All Aflutter

Lash ConditionerMany of today’s savvy spa-goers understand the importance of creating a daily beauty routine that includes safe and effective products that help their skin and hair look younger and healthier. Yet even though full, lush eyelashes continue to be all the rage today, they don’t always receive the special treatment they deserve. Short, brittle, and sparse eyelashes are often caused by physical, chemical, and biological stressors—including age, hormonal shifts, poor diet, sickness, medications, and exposure to the sun—but with the help of a lash conditioner, eyelashes can appear healthier and more luscious within weeks. “Lash conditioners help stimulate lashes and brows at a cellular level, enhance follicle penetration of key ingredients, and improve the overall appearance and health of lash follicles,” says Samuel Alioto, president and CEO at MediNiche. And with regular use, lash conditioners can also protect eyelashes and brows from damage by providing hydration, “When you moisturize the lashes, you protect their health,” says Melissa Jansma, vice president of sales and marketing at Blinc. “At the same time, you continue to grow new lashes, leading to longer and thicker-looking lashes.”

With the growth of the eyelash category, companies are constantly working to develop new and innovative lash products that are safe for the eyelashes and eye area, while providing essential nutrients and benefits that leave eyelashes looking fuller, younger, and healthier. Because the eyelash growth category is now a billion-dollar industry, there are an abundance of products on the market that claim to improve the appearance of eyelashes. Therefore, it’s more important than ever to take note of what’s inside lash-conditioning products and how the ingredients can benefit eyelashes on a short- and long-term basis. “Natural lash enhancers help to nourish the hair follicle so that it either continues to grow or grows thicker,” says Neal Kitchen, Ph.D., vice president of strategy and development and a member of the Scientific Board of Advisors for HydroPeptide. “This is beneficial for having fuller, lusher lashes.”

Star Ingredients

The eyelash growth cycle has three phases: anagen is the active growth phase, catagen is the transitional phase, and telogen is the resting phase. Eyelashes have a hair cycle of about 30 to 60 days. The ingredients in lash conditioners affect the anagen phase by increasing the duration and the number of hairs in the growth phase. “Lash conditioners are designed to extend the lash growth stage, while providing essential nutrients to feed the hair follicle,” says Scott Hoonakker, chief financial officer of PremierLash.Lash Conditioner

Some lash enhancers, including the prescription-only Latisse by Allergan, contain prostaglandins, which mimic hormones to stimulate growth in eyelashes and increase the duration of the anagen phase. While effective, these ingredients may produce some side effects including eyelid or iris discoloration, according to Kitchen. Due to these potential side effects, many manufacturers have developed formulas that include alternative (and safer) ingredients such as amino acids, peptides, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to nourish, condition, fortify, and improve the overall health and appearance of eyelashes throughout the duration of the eyelash cycle. According to Alioto, there are three important ingredients to look for in an effective lash conditioner: peptides to help up-regulate the androgen receptor and stimulate the follicle to grow; hydrating ingredients to keep the eyelashes supple and healthy so they do not break; and mild exfoliants to clear the buildup of dead cells at the base of the lash around the follicle, allowing room for a thicker hair to evolve and giving the lash conditioner better access for absorption.

Growth Factors

Most lash conditioners contain some form of peptide. HydroPeptide Lash, for example, features myristoyl pentapeptide-16 (SymPeptide-235), which helps stimulate natural hair growth by counteracting inhibitory effects on hair follicle development and addresses pigment loss in hair; myristoyl pentapeptide-17 (SymPeptide-226), which helps to increase keratin genes that promote hair growth; and biotin, a B vitamin that promotes healthy hair growth, protects against dryness, and thickens the cuticle for fuller-looking eyelashes and brows. It also includes folic acid, which helps maintain healthy hair, nails, and skin.

Improving collagen and elastin in the skin also helps encourage eyelash growth, which is why hexapeptide-11, the key ingredient in Lash Advance, is effective. It is a bio-fermented peptide derived from yeast that improves collagen and elastin production, enhances elasticity, and helps to convert shorter eyelashes and brows into healthy, mature hair. Lash Advance also contains sugar beet betaine, which stimulates the production of collagen in the skin and helps strengthen the areas where the hair bulb resides. “Enhancing the energy cascades of the hair bulb improves the ability of the hair to function during the anagen cycle of the hair fiber,” says Alioto.

Breaking Point

Polypeptides, which are comprised of beneficial amino acids, help protect against breakage and support fuller-looking eyelashes. In addition, proteins like rice and soybean oil also strengthen and condition eyelashes. Soybean oil, which is found in RapidLash, is rich in vitamin E and phytosterols. It ensures a powerful, protective barrier against harmful free radicals, and provides a level of resistance against the appearance of aging. It also imparts sheen and luster to eyelashes, making them appear lush. Similarly, amino acids help replenish the building blocks of eyelashes by boosting the protein structure and helping them appear fuller and healthier, Pumpkin seed extract, which contains a high level of zinc—as well as amino acids, essential fatty acids, phytosterols, and vitamins—also enhances the appearance of eyelashes.

Critical Condition

Lash conditioners also work to strengthen eyelashes by moisturizing them with hydrating ingredients, according to Dasha Saian, cofounder and vice president of Saian Natural Clinical Skincare, which produces Saian Dasha Lash. For example, panthenol, which is found in RapidLash, is a natural humectant and helps coat the eyelashes and seal in moisture and nourishment. Lash Advance contains peony extract to strengthen the hair shaft; castor seed oil and glycoaminoglycans to soften brittle eyelashes; and green tea to protect eyelashes and brows from oxidative stress and UV radiation damage and provide soothing benefits. Hyaluronic acid is also a beneficial ingredient that helps to strengthen eyelashes by moisturizing and hydrating them.

In addition, exfoliating the hair follicle can help eyelashes appear thicker and healthier. Lash Advance contains extracts from apple, lemon, and sugarcane, which offer a natural, mild alpha-hydroxy-acid exfoliation that clears the follicle base of excess buildup of dead cells, allowing room for thicker hair to grow. These acidic features also help keep hair proteins stable and more resistant to breakage.

Bob Hobé, vice president of sales and marketing at JB Cosmetics, makers of LashFood, recommends that a lash conditioner feature ingredients like biotin, panthenol, peptides, and proteins. LashFood includes these ingredients, as well as arginine, an essential amino acid for hair growth; a copper complex for anti-hair loss; and natural plant and herb extracts to nourish eyelashes and counteract eyelash breakage and loss. “Lash conditioners are designed to enhance the appearance of lashes by infusing conditioning ingredients at the root,” says Hobé. “There are many different types of lash conditioners, and each provide different levels of benefits. The most effective natural lash conditioners contain peptides and a variety of botanical extracts.”

Play it Safe

Lash conditioners can enhance the look of eyelashes, but like any cosmetic product, they should be applied and stored properly to prevent any hygiene issues. Alioto recommends that lash conditioner users always apply the product to clean eyelashes and brows to minimize collecting debris on the wand, which might end up in the product tube. Also, it’s important to take note of the product’s expiration date for best efficacy and safety. In addition, Hobé recommends that users never share the product with anyone else, and be sure to place the applicator back in the bottle, keeping external contaminants away from the brush or applicator.

Trend Watch

Lash conditioners have experienced huge growth over the past few years, as they offer a safe and effective alternative to eyelash extensions. Not surprisingly, many companies are introducing new and innovative lash-conditioning formulas. Nicole Pigott, brand manager at RapidLash, for example, is seeing an increase in two-in-one products, like its RapidLash Eyelash and Eyebrow Enhancing Serum. The company will also be developing eyelash and brow color cosmetic formulations that contain eyelash- and brow-enhancing ingredients. Also, Blinc has developed a solution to a common issue with many lash conditioners. “Most lash conditioners or primers are white,” says Jansma. “People often complain that the white is hard to cover when mascara is being applied over a conditioner, so we created a black primer. Problem solved.”

With the wide range of lash conditioners currently available on the market, and the introduction of new-and-improved formulas, fuller- and healthier-looking eyelashes can be achieved in the blink of an eye.

Infuse clients’ lashes with these nutrient-rich conditioners that hydrate and nourish.

1. Amber Products Lash & Brow Growth Serum: Lengthen lashes and thicken eyebrows with this treatment containing apple stem cells, which encourage hair to grow thicker and longer.

2. Blinc Black Lash Primer: Protect lashes from damage and environmental stresses with a tinted primer consisting of added vitamins and nourishing ingredients that provide long-lasting moisture.

3. Grande Naturals GrandeLash-MD: Infused with a blend of amino acids, peptides, and vitamins, this clinically tested eyelash conditioner promotes longer, fuller, and thicker lashes.

4. Jane Iredale PureLash Lash Extender & Conditioner: Extend the wear of mascara with this conditioning primer that prevents splitting and breaking
and adds volume to lashes.

5. LashFood Natural Eyelash Conditioner: Made with gingko biloba and soy protein, this conditioner works at the cellular level to promote the appearance of longer, thicker lashes.

6. Lira Clinical Pro Lux Lash: Formulated with organic botanicals, plant stem-cell technology, and advanced conditioning peptides, this powerful lash-enhancing serum encourages growth.

7. Marini Lash Eyelash Conditioner: For natural, healthier looking eyelashes, this unique blend of peptides delivers dense and lush looking lash results, without long-term irritation.

8. NovaLash Lash+Doctor: Formulated with a powerful revitalizing complex enriched with multivitamins, natural plant extracts, and peptides, this scientifically advanced treatment conditions, strengthens, and visibly lengthens for a naturally youthful appearance.

9. PremierLash Healthy Lash and Brow: Formulated with proven pentapeptides to strengthen and nourish on a cellular level, this concentrated blend of antioxidants, fruit extracts, and vitamins hydrates and conditions damaged lashes resulting in healthier,
fuller natural lashes.

10. RapidLash Eyelash Enhancing Serum: This serum composed of minerals, moisturizing agents, peptides, and vitamins all work together to strengthen, hydrate, nourish, protect, and enhance the look of lashes.

11. RevitaLash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner: Designed to address brittle, weak, and thin lashes, this eyelash conditioner improves flexibility and adds shine.

12. Xtreme Lashes Amplifeye Lash & Brow Fortifier: Utilizing a liposomal delivery system, this amino acid-rich formula contains botanical extras, peptides, and vitamins to condition, strengthen, and prevent premature eyelash and eyebrow loss for longer and stronger lashes.