Dr. Swiner’s Medical Note of the Month-Sept. 2010. Eyelash growth serums, all talk?

Eyelash growth serums – all talk?

Published Wednesday, September 1, 2010 7:00 am

by Nicole Price Swiner, Columnist

“Please excuse the mess as we try to expand” was the Facebook status I used a couple of months ago to explain the uncoordinated look of my eyebrows as I’ve let them grow out of their manicured shape. I’ve been plucking, waxing and threading my eyebrows since my freshman year in college to get that certain look, and now that I’m in my 30s, they won’t grow the way I want.

When I asked cosmetologists and spa aestheticians about the issue, there appeared to be no real eyebrow growth product. Instead, I heard or read in magazines about olive oil, massage or Minoxidil (i.e. Rogaine). I really wanted to try Minoxidil, but my husband was worried when he read it was hormonally based. So, I became interested in these new products on the market myself as I became frustrated with the lack of growth. Even with avoiding waxing for weeks, I did some research and this is what I found.

Latisse, which is the first marketed product for eyelash growth, was actually found by mistake. Its main ingredient is called bromatoprost, which was and is the main ingredient in glaucoma eye drops, which had the side effect of making eyelashes grow longer. It’s a prostaglandin, or fatty acid, that helps build muscle and hair. How smart was it that someone discovered a way to isolate this ingredient and make an eyelash growth product.

To review the medical background with patients who may deal with a lack of or slowed hair growth, we have to review the definition of alopecia. Damaged hair follicles or lack of growth of hair on the face can be related to many causes -those medical and those we cause ourselves. My experience had to do with too much waxing and threading, where others may have experienced actual alopecia. Alopecia, in general, is hair loss due to trauma or medical reasons such as cancer, anemia, thyroid or other hormonal issues.

The most common type is alopecia areata, which occurs in 2 percent of the population, and is primarily on the head. It usually returns spontaneously on half of cases within a year. Alopecia universalis is when damaged hair follicles occur all over the body, including the eyebrows and eyelashes, and is generally longer lasting.

The most important thing to do, I think, is to first understand the natural growth cycle of hair on the face before figuring out how the marketed serums will work. Naturally, it takes a full-grown eyelash about six to eight weeks to grown on its own. It takes an eyebrow about four months and hair on the scalp about three to four years. Because I was more interested in re-growing my eyebrows, I wanted something to shorten that length of time.

Unfortunately, there are no eyebrow growth serums, but there are those marketed specifically for eyelashes. Some of these serums can be used on the eyebrows also, understanding of course the longer growth cycle. What I’ve tried recently is use one of the marketed eyelash serums on both my eyebrows and my eyelashes. To avoid liability, I won’t say which one I’m using, but at least for these past couple of weeks I’ve not experienced any side effects like eye irritation, conjunctivitis or skin changes. Do I think my eyebrows have grown longer than they would have without the serum? I’m not sure yet, but maybe. If you’re interested, try one and let me know what you think.

References: Canadian Family Physician, July 2000, p. 1469

  1. Nicole Price Swiner, MD, works for the Durham Family Practice in Durham. Contact her at 220-9800.

Comments

Quick note—October 1st, 2010, Durham Family Practice becomes a private practice, Durham Family Medicine! Call us at 220-9800 to schedule your new patient appointment in October!

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