Protein-laden foods, eyelash conditioners, natural oils, and prescription drugs containing bimatoprost or prostaglandin inhibitors can assist people in their efforts to grow eyelashes. Many people covet lashes that make an impact. False eyelashes and a range of beauty treatments have been used since the days of Cleopatra to create the illusion of thicker, longer lashes. Besides vanity, eyelash loss from alopecia is another reason many seek treatment to help grow eyelashes longer. Few things, however, can actually coax stubborn eyelashes to grow.
An eyelash in its growing phase grows approximately 0.006 inches (about 0.16 mm) per day. The lifetime growth cycle of an individual eyelash lasts for just two to three months and is very difficult to augment. After that, the eyelash rests at its terminal length before eventually falling out. At any time, about 15 percent of eyelashes remain in the growing phase, while the other 85 percent exist in the dormant or resting phase.
How to increase the growing phase remained a mystery until a drug prescribed to cure glaucoma — which uses bimatoprost to reduce eye pressure — resulted in enhanced eyelash growth. Women using the drug discovered that their lashes expanded in length and width by 20 to 30 percent, according to a University of California clinical trial. In 2009, that drug re-entered the consumer market specifically as an eyelash treatment after receiving the approval of the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Several generic treatments containing bimatoprost for eyelash growth have also been approved.
Users apply the serum to the base of their eyelids daily to grow eyelashes to greater lengths. If the treatment is stopped, however, the eyelashes fall out. Side effects are possible. The retina of the eye can deepen in color. Also, glaucoma becomes harder to detect because the drug artificially adjusts eye pressure, thereby masking glaucoma.
People who don't want to use prescriptions can consider over-the-counter eye conditioners. These conditioners are not allowed to contain any controlled ingredients. In the 1990s, some conditioners used prostaglandin inhibitors to grow eyelashes. The FDA no longer allows that ingredient without a prescription and forbids conditioner labels to state that they can grow eyelashes. Still, some consumers claim conditioners have increased the length of their lashes.
Using a sterilized mascara brush to apply natural oils, such as castor oil, to the eyelashes nightly can result in longer lashes for some people. Coconut oil has also been praised as effective. Diets with an abundance of protein could help grow eyelashes. Lashes are comprised mainly of protein. Eating algae, fish, beans, and lean meats, which have easily digestible protein, can make eyelashes grow as well.