FDA-approved lash growth drug. It costs a pretty-penny -- $120 for a 30-day supply that's not covered by insurance -- and requires a prescription from a doctor. Most women ask their opthalmologist or dermatologist.
I have to admit something off the bat here. I didn't exactly use it the way it's prescribed. The liquid comes in a dropper that you're supposed to apply to a disposable brush, and then glide the tip over your lash line, as you would eyeliner, once every night. The instructions specify to use one drop per eye, and to toss the brush after you use it, as each bottle of Latisse comes with 30 little brushes (one for each night).
The first night I tried Latisse, I dutifully applied a drop to one of these brushes and it almost completely absorbed the first drop. It took a fat second drop to coat the brush in enough product to be able to start lining my lash lines.
Questions popped into my penny-pinching head. Would two drops per eye mean one bottle of Latisse would only last me 15 days, versus one month? And now I was supposed to throw this little brush away? It seemed so wasteful.
(No, the truth is, I'm just really cheap.)
So I rang one of my equally lash-obsessed makeup artist friends in Los Angeles for advice, who -- not surprisingly -- was already using Latisse, and turned out to be feeling as frugal as me.
"Too much product goes to waste with those brushes. I use a skinny eyeliner brush with it, and just disinfect it afterward," she told me.
Now there's an idea.
So using an ultra fine eyeliner brush every night, I carefully applied a full coating of product to both lash lines with just one drop of liquid. Seven weeks later, my bottle is still going strong - and those little brushes are coming in handy as ideal smudge erasers when dipped in eye makeup remover.
As it turns out, my girlfriend and I aren't the only ones looking for cheaper solutions; StyleList recently wrote about women who are using generic glaucoma drugs off-label as a less expensive alternative to Latisse. But remember, if you use Latisse in any way other than the prescribed method, you could be exposing yourself to increased side effects and risks -- of which there are a few serious issues to consider.
In clinical tests, 4% of users reported eye itchiness and/or redness. A rare side effect is increased brown pigmentation of blue and green eyes, which is likely to be permanent. Some users have also noticed hyper-pigmentation on the eye lid, which is temporary. And, on consumer review sites like Makeup Alley, some have complained about lashes growing where they shouldn't, like in the inner corner of the eye.
With my disclaimer out of the way, let's talk results.
I'm beyond impressed. Seven weeks into the suggested 12-16 week treatment period, my lashes have already taken flight; they flutter like butterfly wings.
I've noticed a palpable difference in the thickness and density of my lashes too. One coat of my favorite Dior Diorshow Mascara in the morning, and my lashes make me feel like a sexy, flirty Betty Boop all day.
Length-wise, my results rival that of my lash extension days - which were delicate, difficult and expensive to maintain with touch-ups needed every three weeks. (Really, what was I thinking?)
My outer lashes have grown lusher than my inner lashes, as I tend to concentrate the product on the mid to outer corners where I have more control over the liquid. If you go too far in, the drop slides more easily into the eye - which can mean a greater chance of side effects.
The final verdict?
While my results are addictively lush and long, I can't imagine going through the fuss of refilling an expensive prescription every month (or, ahem - every other month) to maintain the regime. Natural lash conditioning alternatives like Rapid Lash don't quite match the results of Latisse in my experience, but they're priced at a fraction of the cost, require no prescription and do increase lash growth quite nicely.
So if you want longer lashes without breaking the bank or using a prescription drug, go with a natural alternative like Rapid Lash.
But if you're a vixen in search of a serious lash fix, Latisse will help you get it on like no other.
Grace Gold is a beauty writer and the author of the eBook The Boob Job Bible: 10 Steps To A Sexy, Safe Breast Augmentation.