Are lash serums... dangerous? Here's everything you need to know.

If you're a girl with eyelashes, chances are you probably wish they were a little longer. Fuller. Fluffier. 

Y'know. Just overall... better.

While you might've toyed around with eyelash extensions or false lashes, if you're looking for something a little better for the health of your lashes, you've probably dipped your toes into the world of eyelash serums.

They're everywhere right now. Just scroll through Instagram or TikTok and we guarantee you'll find a squillion views under tags like 'lash serum' and 'best lash serum'. 

There are so many different formulas out there, ranging from prescription serums to boost your lash growth cycle to over-the-counter lash 'enhancing' formulas that work to strengthen and condition lashes.

Watch: Speaking of eyes... check out this handy step-by-step makeup tutorial for hooded lids. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

But just how safe are they? And what kind of side effects could you be risking by using a lash serum on the regular? 

Because if there's one thing we do know, it's that consistency is key. So, if you're going to be slathering something on your eyes every single day, you're probably going to want to make sure it's not... dangerous.


That's why we hit up an expert. Below, we spoke to optometrist Karen Walsh to find out everything we need to know about eyelash serums. 

Are eyelash growth serums safe?

As mentioned before, you need a prescription to buy the type of lash serum that will actually impact your lash's growth cycle. These medicated formulas are usually prescribed by a doctor to help patients suffering from hair loss — so they're the real deal when it comes to results.

"If you’re placing any kind of product on the skin around your eyes, be mindful of the ingredients," said Walsh. 

She added that all lash growth serums that can be purchased online contain a specific drug that's used to treat glaucoma — and it has the potential to cause some pretty hectic side effects.

"While they are linked to eyelash growth, they’re not approved for use in eyelash serums in Australia," she said.

However, as we all know, the online beauty business can be pretty shady, and these days you can almost purchase almost anything online. Meaning? 

People are using eyelash growth serums without realising the potential side effects.

Listen: Want to enhance your lashes but don't know how to go about it? In this episode, You Beauty host Kelly McCarren takes a deep dive on all things lashes. Post continues below.


"Eyelash products containing this specific drug can cause irreversible unwanted side effects including skin hyperpigmentation and a loss of fatty tissue around the eyes. So yes, I’d be worried about using them," said Walsh.

When it comes to over-the-counter treatments, a lot of what is out there is rigorously tested, however it's important to know that the safety of every product isn't guaranteed and they could pose risks.

She added, "Because medicated lash serums are not readily available in Australia, most lash serums offered over the counter will have varying ingredients depending on the brand, so definitely be mindful of this!"

"If you’re unsure at all about an eyelash serum (or any product you’re looking to use around your eyes) check in with your eye care professional."

What are the side effects of lash serums?

So, what kind of side effects are we talking about here? Well, along with redness (also called conjunctivitis) and puffiness of eyes, more serious side effects include severe burning or itching of your eyes and the "elongation and darkening of the eyelashes," said Walsh. 

"This sometimes causes lashes to become so long that they turn inwards and rub off the cornea. It can also cause little hairs to grow from the inner corners of the eye and sometimes elsewhere on the eyelid." 


The darkening of the iris and the skin around your eye is another huge downside, which Walsh said can be permanent (!!!), even after you stop using the lash serum. She added, "A sunken, hollow appearance to the eyes can be caused by a loss of volume around them."


"In rare cases, lash serums can cause iris cysts, cystoid macular oedema (swelling at the macula), and the reactivation of herpes simplex (which is the cold sore virus in the eye)."

"In very rare cases they can have systemic side effects like exacerbation of asthma, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and even UTIs."

Okay, nice. Sounds terrifying.

What changes are experts seeing?

When it comes to what Walsh is actually seeing in her practice, she told us that most patients she sees using lash growth serums present cosmetic changes to their eyes.

Most commonly, she said, "The eyelashes can grow really long to the point where they turn in on themselves and scratch the cornea (front surface of the eye)."

"This tends to be really uncomfortable, but can actually turn really serious and can lead to eye infection and potential loss of vision."

"Sometimes I have had to pluck these lashes out to protect the patient’s cornea. We see tiny, little hairs growing from the inner corner where there shouldn’t be hairs, and one odd case where almost the entire mobile lid was covered in hair!"



Walsh added, "I'm a makeup and beauty junkie, and I would really avoid eyelash serums, if not for all the medical reasons mentioned above, just to avoid the big dark circles around the eyes!"

"I would recommend using a mascara that doesn't flake or transfer instead."

If you're looking for some of the best mascaras that won't break the bank, check out Leigh Campbell's favourites here.

Do you use a lash serum? Have you ever experienced side effects? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: Getty; Canva.

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