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Lashing Out: Make Your Eyelashes Grow

It turns out a glaucoma medication can make lashes grow longer. But should you really use it for cosmetic reasons? Joanne Chen does the honors.

LASH LUST: continued...

The doctors I speak to, from derms to ophthalmologists, are already Latisse converts. "I wouldn't have trouble prescribing it," says Dr. Tamara Fountain, spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "I'd first screen patients for pre-existing conditions, like cataracts, but for the most part, Latisse has a high safety profile."

Dr. Scott Whitcup, Allergan's executive vice president of research and development, adds that if you consider all the patients who have used Lumigan, you'd count 8.8 million years of product exposure with hardly a complaint.

He's assuming Lumigan's safety record will be the same for Latisse. And yet, the products are not exactly one and the same. "With Lumigan, you want the eye to absorb it, but with Latisse, you're applying it locally," explains Dr. Wendy Lee, assistant professor of oculoplastic surgery at the University of Miami's Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

Latisse consists of at-home drops applied on the lashline of people with healthy eyes - a protocol tested on only 278 adults in a 16-week study. What happens in week 138? I find out that the most common side effects are redness and itching (in 3.6 percent of cases). There's also a slight chance of a darkening of the iris. All of this gives me pause. But I soon remind myself that I'm no stranger to eye irritation (I'll spare you my contact-lens adventures) and that my irises can't get any browner. Besides, the prospect of seeing my lashes grow - 25 percent longer! 106 percent thicker! - persuades me to forge ahead.

The application process takes less than a minute - and isn't as fussy as using mascara. Lee suggests that I proceed with my evening routine as usual and apply Latisse before bed. The first night, I take out my contact lenses, wash and moisturize, then gingerly dab the clear liquid across my top lashline with the disposable applicator provided. I blink, and much to my relief, it doesn't drip into my eyes and I feel no stinging. Even though I'm told it won't stain the sheets, I lie on my back in bed just in case. Feeling pretty pleased with myself - as if I exercised or ate right - I drift off to sleep.

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