Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 10/08/2020
Approved by the FDA, Latisse® (bimatoprost) is an effective treatment that can help you grow longer, thicker and darker eyelashes.
Originally launched approved by the FDA in 2001 as a treatment for eyelashes hypotrichosis — a condition that results in poor growth of the eyelashes — Latisse is also prescribed as a cosmetic treatment for people that feel their eyebrows aren’t long, thick or prominent enough.
We’ve covered the key benefits of Latisse, as well as how you can apply it, in our detailed guide to this medication.
Overall, Latisse is a safe and effective medication. However, a small percentage of people who use Latisse may experience side effects. Most of these side effects are mild, although some are more serious and longer-lasting.
Below, we’ve explained all of the potential side effects of Latisse (bimatoprost), with data on why they develop, how frequently they can occur and what you can do if you experience certain side effects while using Latisse.
In general, side effects from Latisse are not common. The majority of people who use Latisse do not experience any significant side effects, with data from the FDA indicating that even the most common side effects of Latisse only occur in four percent of patients or less.
In short, your risk of experiencing side effects from Latisse is fairly low. Of Latisse’s side effects, the most common are:
Itching, redness and irritation of the eyes is the most common side effect of Latisse, with around four percent of people who use this medication experiencing some form of this side effect.
This side effect typically occurs during the first few weeks of using Latisse, and it’s uncommon for this side effect to last for longer.
Latisse can also cause you to develop dry eyes, as well as other forms of irritation. Like itching and redness, these issues typically resolve on their own.
If your eyes feel red and irritated after you start using Latisse, it’s worth checking that you’re applying the solution correctly. Using too much solution, or applying it without using the sterile applicator properly, could worsen this side effect.
Our Latisse 101 guide explains how you can apply Latisse correctly, with simple step-by-step instructions.
If your eyes are still red, itchy or irritated more than a few weeks after you start using Latisse, it’s best to talk to the healthcare professional that prescribed you this medication. They may recommend changing your Latisse usage habits or, if the irritation is severe, ending your use of this medication.
Latisse may irritate the upper eyelids, causing them to temporarily take on a red color. Just like irritation and redness of the eyes, this side effect can occur shortly after you start using Latisse and continue for a few weeks.
As with other side effects of Latisse, skin redness should improve over time. If you notice that your eyelids are still red and irritated after using Latisse for several weeks, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
Bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse, can potentially cause your skin to take on a slightly darker tone. A small percentage of Latisse users report darkening of the upper eyelids after they start using Latisse regularly.
This side effect is known as Latisse-induced periocular skin hyperpigmentation. Like other side effects of Latisse, it doesn’t happen very often. According to data from the FDA, less than four percent of people who use Latisse report this side effect.
Unlike eye redness and irritation, darkening of the eyelids doesn’t occur instantly. Most reports, including those featured in the study above, involve this side effect appearing gradually over the course of three to eight weeks.
Because this increase in pigmentation occurs in the upper eyelids, it’s usually only visible when the eyes are closed. In the study linked above, the people who experienced this side effect still continued to use Latisse, potentially indicating that it wasn’t a major concern for them.
If you notice that the skin on your upper eyelids is getting darker after using Latisse, it’s best to contact your healthcare provider. Skin hyperpigmentation may be reversible, meaning your eyelids could go back to their previous skin tone after you stop applying Latisse.
Latisse may stimulate hair growth wherever it’s applied, meaning it’s possible — although rare — for the medication to cause hair growth on other parts of your face if the solution drips off your upper eyelids.
To avoid this side effect, make sure you apply Latisse properly using the sterile applicators that are provided with the medication. Use one applicator per eyelid, then gently blot away the extra solution using a cotton pad.
After you’ve finished using Latisse, dispose of the used applicators and wash your hands. If the solution came into contact with any other parts of your body, blot it away and clean the affected areas to make sure no excess solution remains.
While bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse, doesn’t increase your risk of developing an eye infection, applying the medication incorrectly or using non-sterile equipment can result in a higher risk of conjunctivitis and other common eye conditions.
Before you apply Latisse, wash your eyelids, cheeks and the areas surrounding your eyes as thoroughly as possible. You’ll need to remove any makeup and skincare products before you apply Latisse, as these can prevent your skin from properly absorbing the medication.
Wash your hands thoroughly before you apply Latisse in order to remove any dirt, irritants and bacteria that could get into your eyes.
Follow the instructions provided with Latisse to apply it properly. It’s important that you only use the sterile applicators provided with Latisse to apply the liquid solution. Do not reuse applicators or apply Latisse using an eyeliner brush or other non-sterile equipment.
Our Latisse 101 guide explains how to apply Latisse, with information on how you can make sure the application process is clean, hygienic and safe. If you believe you’ve developed an eye infection after using Latisse, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Latisse can also cause certain less common side effects. Of these, the most worrying is the risk of your isis (the colored part of your eye) permanently taking on a darker color. This occurs in a tiny percentage of Latisse users, as we’ve explained below.
Bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse, can stimulate the production of melanin. When this ingredient comes into direct contact with your eyes, it can cause the melanosomes in your irises (the colored part of your eye) to produce more melanin than normal, affecting their color.
If you have green or hazel eyes, they could potentially change to a slightly darker color after you start to use Latisse if the medication frequently comes into contact with your irises.
If you have blue eyes, bimatoprost may also cause some level of darkening. However, because people with blue eyes have relatively few melanosomes compared to people with green or hazel eyes, any change is usually less significant.
This side effect is irreversible, meaning there’s no way to return your eyes to their previous color if it happens.
While this side effect can seem alarming, it’s important to keep it in context. Because Latisse is designed for use on your upper eyelids instead of on your eyes, the amount of bimatoprost that reaches your irises is extremely small. In short, your risk of this side effect is very small.
This side effect is significantly more common with Lumigan, a bimatoprost eye drop medication that’s designed for application directly to the eyes. Even amongst users of this medication, only one to two percent develop any change in eye color during treatment.
Latisse is a safe, effective medication that is not linked to any dangerous side effects. If you use other medications that contain bimatoprost, such as Lumigan, or any other medications to treat elevated intraocular pressure (IOP), Latisse may prevent these from working effectively.
Because of this, if you have existing ocular health issues that require treatment, you should talk to your healthcare provider before considering Latisse. Depending on your existing issues and treatment, you may be advised not to use Latisse, or to only use it in combination with regular monitoring.
If you have eyelashes hypotrichosis, or you’re simply unhappy with the length and thickness of your eyelashes, Latisse is a safe, proven treatment that can help you add significant length, thickness and prominence to your eyelashes.
Like all prescription medications, Latisse can cause side effects. However, as we’ve explained above, these side effects are largely mild and only affect a small percentage of users.