What's Really In Your Eyelash Growth Serum?

Experts weigh in on whether peptides, biotin, and castor oil can ~really~ give you the doe-eyed lashes of your dreams. Plus, buy from our picks of the best eyelash serums.

long eyelashes
Photo: HQuality Video/Getty Images

For anyone without enough patience or, frankly, cash for standing lash extension appointments, there are eager eyelash growth serums waiting in the wings to give your lashes the same effect. These lash serums often promise the perfect set of full, long lashes in a couple of months with regular, consistent use. But are they too good to be true? The answer is, at least some of the time, yes.

Here, pros weigh in on how eyelash growth serums claim to work and what results you can realistically expect to see.

How do eyelash growth serums claim to work?

Most eyelash serums create fullness and strengthen your lashes through a mix of topical vitamins and oils. Essentially they are making your lashes healthier, which makes them more resistant to breakage or thinning. And even though your lashes may appear to grow, it's more of a strengthening what's already there rather than actually growing new lashes.

"Most of the eyelash serums on the market condition the lashes," says Kelly Dobos, a cosmetic chemist in Cincinnati, Ohio and president of the U.S. Society of Cosmetic Chemists. "Much like conditioner for the hair, this reduces breakage and allows lashes to grow longer." (While Latisse is a prescription-only eyelash product that is used to boost lash growth, experts suggest trying over-the-beauty-counter options first.)

Most eyelash serums suggest applying twice a day for best results after roughly two months.

What's actually in your eyelash serum?

While there is some consistency among lash growth serum ingredients, many of the products have a laundry list of difficult to pronounce ingredients—or have proprietary formulas that are difficult to decipher. Do your homework by looking at ingredient labels or even contacting the makers themselves, suggests Umbreen Sheikh, founder of Wink Brow Bar in New York.

Lash Conditioning Ingredients

Many eyelash serums include biotin, otherwise known as vitamin B7. While there's no data that biotin actually helps your lashes grow thicker, when applied topically, it can help create the appearance of fullness, says Dobbs. Same goes for arginine, an amino acid commonly found on ingredient lists. Again, these "moisturizing or conditioning serums won't grow lashes, but may strengthen and condition the hairs," adds Dobbs. Castor oil is another ingredient you've likely heard of that can have conditioning benefits. (

Another ingredient to look for is panthenol, a vitamin B5 derivative which helps strengthen hair. "When it's applied to hair, it takes on a pro-vitamin form converting to pantothenic acid, which can penetrate hair fibers to add strength," explains Dobbs.

Lash Lengthening Ingredients

If it's longer lashes you're after, look for prostaglandins—lipids that contribute to the growth of lashes through hormone-like effects, says Sheel Desai Solomon, M.D., a dermatologist in Raleigh Durham, NC.

Peptides are also a good indication that an eyelash serum could lengthen your existing lashes. "These protein fragments are believed to promote hair growth from within the follicle and lengthen the growth cycle," says Dobos. (

And since the skin around the eyelash follicles needs to be healthy and hydrated for lashes to reach their full potential, hyaluronic acid (a well-known hydrator found in skin-care products) is another stellar ingredient to look out for, she adds.

Now that you know what to expect from eyelash serums, here are some of the top picks for the products that are worth your money.

The Best Eyelash Growth Serums to for Fuller, Longer Lashes

  • GrandeLASH-MD Lash Enhancing Serum: This eyelash serum has garnered a cult following for the mix of hyaluronic acid, peptides and amino acids that can give lashes a healthier appearance. (Buy It, $68, sephora.com)
  • Pronexa Hairgenics Lavish Lash: The whopping 15K five-star Amazon reviews have turned this serum into a must-have that's ideal for even the most sensitive lids. (Buy It, $20, amazon.com)
  • L'Oreal Paris Lash Serum Solution: A combo of glycerin, vitamin B5 and hyaluronic acid creates a conditioning barrier for lashes to claims to make them less prone to breakage in just four weeks. (Buy It, $13, target.com)
  • Vichy LiftActiv Serum 10 Eyes and Lashes: The peptide-filled two-in-one serum tightens the eye area and helps fill-in sparse lashes. (Buy It, $35, dermstore.com)
  • Shiseido Lash and Brow Serum: The Japan-born brand's lash serum uses arginine and promises fuller lashes (and brows, actually) with eight weeks or less of use. (Buy It, $36, sephora.com)
  • Maybelline Lash Sensational Boosting Eyelash Serum: The brand's first eyelash enhancer taps into the power of vitamin B5 to strengthen lashes for less breakage. (Buy It, $14, ulta.com)
  • Jane Iredale Lash Enhancer and Conditioner: Swipe a coat of this eyelash conditioner under your morning mascara to keep lashes in top shape. (Buy It, $26, neimanmarcus.com)
  • LashFood Conditioning Collagen Lash Primer: You've probably heard about the drinking collagen for your skin (jury is still out on the truth behind that, BTW), but adding collagen to your lashes may also provide a major boost. (Buy It, $20, dermstore.com)
  • No7 Lash Impact Lash Serum: Apply this lash serum from favorite U.K. brand every night for eight weeks and you could start gradually waking up with fuller lashes. (Buy It, $10, target.com)
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