How to Grow Your Eyelashes Really, Really Long

Eyelashes looking a little sad or stubby? Staring enviously at every baby you see (WTF, baby! What are you doing with all those long lashes?!) Welcome to the club of, uh, basically everyone. If you’ve already tried all of the lengthening mascaras, eyelash extensions, and lash lifts, you may be ready to get to the literal root of the problem and figure out how to actually grow your eyelashes, not just fake them.

But before messaging that old high school friend on Facebook to buy whatever lash serum they’re selling, you need to consider a few very important factors, first (we are talking about your precious eyes, after all). Below, Ilyse Haberman, assistant professor of ophthalmology at NYU-Lagone, shares all of her expert knowledge for growing your eyelashes both quickly and safely—so you can finally stop hatin’ on babies.

How long does it take to grow your eyelashes?

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to get extra-long eyelashes, let’s revisit the basics that you probably never even learned. The growth cycle of your eyelashes consists of three phases: catagen (dormant stage), telogen (shedding stage), and anagen (the growth phase). So, realistically, your lashes spend most of their time chillin’ and falling out, not actually growing, which is why results aren’t instantaneous.

In fact, Dr. Haberman says it can take three months for your lashes to naturally grow. But, because I know you’re impatient and want your eyelashes to grow overnight, you’ll be happy to know that there is a way to extend the growing phase.

How can I stimulate my eyelashes to grow?

If you’ve ever watched TV or opened a magazine, you’ve likely heard of a product called Latisse—the only FDA-approved eyelash growth serum on the market. It was originally created as eye drops for glaucoma (high eye pressure), when doctors noticed its other benefit: the ability to grow longer, thicker eyelashes.

After a few iterations and ingredient refinements, Latisse was born, using the active ingredient bimatoprost to help grow your existing lashes and stimulate the growth of new hairs in four to six weeks. Pretty cool, huh? The only little hurdle is that it’s prescription only, so you gotta go to a derm or doctor to get it.

Which brings us to your next thought: What about the random eyelash serums I see on articles and Instagram? And, ahem, right this way…

Do OTC eyelash growth serums really work?

Not to further complicate a topic that’s already complicated enough, but this question is a loaded one. If your friends have been using OTC lash serums and *swear* they’ve gotten longer, thicker lashes, it’s very possible they’re using a product that contains an ingredient comparable to bimatoprost.

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