Does the DIY castor oil hack really work? What about RevitaLash, RapidLash or those growth-boosting mascaras? We review them all…
Just a few years ago, nothing would have prompted more panic than forgetting to pack your mascara in your travel make-up bag. It was a non-negotiable – as much of a staple as a pair of jeans or a good moisturiser. Fast forward to 2019 and it seems we’ve fallen a little bit out of love with the stuff.
Google searches for ‘mascara’ have dropped while growth in the mascara category is expected to slow to 2% by 2021 (from 4% in recent years), according to Euromonitor. It’s perhaps unsurprising when brands like Fenty Beauty and Anastasia Beverly Hills don’t offer even one mascara within their 200-odd product repertoires.
But if we’re not amping up our lashes with mascara, what are we doing? A full, long and defined flutter is universally flattering – capable of making the most fatigued of eyes look well-rested – after all.
The popularity of semi-permanent lash extensions is rocketing but industry stats suggest we’re also taking a ‘my lashes but better’ approach. There’s a new demand for lash-lifting treatments and growth-enhancing serums that merely boost what nature gave us - Pinterest searches for ‘natural lash lift’ are up a staggering 52%.
In-salon lash lifts (Nouveau Lashes’ LVL is the most popular) work by straightening natural lashes at the very root which, alongside a tint, gives the illusion of extra length and volume. They won’t damage lashes and don’t require any upkeep, unlike extensions. The results (above) can be pretty phenomenal.
Lash growth serums, on the other hand, are designed to be applied daily, using ingredients that actively stimulate growth.
Then there are lash conditioning serums – formulas that work more like hair conditioners. They won’t necessarily lengthen lashes but help to keep things healthy, preventing brittleness and breakage which in turn can encourage them to become thicker and longer.
Dermatologist Justine Hextall advises looking out for the same hydrating ingredients you’d find in good skincare. “Hyaluronic acid and glycerine are humectants that hydrate skin and lashes by attracting and holding on to water,” she explains. “Biotin is important for healthy keratin to strengthen lashes, and plays a role in the growth of thicker hair. And vitamins B5 and B6 also promote healthy hair because your body uses these nutrients to nourish your hair follicles,” Hextall adds.
And as for cheap DIY hacks - while there’s limited clinical evidence to back these up, Stylist’s junior beauty writer Ava Welsing-Kitcher reported a visible difference having used one home-made blend for a month. Clean out a clear mascara tube then mix three parts castor oil to one part coconut oil. Use the clean wand to apply the mixture to your brows and lashes each night.
Prefer a formula boasting cutting-edge technology and proven ingredients? We’ve rounded up the best lash-boosting products on the market.
The key to making them work? Be patient (our lashes have a cycle of up to 90 days so you may not see full results until then) and be consistent (no skipping days!). Before applying, make sure your lash-line is free from oily make-up removers or cleanser residue that could create a barrier.
10 of the best lash growth serums and lash conditioning serums
Best for ultimate length
RevitaLash Cosmetics RevitaLash Advanced
Loved by beauty industry experts (and Meghan Markle), RevitaLash is considered the gold standard in lash growth serums. Commit to just one speedy swipe each night and you’ll see a visible difference in two to three weeks. It works by slightly slowing your lashes’ growth cycle so, while they’re still fall out eventually as is required for healthy eyes, they’ll stay put that little bit longer – allowing them to reach extra lengths. Masterminded 11 years ago by a doctor who wanted to help his wife suffering from lash loss after cancer, the company is still family-run and dedicates substantial time and funds towards breast cancer research and awareness.
Best mid-priced lash growth serum
RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum
This is another industry favourite. Again, it harnesses proven, growth-stimulating ingredients although they’re slightly different to RevitaLash and testers have found the results to be a little less dramatic. Still, you’ll get a marked increase in length and thickness that’ll be noticeable, not just by you, but others, too.
Best affordable lash serum
Gosh Eyelash Growth Serum
As drugstore formulas go, this is a smart pick. While some testers took a month or so to observe an effect, others reported a significant difference in just a fortnight. Stubby or wimpy lashes had a boost on both the length and fullness fronts. A good place to start if you’re just after a helping hand or have hit the extensions too hard.
Best for use before mascara
L’Oreal Paris Clinically Proven Lash Serum
Most lash serums are for nightly use but this gem is to be slicked on morning and night. It’s worth the extra pre-make-up step, though. After leaving it to dry for 60 seconds, you’ll notice your mascara glides on more smoothly and lashes appear a little fuller and more defined. Over time, castor oil, vitamin b5, hyaluronic acid and Filloxane (the same ingredient found in L’Oreal Paris’ best-selling hair thickening shampoo) will get to work.
Best anti-ageing eye cream formula
Vichy LiftActiv Supreme Eyes & Lashes Illuminating and Lifting Effect Serum
This innovative number is truly unique in the form of a multi-tasking feather-weight lotion. Just one pump applied all over the eye zone tackles several areas – smoothing, firming and refreshing the skin while strengthening sparse lashes. Bonus: the light-reflective particles have an immediate illuminating effect.
Best for targeting both lashes and brows
Hairburst Lash and Brow Enhancing Serum
You’ve probably heard of Hairburst after seeing it on Instagram – a whole host of reality stars and influencers have been spotted promoting it. The effects are impressive, though. Most lash formulas will work on brows, too, but this is specifically designed for the job with a mascara-like wand that can be brushed through easily.
Best for use with lash extensions
Nouveau Lashes Lash and Brow Conditioning Serum
While other brands of lash serum can often be used when you have extensions or a lash lift, this trusted favourite is specifically targeted for the job so you can rest assured there’s no risk of ruining things. Jam-packed with nourishing lash goodies as well as powerful anti-oxidants, the hypo-allergenic formula can be used daily. Another double-duty wonder, it works on brows, too.
Best for boosting thickness
Flawless Lashes by Loreta Lash Wizard Serum
This formula’s the brainchild of Loreta Jasilionyte – an industry-reknowned lash technician who has years of educating others under her belt. With a solid understanding of all things flutter-related, she conjured up her own booster. It uses sophisticated technology to encourage the formation of keratin so lashes grow back stronger and thicker. After 14 days, sparse gappy areas will be fuller and more plentiful.
Best two-in-one mascara and growth serum
Kiko 30 Days Extension Daily Treatment Mascara
This multi-action gem is a saviour if you’re time-poor – it acts like an ordinary mascara only with added growth-boosting powers, too. Use it daily for the instant impact and before long, you’ll notice your lashes looking more luscious sans make-up, too.
Best for fussy eyes
No7 Lash Impact Lash Serum
You can always rely on Boots’ No7 range for impressive results and hard-working ingredients at a not-too-shabby price point. This works on thickness, promising visibly fuller lashes after at least eight weeks of applying it nightly. It’s also hypo-allergenic so a good choice if you’re sensitive.
Images: Courtesy of brands