Is Mascara a Thing of the Past?


With medical and cosmetic advancements in recent years, achieving the coveted doe-eyed look is easier than ever.

“Eyes are the window to the soul.” It’s cliché, but upon first meeting, the eyes are undoubtedly the trait that stands out. Now, with medical and cosmetic advancements in recent years, achieving the coveted doe-eyed look is easier than ever.

One method is Latisse, the first lash-thickening product on the market that’s approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has also been the leader in this area, albeit inadvertently. Latisse was derived from the glaucoma drug Lumigan (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution), because when the drops were administered directly onto the eyes of glaucoma patients, users noticed that their lashes became longer and thicker. Since December 2008, Latisse has been FDA-approved for “inadequate eyelash” use and can be prescribed by a variety of medical doctors who range from ophthalmologists, to dermatologists, to cosmetic surgeons.

How does Latisse work?

Each night, Latisse is dabbed along the upper lash line with the supplied sterile applicators and automatically spreads to your lower lash line as you blink. Over the 16-week treatment period, the average patient’s lashes show a significant improvement, and a majority of patients have reported being satisfied by their thicker and darker lashes. Users continue to experience results with ongoing application of the product.

Some adverse side effects that have been documented in about 4 percent of users include mild irritation or allergic reactions such as darkening circles around the eye and dry, red eyes. Even actress Claire Danes, a Latisse spokeswoman, admitted that she has experienced eye irritation while using the product. In her Latisse video diary, Danes explains, “When I first started using Latisse … the skin around my eyes [was] a little bit red. That lasted for about a week. Since then, no, I haven’t had any side effects.”

How do Latisse’s results compare to cosmetic mascara?

We all see those ads in magazines: A wave of a mascara wand and the models’ eyes are framed with those desirable, thick lashes. But recent press draws to mind the old adage “buyers beware.” A CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara ad featuring America’s Next Top Model winner Nicole Fox illustrates a before picture with sparse, clumpy lashes and an after picture with long, thick lashes after use of the product. However, Jezebel editor Dodai Stewart read the very fine print, which says: “Lash inserts were applied to both of Nicole’s lashes to add lash count before applying mascara.” But CoverGirl isn’t the only offender, as 58 percent of cosmetic companies admit that their models’ lashes are digitally enhanced to appear longer in mascara ads, while 42 percent admit to using false eyelashes.

Another option for thickening anemic lashes is the semi-permanent LashDip. Co-created by beauty industry veteran and master eyelash extension technician Jessica Harley and hair colorist and former Vidal Sassoon chemical technician Gina Mondragon, LashDip is a black jelly coating that’s cold air cured onto lashes by a salon technician and can last between six and eight weeks. As I discussed in a recent Glo MSN article, LashDip is a “super-mascara with a gel additive that lengthens the duration of the effect of the mascara.”

How does LashDip work? 

With LashDip, the volume of lashes is increased because it adds molecular weight outside the lash, which, in turn, increases the lash diameter. The curl is achieved by a licensed technician sculpting the lash into a bent position. Lastly, length is added via the tubular nature in which LashDip dries, which adds millimeters to the ends of stubby lashes. It’s recommended that patients receive a refresh treatment about three-weeks after their initial application to backfill as their lashes grow out.

To date, side effects have been limited to rare complaints about eye sting if the client opens their eyes during application or redness around the eyes for a few minutes following application.

Can LashDip be used in conjunction with other lash-enhancing products?

Once the lashes have grown to a lush and long state with Latisse, LashDip is a perfect supplement to pump up the volume and length in order to give lashes an added “wow” factor. LashDip works the same as mascara, so there’s no need for daily applications of the cosmetic, which is a huge plus during the summer or vacations, because there’s no need to check or reapply mascara after getting in and out of the pool or ocean.

Why go back to mascara when Latisse and LashDip are so readily available? 

Even though Latisse is approved by the FDA, some people have expressed concern. Since Latisse has only been on the market for three years, there’s some apprehension about the long-term side effects that may be experienced down the road.

Cost is also a major determining factor, as one 30-day supply of Latisse — which includes one bottle of the solution and 30 pairs of applicators — goes for around $120, totaling $480 for the 16-week trial period alone. Similarly expensive, LashDip treatments range from $150 to $200 per application. On the other hand, the average cost of a bottle of mascara can range from $6 to $15 for a drug-store variety and $24 to $50 for high-end mascara.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Stay with mascara — a tried-and-true product that has been used by previous generations — or try one or both of the new lash-enhancing products, which may soon make mascara obsolete.

Robert T. Grant, MD, MSc, FACS, is Chief of the combined Divisions of Plastic Surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center and New York-Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center. He is also Associate Clinical Professor of Surgery in the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University and Adjunct Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. For more information about Dr. Grant or to contact him, visit his website at

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