If you weren't born with naturally lush lashes, extensions may not be your only option.
Anyone who has looked into growing their lashes will have heard of a prescription product called Latisse, which was originally developed from another drug used to treat glaucoma. Because of its active ingredient bimatoprost, Latisse — which was FDA approved in 2008 — aided in eyelash growth and became highly coveted, but inaccessible, due to its prescription-only status.
What followed was the introduction of a slew of lash serums from beauty companies that wanted to mirror the success of Latisse, but could be purchased over-the-counter.
But the high price point of eyelash serums is another reason some consumers are hesitant to try these products. Most serums range in price from $70 to $150, which is steep for a small amount of product that may or may not work. That's where we come in with our detective hats on.
Eyelash serums work differently for everyone
Kristel Lazaro is a Toronto-based cosmetic registered nurse and the founder of Lifted Medical. As an expert in the realm of medical aesthetics and someone who has personally tried lash serums, she would err on the side of prescription serums, like Latisse, if you want more guaranteed results. Of course, that requires a visit to a licenced medical professional.
"I don't feel eyelash enhancers are a 'scam.' There have been reported clinical studies and trials, which strengthen evidence that supports specific lash serum effectiveness in helping treat a medical condition known as hypotrichosis," she explained to HuffPost Canada in an email. "(Hypotrichosis occurs when) a person experiences diminished hair growth and/or hair thinning, especially on the eyelashes."
WATCH: Make your own natural eyelash serum with this recipe. Story continues below video.
However, like most beauty products, results can vary from person to person — prescription or not.
"In many cases, prescribed eyelash serums can work more on others or actually have little to no effect at all, as with all medications," Lazaro noted. "At times, you'll also find that you may need to try it out (unfortunately), to see if it is something that will personally work for you."
While Latisse and other prescription products have a medicinal component (bimatoprost), over-the-counter serums contain lash stimulants, which Lazaro can't vouch for with 100 per cent certainty.
"In many cases, the action of active ingredients in over-the-counter lash serums, like Biotin or Arginine for eyelash enhancement, can be looked at as a supplement as opposed to a treatment," Lazaro said.
"Most over-the-counter lash growth serums on the market rely heavily on moisturizing and nourishing ingredients to supplement an optimal foundation for eyelash hair follicles to grow. Whether over-the-counter lash enhancement serums work as they claim is, unfortunately, still debatable."
Some experts stand by over-the-counter serums
On the flipside, Sarah Iskander, 31, is an experienced lash technician in the Greater Toronto Area and has no reservations about EyEnvy, an over-the-counter lash serum that costs about $80. She has so much confidence in the product that she sells it to her clients.
"I started using the product in the spring of 2016. I have pretty decent lashes to begin with and my hair grows quite quickly already, so I noticed some growth within three weeks of using the product. After two months, my results were just amazing," she told HuffPost Canada via email.
Sophie De Francesco, a 22-year-old Toronto student, has experienced similar success and enthusiastically advocates for EyEnvy.
"EyEnvy is amazing! My lashes are long, thick and strong and have been since I started using it. I used it everyday for the first three months and now use it every other day and my lashes are still great," De Francesco told HuffPost Canada. "The small bottle has lasted me around four months, so [it] is definitely worth the price."
But eyelash serums have side effects, too
Unfortunately, eyelash serums aren't miracles in a bottle — yet.
Iskander noticed that "the hairs can grow a little bit wild, they're not always uniform or straight."
"Some people can experience irritation, and if you're not careful about how you apply it, you can grow unwanted hairs in other places," the lash technician added. "I've also heard that Latisse can change your eye colour. Also, the growth is not permanent — if you stop using the product, your lashes will go back to how they normally are."
For our cosmetic RN, Lazaro's personal experience with EyEnvy has been less than optimal.
"Since I've just started trying it out [three weeks ago], I have yet to see its effect," she said.
More from HuffPost Canada:
Consistency and patience is key, however, as most serums, including EyEnvy, require everyday application. And as per the company's FAQs, "Typically most individuals start seeing results within four to six weeks. Full results are achieved within three months."
The beauty product world is almost never black and white when it comes to results, and eyelash serums aren't exempt. There are overwhelming reviews that vouch for EyEnvy, but there's always the possibility it won't be compatible with your body chemistry.
Science has established that Latisse is indeed effective, for the most part, but it can come with a number of side effects, such as skin darkening, dry eyes and itchiness. Like any responsible medical professional, Lazaro emphasizes the importance of consulting with a doctor if that's the route you want to go for Betty Boop-like lashes.