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Last updated: Sep 03, 2021
5 min read

Latisse for eyebrows: does it work, how to apply, side effects

steve silvestro

Medically Reviewed by Steve Silvestro, MD

Written by Tobi Ash, MBA, RN, BSN

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Eyebrows are an important part of your face. They help to give expression and animate your features, and a change in your eyebrows can change your overall look in pretty dramatic ways. That’s probably why more than 80 million people in the United States used eyebrow pencils in 2020 to enhance and thicken their brows (Statista, 2021). 

If you’ve been noticing that your eyebrows have thinned out or are missing parts, you might want to think about using Latisse.

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What is Latisse?

Latisse or 0.03% bimatoprost ophthalmic solution is a prescription-only eye drop originally developed to treat glaucoma. Ophthalmologists noticed that people who used the eye drops often grew longer and more luxurious lashes. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Latisse for use on the upper eyelids for sparse eyelashes in 2008 (FDA, 2008).

While there isn’t an FDA approval for Latisse to regrow eyebrows, studies say it may help grow thicker and fuller brows. Some healthcare professionals and dermatologists use Latisse off-label for eyebrow growth. Off-label is when a provider uses an approved medicine for an unapproved use because they recognize an obvious benefit for their patient (FDA, nd). 

How do you apply Latisse for eyebrows?

Applying Latisse to your eyebrows is simple. You apply it around bedtime after doing your nightly skincare routine. 

Latisse comes in a small bottle that looks like an eye drop container. You squeeze a drop onto the provided Latisse applicator. Apply Latisse to your eyebrows using a combing and sweeping motion. Alternate brushing on your brow hairs to make sure you give them equal amounts of Latisse (Gilmer, 2020).

How does Latisse work for eyebrows?

The exact mechanism of how bimatoprost works to grow hair is not really known. One theory is that bimatoprost helps keep more of your hair follicles in a growth phase and simultaneously stimulates hair follicles in the resting state to shift to the growth phase (Carruthers, 2016).

While there’s much more research on how Latisse works for lengthening eyelashes, there are a few small clinical studies on how well it works for eyebrows. 

One study measured the effects of 0.03% bimatoprost for 20 people over nine months. This double-blind study showed significant changes in eyebrow hair growth with almost no side effects (Beer, 2013).

A second study looked at using Latisse for a shorter period. Here, 10 women used Latisse on one eyebrow for six weeks. All of the participants showed eyebrow growth in the Latisse eyebrow. Once the six weeks were up, all the participants used Latisse on their other eyebrows to even out their look. No adverse effects were reported by any of the participants (Vergilis-Kalner, 2014).

A double-blind study looked at how Latisse worked for eyebrow loss in 357 men and women over seven months. Some study participants received bimatoprost ophthalmic solution once a day, others twice per day, and others a placebo. At the end of the second month, it was apparent how well the Latisse worked. While the overall goal was thicker brows, researchers also noted fullness, darkness, and participant satisfaction with Latisse. There were very few side effects reported (Carruthers, 2016).

A more recent study looked at using a lower dose of bimatoprost. Here, 40 participants used 0.01% bimatoprost solution on their eyebrows for six months. There was significant eyebrow hair growth and very few side effects. Researchers concluded that this treatment works well for sparse eyebrows (Suchonwanit, 2019).

Possible causes for thinning eyebrows

These results of Latisse for eyebrows sound fantastic, especially if you’re currently suffering eyebrow hair loss. However, you may need to speak to a healthcare professional to see if there are any underlying causes for your eyebrow hair loss, as there may be more effective ways to stop the loss and prevent it from returning. 

Several conditions cause eyebrow hair loss, including damage to the eyebrows from over-tweezing, chemical burns, or skin issues. Some people have autoimmune disorders like alopecia areata or nutritional deficiencies like missing iron, zinc, or biotin (a B vitamin). Others may have endocrine or thyroid disorders that cause hair loss. Those will need to be addressed before or after starting Latisse therapy (Chanasumon, 2018).

Latisse side effects

The Latisse insert explicitly written to treat eyelashes says the most common side effects are mostly found in the eyes. These occur in about less than 4% of the people who use Latisse (Allergan, 2012):

  • Itching
  • Redness or visible blood vessels
  • Skin darkening

Latisse side effects differ when used on the eyebrows. There was no skin darkening, eye itching, or eye redness noted in studies for eyebrow use compared to using Latisse for eyelashes. In one of the more extensive studies, the most common side effects were (Carruthers, 2016):

  • Runny nose
  • Sinusitis
  • Skin itching
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection

Researchers couldn’t determine if these side effects were directly caused by using Latisse or because of other reasons. Nevertheless, all the research studies and a literature review of Latisse for eyebrows suggest that Latisse is safe to use for eyebrow hair growth when you follow the directions (Chanasumon, 2018).

How long do the effects last?

According to the few studies available, using Latisse for seven to nine months increases eyebrow fullness. As long as you continue to use it, you should be able to maintain eyebrow thickness. If you miss or skip an application, don’t double up. Continual use gives thicker and longer brows.

Raise your brow game

Latisse could be an effective way to help you regrow your brows. However, you may have a condition that causes your eyebrow hair loss. Please speak with your healthcare professional to determine the cause and whether Latisse is suitable for you.

References

  1. Allergan. (2012). Latisse package insert. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/022369s005lbl.pdf
  2. Beer, K. R., Julius, H., Dunn, M., & Wilson, F. (2013). Treatment of eyebrow hypotrichosis using bimatoprost: a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled pilot study. Dermatologic Surgery: Official Publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al] 39(7):1079-87. doi: 10.1111/dsu.12199. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23617229/
  3. Carruthers, J., Beer, K., Carruthers, A., Coleman, W. P., 3rd, Draelos, Z. D., et al. (2016). Bimatoprost 0.03% for the treatment of eyebrow hypotrichosis. Dermatologic Surgery: Official Publication for American Society for Dermatologic Surgery [et al.], 42(5), 608–617. doi: 10.1097/DSS.0000000000000755. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5414776/
  4. Chanasumon, N., Sriphojanart, T., & Suchonwanit, P. (2018). Therapeutic potential of bimatoprost for the treatment of eyebrow hypotrichosis. Drug Design, Development and Therapy, 12, 365. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S156467. Retrieved from  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29503529/
  5. Gilmer, E. (2020). Does Latisse work on eyebrows at all. Skin Solutions. Retrieved from https://blog.skinsolutions.md/does-latisse-work-on-eyebrows/
  6. Statista. (2021). US: usage of eyebrow pencils. Statista[Internet]. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/275675/us-households-usage-of-eye-brow-pencils/
  7. Vergilis-Kalner, I. J. (2014). Application of bimatoprost ophthalmic solution 0.03% for the treatment of eyebrow hypotrichosis: series of ten cases. Dermatology Online Journal, 20(6). doi: 10.5070/D3206022868. Retrieved from https://escholarship.org/uc/item/1mc5v5mx
  8. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (2008). Drug approval package. Latisse (bimatoprost ophthalmic solution), 0.03%. Retrieved from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2008/022369_latisse_toc.cfm
  9. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). (nd). Understanding unapproved use approved drugs. 
    Retrieved from https://www.fda.gov/patients/learn-about-expanded-access-and-other-treatment-options/understanding-unapproved-use-approved-drugs-label