If the eyes are the window to the soul, then eyelashes are the drapes — and nobody wants thin drapes. But thick eyelashes often involve pricey salon visits or applying fiddly fakes at home.
Latisse® (bimatoprost) is another solution.
Latisse is FDA-approved to treat hypotrichosis of the eyelashes. Or in simple terms — not having enough eyelashes. It can promote lash growth and make your lashes darker, thicker and longer.
But Latisse side effects do exist. We’ll dive into the common and the not-so-common ones below. Plus, we’ll share how to apply Latisse to minimize your risk of side effects.
Side effects from Latisse are rare. According to the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration), the most common adverse reactions happen in less than four percent of people.
Here are the common side effects.
The most common side effect of Latisse is itchy and red eyes. This is reported in about 4 percent of people, though, so it’s still rare.
Latisse can also cause dry eyes, which might add to your eye redness and itchiness.
This negative side effect of Latisse should clear up on its own, but speak to your provider or an ophthalmologist if it doesn’t.
Latisse can irritate your eyelids, leading to redness. You might get a burning sensation on your eyelids, and they may feel itchy.
Latisse can also cause a rash on the eyelids or around the eyes. Speak to your provider if you develop a rash. They can advise you on whether you should keep using Latisse.
Latisse makes your eyelashes darker, but it can have this effect on your upper eyelids, too. And your eyelids may get darker and darker if you keep using Latisse.
Darker lids may make it look like you’ve got sunken eyes. But this side effect might not happen straight away.
One paper looked into four cases of eyelid skin darkening caused by Latisse and found that participants noticed discoloration after three to eight weeks of use.
Despite noticing skin hyperpigmentation, each participant chose to continue using Latisse. This may show that the side effect wasn’t severe enough to bother them.
Not going for the smokey-eye look? The good news is this side effect is reversible. Discontinuation of Latisse has been shown to reverse the darkening of the upper eyelids. You should be back to your regular coloring within several weeks or months.
Beyond eyelash growth, Latisse can cause hair growth where you might not want it. This can happen if the solution repeatedly comes into contact with skin outside the treatment area.
For example, if you apply Latisse in a rush and the formula frequently runs down your cheeks, you might notice new hairs growing on your face.
This condition is known as hypertrichosis — or excessive hair growth.
To reduce your chances of this possible side effect, make sure you’re applying Latisse only to the skin at the base of your eyelashes and blotting any excess with a tissue or cotton pad.
An eye infection is one Latisse eyelash serum side effect you have some control over.
There’s a small risk of developing an eye infection, like conjunctivitis, from using Latisse. But using the product wrong can up your odds.
To avoid contamination and potential infection, wash your hands before applying the product. And make sure the bottle tip and applicator don’t touch any other surface — so don’t lay them on the side of your sink or touch them with your fingers.
We’re all for recycling, but don’t reuse the sterile applicators that come with Latisse. They should be used on one eye only, then thrown away.
If you develop an infection, let your healthcare provider know. And while we’re here, let them know if you develop a new eye condition, have eye surgery or experience an allergic reaction. They can advise you on whether you should keep using Latisse.
There are a few less common side effects of Latisse you need to know about. These are a little more concerning — but, once again, they’re rare.
One scary-sounding bimatoprost side effect is a change in eye color — and this change can be permanent.
Latisse may increase the amount of brown pigmentation in your irises (the colored part of your eye). This can cause either part of your iris or the entire iris to become browner.
This Latisse eye color change may not happen for several months — or even years — after you start using the product.
A change in eye color may be more common in those using Lumigan®, which contains the same active ingredient as Latisse: bimatoprost. Lumigan is an eye drop you apply directly into your eyes, not just to the base of your lashes.
Even then, changes in eye color are only reported in less than one percent of people using Lumigan — so it’s a rare one.
To reduce your risk, take care with your application of Latisse to prevent the solution from going into your eyes.
If you notice changes in your eye color, you don’t need to stop use of Latisse. That said, you should seek medical advice if you’re concerned.
Latisse may lower intraocular pressure (IOP) — pressure inside your eyes. However, clinical studies show this isn’t enough of a reduction to cause clinical concern.
In fact, that’s what Lumigan does. It’s used to treat elevated intraocular pressure.
Speak to your healthcare provider if you’re using Lumigan — or any other prostaglandin analog drugs for eye pressure problems — and want to start using Latisse. The combination may make Lumigan less effective.
Another potential (albeit minor) side effect is the chance of your eyelashes growing asymmetrically. This was seen in some participants in one small study, though the researchers stated that one reason for this could be due to users applying the product unevenly.
For kids and teens, there are no additional side effects to worry about. Research into those aged five to 17 didn’t find any further safety concerns.
However, the FDA recommends people under 16 not use Latisse because of safety concerns around increased pigmentation from long-term use.
Got questions? We’ve got answers. Check out our Latisse FAQs for more.
Some Latisse side effects could be avoided by applying the product correctly and applying the right amount of product.
Here’s what you need to do:
Wash your hands and face. Remove any mascara, makeup and contact lenses if you wear them.
Remove the sterile applicator from its tray, taking care not to touch the tip you’ll be touching to your eyelids. Place one drop of Latisse solution onto the area closest to the tip, but not directly onto the tip.
Draw the applicator along the skin at the base of your upper eyelashes. Start at the inner part of the eye and draw outward. Don’t apply Latisse to your lower lash line.
Blot any excess product with a tissue or cotton pad.
Throw the applicator away and repeat the treatment on the other eye using a new applicator. If you wear contacts, you can pop them back in after 15 minutes.
Pro tip: Keep Latisse to yourself — no sharing with friends! Nothing ruins a friendship faster than passing on an eye infection.
Latisse can come with a few hairy side effects. But they’re rare and generally mild — and you may find the benefits of the medication outweigh any possible downsides.
Here are the key takeaways:
Latisse side effects are rare. Common side effects happen in less than 4 percent of people. They include eye irritation and dryness, darkening eyelids and hair growth outside the lashes.
Keep an (ahem) eye out for less common side effects. This includes increased iris pigmentation.
Most side effects are reversible. Red, itchy eyes may get better on their own, and darker eyelids may clear up when you stop using Latisse. Changes to your eye color may be permanent, though.
Latisse can help you get thicker, longer, darker eyelashes — the real triple threat. And it’s cheaper than those pricey salon visits. We’ve covered more in our guide to the cost of Latisse.
It’s not the only option out there, though.
Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership.
She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH.
Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare.
Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.
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