Your eyebrows are an important part of your look, affecting your facial proportions and enhancing your ability to communicate with others.
If you’re experiencing eyebrow hair loss or you simply have sparse eyebrows, there aren’t a lot of options to help you regrow hair. But one option could come from a prescription-only treatment: Latisse, or 0.03% bimatoprost ophthalmic solution.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved Latisse for eyebrows, but there are some studies out there that support its use for this purpose. Keep reading to find out more about this treatment and whether it could help you.
The chief component in Latisse (bimatoprost) is a solution ophthalmologists prescribe via an eye drop to treat glaucoma. They’ve noted that patients who used the eye drop also experienced eyelash growth.
As a result, researchers and the company manufacturing the eye drops started to study bimatoprost as an eyelash growth treatment. The FDA approved Latisse for use on eyelashes in 2008.
Currently, Latisse is available by prescription as an eyelash growth treatment. It comes in a small bottle that resembles an eye drop container. You apply the eye drop solution to a special brush and smear the Latisse onto the upper eyelid on a daily basis to promote eyelash growth.
Currently, the FDA has only approved Latisse in the treatment of eyelash growth, and there are more studies regarding the effectiveness and safety of Latisse as an eyelash treatment.
Latisse manufacturers may not wish to pursue FDA approval for eyebrows, because it can be an expensive and lengthy process.
That said, doctors sometimes prescribe Latisse for eyebrow growth. It’s considered “off-label” use in this case, because you’re using a product other than how the FDA approves it.
If you’re considering using Latisse as an off-label way to grow your eyebrow hair, talk to your doctor first to ensure you can safely use Latisse.
Doctors don’t know exactly how Latisse works, but they do have some theories.
One is that the medication helps to keep more hair follicles in the growth phase and stimulates hair follicles in the resting phase to move to the growth one.
Although the FDA hasn’t approved Latisse for use on the eyebrows, there are some clinical studies about its effectiveness and safety. These include the following:
- A 2016 study published in the journal Dermatologic Surgery followed 357 men and women with eyebrow hair loss who used either Latisse or a placebo once or twice daily for 7 months. At the end of the study, both groups who used Latisse experienced more significant eyebrow growth with few differences noted. Most participants reported noticing a difference versus the placebo after the second month of application.
- A small 2014 study published in the Dermatology Online Journal studied eyebrow growth in 10 female participants using Latisse. The participants applied Latisse to one eyebrow nightly for 6 weeks. At the study’s conclusion, the researchers found all participants experienced eyebrow hair growth. Participants didn’t report adverse effects.
- A literature review of studies regarding Latisse for eyebrows published in the journal Drug Design, Development, and Therapy reviewed six studies. The authors concluded that Latisse used for eyebrows was a “safe, effective, and well-tolerated option” to treat eyebrow hair loss.
While these studies show support for Latisse and eyebrow hair growth, there are many factors that can impact its effectiveness. These include how and how often you apply it and whether there are underlying causes for your eyebrow hair loss.
One of the major known side effects of Latisse is that it darkens the hair. For eyelashes, this is less of a concern since many people apply mascara to make their lashes appear darker.
However, if you have lighter eyebrows, Latisse could potentially make them much darker in appearance.
In the Dermatologic Surgery study, the most common adverse effects reported during the study were:
- upper respiratory tract infection
- skin itching
- runny nose
It’s not known whether these symptoms were all related to using Latisse or were isolated incidences.
According to the Latisse package insert (which is specific to eyelashes), the most common adverse reactions to Latisse are:
- eye itching
- skin darkening
- red or noticeable blood vessels in the eyes
Latisse manufacturers report these occur in about 3 to 4 percent of people who use Latisse.
A bottle of Latisse costs on average $224.50, according to the prescription drug pricing website GoodRx. However, GoodRx says the lowest price for Latisse is around $170.42 for a bottle, which usually lasts around a month.
Latisse can be an expensive but potentially effective solution for eyebrow growth. You must continually apply the Latisse to your eyebrows to continue seeing results.
Those who experience eyebrow hair loss can have difficulty finding a product to help regrow hair. Topical therapies used on the scalp for hair loss (such as minoxidil) aren’t FDA-approved for the eyebrows. However, some people may use these off-label to treat eyebrow hair loss.
One step to consider is talking to your doctor about your eyebrow hair loss. There are several underlying conditions that can cause eyebrow hair loss (which doctors call hypotrichosis). Examples of these conditions include:
Sometimes, a doctor may be able to identify one of these conditions as the underlying cause of eyebrow hair loss. By treating the underlying cause, you may experience increased eyebrow hair growth.
There are also over-the-counter (OTC) products that promise to help grow eyebrow hair. These are usually serums that contain components to condition or strengthen existing eyebrow hairs.
Ingredients for eyebrow growth serums include:
- fatty acids
These formulas aim to keep existing eyebrow hairs (and new growth) healthy. However, they don’t necessarily affect the growth phase like Latisse does.
Although it’s pricey, Latisse may be an option for treating eyebrow hair loss. But because it’s available only by prescription, you’ll need to ask your doctor if you can use Latisse off-label for eyebrow growth.
While serious side effects haven’t been reported from Latisse eyebrow growth use, it may not be a good fit for you. For example, if you have lighter-colored eyebrows, Latisse could darken them.