Hello, and welcome to the first installment of Human Guinea Pig, in which the writer very scientifically* documents their experience with a product! For Science! And Beauty!
*(Okay, not that scientifically; but HGP is intended to show how a product performs over time.)
First up: Bimatoprost!
You may know bimatoprost by its expensive name, Latisse®. Lab Muffin has a great little summary of how bimatoprost works to lengthen, thicken, and darken lashes, but in short: all lashes grow, then sit, then fall out. Bimatoprost lengthens the growing phase (so lashes get longer) and creates a comparatively short fallout phase (so you have more visible lashes at any given time). It also makes each individual lash thicker and darker.
Latisse® used to be the “first and only prescription treatment approved by the FDA to grow lashes longer, fuller and darker for those with inadequate or not enough lashes,” but global capitalism is a thing and other countries started producing their own: Careprost, Actavis, Bimat. They’re all the same thing, though — 0.03% bimatoprost solution. (I went with Actavis, for literally no other reason than it’s manufactured in New Zealand and I’m a fan of Lord of the Rings.)
Bimatoprost was originally a glaucoma medication (Lumigan), until the manufacturer realized that the side effects (long, luscious lashes) could probably make them oodles of money–and thus Latisse® was born. Latisse® is (or is supposed to be) prescription only; though you can find it online without prescription, keep in mind that it IS an FDA-regulated drug with potential side effects.
Yup. You might have heard rumors that Latisse® could permanently darken your eyes. That’s … maybe vaguely sort-of true? Studies of Lumigan (bimatoprost drops applied directly to the eyeball) show that permanent darkening of the irises is a possible, if rare, side effect; but my favorite meta-study about bimatoprost applied topically to the lashline suggests that it’s extremely rare–of the 680 people from six randomized, double-masked clinical trials, only two reported any change in eye color, and I can’t personally see any difference in the ‘before and after’ photos attached to the study.
That’s not to say there aren’t side effects; to quote the same study, “common adverse events included conjunctival hyperemia, eyelid pruritus, blepharal pigmentation, nasopharyngitis, eyelid erythema, and punctate keratitis.” (In non-medical-speak, that’s pink or reddish whites of the eyes, itchy eyelids, purplish eyelids, common cold, swollen eyelids, and corneal inflammation.) But fear not: the study also notes that most of these symptoms “occurred early in treatment, were mild in intensity, localized to treatment site, and reversible with treatment cessation.”
Am I comfortable with the risks? Yeah.
(Other side effects may include marrying Hugh Dancy and getting cast in “Homeland.”) (Just kidding. I’m so funny.)
So… how much is it?
If purchased from an American doctor’s office or pharmacy, Latisse® costs about $120/bottle. I bought six bottles of the generic for $86.44 total ($71.44 + $15 s/h), which works out to $14.41/bottle. (A bottle of Latisse® includes 30 brushes; though the pharmacy kindly tossed a couple of brushes into my order for free, I bought 100 disposable eyeliner brushes on Amazon for $8.70.) Latisse® suggests that one bottle lasts one month; online commenters note that their fat brushes absorb and waste a lot of product, and that one bottle can be stretched for months if you just use a thinner brush.
Some thoughts on ordering foreign-manufactured prescription medication from a foreign country :
I value my eyeballs. Functional eyeballs > long lashes, always. I wasn’t going to order medication from India or Hong Kong without doing a boatload of research first; here’s what I found out.
Consuming foreign-manufactured medications:
The manufacturer of Careprost (Sun Pharmaceutical, an Indian company) is the fifth-largest manufacturer of generic medications, and about half their products are actually consumed within the USA. They seem to have a pretty good FDA record — a Detroit plant was closed back in 2009 for FDA violations, and they received a warning last year at one of their India manufactories. A company that massive which has only two problems over the course of several decades is a company I’m comfortable trusting with my eyes (and one I regularly trusted with the rest of my body, since they manufactured most of the medication I consumed while I was living outside the USA). Granted, I didn’t go with Careprost–but there were no Actavis scandals I could find, either.
Ordering from a foreign pharmacy:
I was SO worried about receiving counterfeit drugs or having my payment information stolen by a sketchy “Pharmacy.” Given that the internet is a hive of scum and villainy, how’s a girl supposed to know which online pharmacies can be trusted?
Well, I checked bodybuilding forums. People who use steroids are really, really particular about their imported drugs–they send them to independent labs to verify they’re the real deal; they test their own bloodwork after injection; they obsessively track body changes. I searched through all forums/threads on three different bodybuilding websites looking for criticism of this particular pharmacy; while there were some gripes about slow shipping times, exactly zero users of the many who reported ordering from All Day Chemist had received counterfeit drugs or had their financial information stolen in the process. (For the record: bodybuilders are not shy about calling out bad pharmacies. Lots of rage.)
All Day Chemist requires a prescription (though the aforementioned bodybuilders had some tips on getting around that). I am a Good Girl, so I actually got a prescription from my doctor.
(The conversation went like this:
Derm: “Anything else?”
Me: “Yeah. Can I get a script for Latisse?”
Derm: “Sure. What size bottle, and how many refills?”
Me: “Generic 300ml bimatoprost is fine. Maybe three?”
Anyway, I paid on January 16th via eCheck, had a tracking number by January 19th, and received my package on January 31st. Not too shabby! (Note: ADC does not accept credit cards or PayPal; their only payments options are a mailed check/money order, or an eCheck.)
Before : For Refence
These are my lashes, Day 0. They keep stuff out of my eyeballs, which is great. They’re also not as long or thick as they used to be, which is less great.