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Latisse (Bimatoprost) 101: What It Is, How to Get It, Side Effects & More

Kristin Hall

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/08/2020

If you’ve searched online for information about growing longer, thicker eyelashes, you may have heard of a treatment called Latisse. 

Latisse® is an FDA-approved medication that’s designed to increase the length and thickness of your eyelashes. First approved in 2008, Latisse is the only treatment that’s scientifically proven to improve the growth of your lashes.

In short, it’s a safe, effective option for giving your eyelashes greater length, thickness, volume and darkness, all without the need to use falsies or mascara. 

Below, we’ve explained what Latisse is, how it works, how you can get it and the potential side effects you could experience while using it. 

We’ve also covered the basics of using Latisse, making it easy for you to take action if you’re looking for a treatment that can give you longer, thicker and darker eyelashes.

What Is Latisse (Bimatoprost)?

Latisse is an FDA-approved medication that can improve the growth of your eyelashes. It’s a topical solution that’s applied daily to your upper eyelashes with a sterile applicator. 

Used daily, Latisse can help you grow longer, thicker and darker eyelashes. If your eyelashes are overly thin and you find that you need to use lots of mascara to make them look thick and dark, Latisse could be a solution.

Latisse contains the active ingredient bimatoprost. It’s designed to treat the growth condition hypotrichosis, which causes inadequate growth of the eyelashes. 

It takes about four weeks for Latisse to produce a noticeable improvement in the length and thickness of your eyelashes. If you apply Latisse daily, you’ll usually notice the final results in about four months. 

Like many other medications, Latisse was originally developed for a different purpose. Allergan, the pharmaceutical company that first developed Latisse, originally intended for bimatoprost to treat ocular hypertension, a risk factor for glaucoma.

During testing, researchers found that patients given bimatoprost started to grow longer, thicker and darker eyelashes. Bimatoprost was then adapted into a new treatment designed specifically to improve the growth of the eyelashes. 

How Does Latisse (Bimatoprost) Work? 

Experts aren’t aware of exactly why or how Latisse works to change the thickness, length and color of your eyelashes. Based on the current scientific data, the active ingredient in Latisse is believed to change the way your eyelashes behave during the anagen (growth) phase of the hair cycle.

As we’ve covered in our guide to female hair loss treatments, each of your hairs goes through 

a growth cycle with four distinct stages. Bimatoprost, the active ingredient in Latisse, may cause more hairs than normal to enter the anagen — or growth — phase of this cycle.

Latisse may also increase the length of the growth phase of the cycle, meaning your eyelashes grow for longer and reach a greater length than they normally would.

Is Latisse (Bimatoprost) Effective?

Yes. Most people who use Latisse experience a significant, measurable improvement in eyelash growth over the course of several months.

In a smaller 2010 study, 19 participants were treated for six weeks with a gel solution that either contained bimatoprost (the active ingredient in Latisse) or normal saline. One solution was used on the left eye and the other used on the right eye to accurately measure any change in growth. 

Progress was measured weekly using calipers throughout the study, as well as at one and three months after use of the medication discontinued. The eyelashes treated with bimatoprost grew an average of 2mm over the course of the study, compared to just 1.1mm with the saline gel.

In short, the gel containing the active ingredient in Latisse almost doubled the level of eyelash growth in this study’s participants. 

In a 2014 study from Japan, participants with chemotherapy-induced eyelash hypotrichosis who received treatment with a bimatoprost showed significant increases in eyelash length, thickness and darkness over the course of four months. 

Another study from 2016 also demonstrated that bimatoprost is effective at increasing eyelash prominence. The researchers found that 70.8 percent of adolescents treated using bimatoprost grew more prominent eyelashes after four months of use, versus 26.1 percent who were given a placebo. 

It’s worth noting that although Latisse is effective at helping you grow longer, thicker and darker eyelashes, it’s not always effective for everyone. In the studies listed above, researchers noted that certain forms of eyelash loss, such as alopecia areata, may not improve with bimatoprost. 

According to data from the FDA, about 79 percent of people who use Latisse experience at least a  single grade increase in Global Eyelash Assessment (GEA) score — a scale used to measure eyelash growth. 

In short, Latisse is highly effective for most people. However, if your eyelash loss is caused by an autoimmune condition such as alopecia areata, it might not be fully effective for you. 

eyelash growth serum

longer, thicker, darker lashes. yes to that.

How to Use Latisse (Bimatoprost)

Latisse is a prescription medication, meaning you’ll need to see your healthcare provider before you can buy it. We offer Latisse online, subject to healtcare provider approval and an online consultation, with discreet delivery to your door. 

Because Latisse is designed as a cosmetic treatment, it usually won’t be covered by your health insurance plan. However, if you have a medical condition such as hypotrichosis, your insurance provider might provide some level of coverage for Latisse and other medications. 

Latisse is a liquid solution that’s designed to be applied to the base of your upper eyelids. Using it is simple:

  1. The best time to apply Latisse is at night, since there’s no risk of your makeup getting in the way of the medication. However, it’s also okay to use Latisse in the morning, before you use any other makeup or any other skincare products.

  2. Before you apply Latisse, make sure your eyelids and the skin around them is clean. If you’re wearing makeup, remove it before applying Latisse. You should also remove any contact lenses and thoroughly clean the area around your eyes.

  3. To prevent bacteria from getting into your eyes, thoroughly wash your hands before applying Latisse.

  4. Latisse comes with sterile applicators. To apply the medication, take one applicator out from its packaging. Hold the applicator horizontally, then apply one drop of the Latisse solution to the applicator.

    Apply the Latisse to the area closest to the tip of the applicator, but not directly onto the tip. The solution will soak into the applicator, making it easy to apply to your eyelid.

  5. Using the applicator, apply the Latisse solution to the base of your upper eyelashes. It’s best to start at the inner part of your eyelid, then apply the Latisse solution outward until you reach the outer part of your eyelashes.

    Make sure you don’t get any Latisse solution in your eyes. If there’s any excess solution on your eyelids, gently blot it away using a cotton pad.

  6. After you’ve finished applying Latisse to one eye, dispose of the applicator. Using a new applicator, repeat the process above for your other eye. Latisse is only designed for use on your upper eyelashes — you shouldn’t use it on your lower eyelashes.

  7. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying Latisse. If you use contact lenses, you can reinsert them 15 minutes after you’ve applied Latisse.

  8. Once your eyelashes are longer and thicker, you can switch to using Latisse every other day to maintain your new length and thickness. It’s also totally okay to use Latisse daily, even after you notice significant improvements.

  9. If you forget to use Latisse, don’t use twice as much of the solution the next day. Doing so won’t make the medication any more effective. Instead, just use a single drop of the solution for each eyelid as you normally would. 

It usually takes about two months before Latisse produces noticeable improvements in your lash length, thickness and color. Most people see the full results of Latisse after using the medication daily for three to four months. 

If you don’t notice results immediately, hang in there and keep using Latisse daily as prescribed by your healthcare provider . Latisse does work, but its results aren’t immediate. If you don’t see any changes in your eyelash length, thickness or color after two months, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider .  

Latisse is effective for as long as you use it, meaning you can keep your results by continuing to use the medication. If you stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will gradually return to their normal length, thickness and color. 

Can You Use Makeup With Latisse?

Yes. It’s completely okay to use mascara and other eye makeup while using Latisse. The easiest way to wear mascara and other makeup with Latisse is to apply Latisse at night, when you aren’t wearing any makeup. 

Applying Latisse at night means it won’t interfere with your makeup. It’s also a good practice in general, as the risk of the Latisse solution getting into your eyes is lower while you’re sleeping than when you’re awake. 

If you prefer to use Latisse in the morning, wait for the solution to dry completely before using any mascara, eye shadow or other cosmetics. Applying these products before Latisse has dried can prevent the medication from being fully absorbed by your skin, making it less effective. 

Latisse (Bimatoprost) Side Effects

Latisse is a safe, effective medication that’s been thoroughly tested and approved by the FDA. The majority of people who use it experience an increase in eyelash length and thickness with no serious side effects.

However, like other prescription medications, Latisse can occasionally cause side effects. Most of these side effects are mild and only affect a small percentage of people who use Latisse. The most common side effects include:

  • Itching/redness of the eyes. According to the FDA data referenced above, approximately 4 percent of people who use Latisse experience some level of itchiness and redness in the eyes. These effects often occur the first few times you use Latisse before improving over time.

    If you experience persistent or severe itching, redness or irritation to the eyes after you use Latisse, contact your healthcare provider as soon as possible.

  • Skin darkening. A small percentage of people who use Latisse report darkening of the skin where the medication is applied. If you notice your eyelids or the skin at the base of your eyelashes becoming darker after using Latisse, contact your healthcare provider.

  • Hair growth outside the treatment area. If you accidentally apply the Latisse solution to areas of your skin other than your eyelids, it’s possible for the medication to increase local hair growth in these areas.

    Wash your hands thoroughly after using Latisse. If you accidentally apply the solution to other areas of your face or body, carefully blot it away using a tissue or moist towel until all of the excess solution has been removed.

  • Changes in eye coloration. When applied directly to the eyes, bimatoprost (the active ingredient in Latisse) can potentially cause changes in eye coloration. This is rarely an issue with Latisse and is more common with eye drops used to treat glaucoma.

  • Eye infection. If you apply Latisse without washing your hands, or reuse an applicator, there is a risk that you could develop an eye infection. Always wash your hands before using Latisse and never reuse any of the applicators provided with the medication. 

If you have persistent eye issues, such as uveitis or conjunctivitis, your healthcare provider may recommend against using Latisse. If you use any medications for ocular hypertension and/or glaucoma, it’s important that you tell your healthcare provider about these before discussing Latisse.  

If you’re pregnant or nursing, you should not use Latisse. Although Latisse isn’t associated with any major birth defects in humans, there simply isn’t enough data on its use in pregnant women for it to be considered safe. 

In Conclusion

Used daily, Latisse can produce a marked improvement in the length, thickness and color of your eyelashes after about three to four months. 

While Latisse doesn’t work for everyone, it’s effective in almost 80 percent of people. If you have thin eyelashes and want to improve their length and thickness without relying on mascara or false eyelashes (or both), it’s worth considering Latisse as a treatment.

Latisse is a prescription medication, meaning you’ll need to talk to a healthcare provider before you can buy and use it. We offer Latisse online, subject to doctor approval and an online consultation, with discreet delivery to your door.

Learn More About Latisse (Bimatoprost)

Interested in using Latisse to improve your eyelash length, thickness and color? Our Latisse vs. Lash Boost & Others guide goes into detail on how Latisse compares to the competition in terms of results, ease of use and more. 

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.