Fun fact: The first-ever mascara was invented in the 1830s, made of a mix of coal dust and petroleum jelly. Since then, we’ve seen all the trends: strip false eyelashes, individual extensions, and prescription and over the counter lash-enhancing serums (which have recently taken some heat for its potential side effects, including changing one’s eye color and causing fat loss around the eye). It could be why we’re going back to the basics.
Over the past few years, the most popular “lash-lift trick” on TikTok is, yes, petroleum jelly. The hack involves curling your lashes and applying Aquaphor lip balm in lieu of mascara. Now, with our history lesson, we know that people (mostly women) have been using this trick for hundreds of years, but what is Aquaphor actually doing to the eyelashes? Is it making your lashes grow longer — as some people on TikTok suggest — or is it just making them look longer? When it comes to eyelash health, is petroleum jelly better than mascara? We asked optometrist and eye specialist, Jennifer Tsai, O.D., to weigh in.
Does Aquaphor make your eyelashes grow?
@cara_loren If you haven’t tried this aquaphor on lash trick yet you must! #aquaphor #aquaphorlove #aquaphorkisses #aquaphorsavestheday #lashtrick #lashhack ♬ original sound – Cara Loren
The short answer is no. “Applying Aquaphor or any other petroleum-based ointment directly to your eyelashes is not a proven method for making them longer or thicker,” explains Dr. Tsai. “Aquaphor is typically used as a skin protectant and [ointment] and is not specifically formulated for promoting lash growth. It doesn’t contain peptides or bimatoprost,” a drug shown to promote lash growth, which we’ll get into. If you’re using Aquaphor on your eyelashes, it’s acting as a kind of eyelash conditioner. “It can help moisturize dry brittle hair,” Dr. Tsai explains. But it doesn’t impact the growth of the eyelashes.
Which ingredients have clinical evidence to support eyelash growth?
If we’re talking about ingredients that verifiably promote lash growth, we’re moving into medication territory. Bimatoprost (also known as prostaglandin analogs) is the class of drugs found in prescription eyelash-growth serums, like Latisse, which has been clinically proven to stimulate longer, thicker, and darker lashes. It works. We know because bimatoprost was originally formulated for glaucoma patients, to treat lower intraocular pressure. However, when it was discovered that extreme lash growth was a side effect of using this topical medication, it became commercialized.
Of course, Latisse is a prescription medication for a reason: It can cause side effects — primarily eye irritation — and it’s not for everyone. For example, for someone who loses their hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows as a result of chemotherapy, Latisse may be prescribed following the …read more