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8 Best Lash Growth Serums That Volumize Thin, Sparse Lashes

Enhance your eyelashes, no mascara required

When you think about ways to make your eyelashes look longer, thicker and/or darker, swiping on a coat of mascara is probably the first thing that comes to mind. And while there’s absolutely no denying the power of a good mascara, it’s not the only tool in the lash-enhancing toolbox. Lash growth serums can do what their name suggests, helping stimulate hair growth and/or generally improving the overall appearance of your lashes. But the caveat here is that they’re not all created equal; they contain different types of active ingredients, ultimately resulting in different types of effects. And that’s exactly why we tapped top experts to breakdown exactly how these products work (and explain why you might want to consider using one), plus share the best lash growth serums that live up to their promises of delivering longer, fuller, more luscious lashes.

Related: How to Grow Eyelashes and Brows So They’re Fuller + Lusher: Experts’ Easy Tricks

How aging impacts eyelashes

mature woman applying mascara to thin eyelashes
Jason Homa/Getty

In short, aging takes a toll on your eyelashes in the same way it does on your skin, hair and nails. “As we age, our eyelashes become thinner, shorter and less dense,” explains Inna Lazar, OD, an optometrist and eye health expert in Greenwich, Connecticut. Just like the hair on our head, our lashes also grow through follicles that follow a set growth cycle; as we get older, the growth phase is shortened, which is what leads to all of the aforementioned issues, notes Dr. Lazar.

Adding insult to injury, we also start to produce fewer of the proteins and oils needed to keep lashes strong and supple, which is why they can start to become brittle and prone to breakage, adds Marisa Garschick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. At the end of the day, all of the above can contribute to your eyelashes generally looking more sparse and lackluster over time.

How do lash growth serums work?

The experts we spoke with categorized lash growth serums into two main categories. The first is those that are prostaglandin-based. These are ingredients that work by extending the growth phase of the hair cycle, ultimately leading to longer, thicker, darker eyelashes, explains Dr. Lazar. Sounds good, right? It is, because they do work — but prostaglandins also come with a list of potential side effects that can make them off-putting for many. (More on those in a moment.) It’s worth mentioning that Latisse, a popular lash growth serum available by prescription-only contains a prostaglandin, although there are also over-the-counter versions available.

The second category, non-prostaglandin formulas, rely on various ingredients that help to thicken and strengthen lashes, and/or conditioning ones that will help make them generally look better, Dr. Garshick says. For example, peptides and biotin are two commonly-found ingredients in lash growth serums that help strengthen lashes, whereas panthenol is a popular conditioning active. These types of serums may also contain vitamins, minerals and plant-based oils that help to nourish and hydrate the hairs.  Either way, simply strengthening and hydrating the lashes can actually make them appear thicker and darker, notes Diane Hilal-Campo, MD, a board-certified ophthalmologist in Oakland, New Jersey.

To learn more about lash growth serums, watch the below YouTube video by dermatologist Jenny Liu, MD.

Related: Castor Oil Proven to Regrow Hair on Head, Eyebrows + Eyelashes — For Pennies A Day!

What are the benefits of using a lash growth serum

“Using an eyelash serum can help you achieve fuller, longer lashes, without the need for makeup or extensions,” says Dr. Garshick, who adds that they can also make them thicker and stronger over time. “Unlike mascara, this is a more convenient and long-lasting solution for beautiful lashes.”

Related: Lash Lift Before and Afters: See How It Makes Eyelashes Look Thicker and Fuller — No Mascara Needed

What to look for in a lash growth serum

eyelash serum tube
Mariya Borisova/Getty

This goes back to our previous point about the different types out there and really boils down to your own personal preference and comfort level. The prostaglandin ones work, although, again, the doctors we spoke with were quick to call out potential side effects. These include irritation, discoloration of the eyelid and iris and even permanent fat atrophy around the eye, cautions Dr. Hilal-Campo. She also notes that, even if you don’t experience any of these issues, these types of serums can sometimes work too well and make your lashes too long. This can then increase the likelihood of dirt and debris getting pulled into the eye, as well as cause tears to evaporate too quickly, resulting in eye dryness.

Regardless, it’s a good idea to seek out some of those other ingredients — strengthening peptides and biotin, conditioning panthenol, hydrating hyaluronic acid — in any formula you choose, as they’re good for both the appearance and health of your lashes.

How to use a lash growth serum

First, make sure your face and eye area is clean and free of makeup, as you don’t want any residue in the way that might interfere with product absorption, advises Dr. Lazar. “Apply the serum along the upper lash line, similar to how you would apply liquid eyeliner. Most products come with a fine applicator brush, which makes this easy to do,” she says. One important note: These serums should not be applied on your lower lash line, as this increases the risk of it getting into your eyes; some will naturally drip down and get to those lashes. Use your serum once per day at bedtime, unless the product directions specify otherwise, says Dr. Lazar.

So, how long will it take to see results? Patience is a virtue and consistency is key. “Your lashes might look somewhat healthier immediately. A good serum will have conditioning ingredients that can make them look darker and shinier,” says Dr. Hilal-Campo. “However, lasting improvement and growth will take at least six to eight weeks, with the best results after about three to six months of regular use.”

The best lash growth serums

Keep scrolling to see the eight lash growth serums below that are all expert-vetted and recommended.

Best overall lash serum

TwentyTwenty Beauty Get Growing Lash & Brow Serum
TwentyTwenty Beauty

TwentyTwenty Beauty Get Growing Lash & Brow Serum

“Packed with castor, argan and coconut oils, this serum promotes longer, fuller-looking lashes without irritating ingredients,” says Dr. Lazar of one of her top picks, who adds that it’s especially good for anyone who needs to give their lashes a little extra TLC after extensions. Fun fact: This is actually Dr. Hilal-Campo’s line; she was inspired to create this product after seeing damage caused by other lash serums. 

Best budget lash serum

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash & Brow Serum
The Ordinary/Sephora

The Ordinary Multi-Peptide Lash & Brow Serum

Talk about a universal crowd pleaser — all three of our doctors recommended this choice. Along with the (very) wallet-friendly price tag, they laud it for the use of strengthening peptides, protective green tea and call out that it works equally well on brows, too.

Best conditioning lash serum

MILK Makeup KUSH Lash + Brow Serum
MILK Makeup

MILK Makeup KUSH Lash + Brow Serum

Dr. Lazar also likes this option (made with 90% natural ingredients), noting that it contains hemp seed extract, a great conditioning ingredient that makes lashes look healthier. It’s a great choice for those with sensitive eyes as well, since it’s fragrance- and prostaglandin-free and ophthalmologist-tested.

Best multi-tasking lash serum

Wander Beauty Upgraded Lashes Thickening Mascara
Wander Beauty

Wander Beauty Upgraded Lashes Thickening Mascara

Don’t want to have to work another product into your daily routine? Dr. Garshick likes this two-in-one, which acts as both a mascara and lash growth serum. “By applying it like your regular mascara, you not only enhance the appearance of your lashes, but also reap the benefits of a growth product, saving you time and money,” she says. Per the serum part of things, it contains peptides and panthenol to help boost length and thickness.

Best lash serum with prostaglandins

GrandeLASH MD Lash Enhancing Serum
Grande Cosmetics

GrandeLASH MD Lash Enhancing Serum

If you want to experience the legitimate growth-enhancing benefits of prostaglandins, consider this product, a top choice for Dr. Garshick. Along with the prostaglandin, it also contains amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants, as well as hydrating hyaluronic acid, she says.

Best lash serum without prostaglandins

Lumify Eye Illuminations Nourishing Lash & Brow Serum

Lumify Eye Illuminations Nourishing Lash & Brow Serum

Worried about the potential side effects of prostaglandins? Dr. Lazar says this newbie is getting a lot of buzz, thanks to its use of potent yet safe ingredients, including peptides, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and biotin.

Best lash serum for hair loss

Vegamour GRO Lash Serum

Vegamour GRO Lash Serum

If you can see your lashes actually falling out, this is a good pick to consider. Dr. Hilal-Campo likes it, noting that it contains clover and mung bean extract to block DHT, a hormone that contributes to hair loss. Dr. Garshick is a fan too, noting that it also helps improve thickness and fullness.

Best strengthening lash serum

Olaplex Lashbond Building Serum

Olaplex Lashbond Building Serum

This brand may be best known for their strengthening and reparative hair care, but don’t sleep on their lash serum. It touts the same bond-building technology (as well as peptides) to help strengthen and support lashes, says Dr. Garshick of another one of her recommendations. Dr. Lazar also likes this one, saying it can make lashes appear fuller and longer.

See more of our favorite beauty products:

Tubing Mascara: The Older You Are, The More You’ll Benefit From This New Approach To Lash Building

7 Best Night Creams for Mature Skin + Why You Should Add One to Your Skin Care Routine

What Is Lip Oil? The Science Behind the Viral Makeup Trend That’s So Much Cheaper Than Lipstick

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