Hey, nice pair! Of eyelashes, that is. Guess what?! Nightlife’s newest secret weapon actually works above the neck, doesn’t require a surgical tune-up every decade and keeps your bank account looking pretty as well. An attractive alternative to some of the other procedures being modeled around town nightly by cocktail servers and female VIP hosts—breast augmentation, rhinoplasty, liposuction, extensions and little nips and tucks being among the most common—Latisse is letting cost-conscious ladies (and increasingly, men) stay competitive in an appearance-obsessed city and industry without putting anything into hock.
As an alternative to other lash treatments, Latisse beats out the laborious and expensive lash-extension applications, which are being performed at boutiques and spas everywhere. So what is it? The technical name is bimatoprost ophthalmic solution. And the quick and dirty story behind Latisse (endorsed in print and on TV by Brooke Shields) is that senior citizens using glaucoma drops were experiencing, as a side effect to their treatment, outrageous growth in their eyelashes. Smarty-pants chemists isolated the chemical that was having this effect and gave it its own application, giving patients longer, thicker, darker lashes that are actually theirs, not glued on. The active ingredient keeps growing lashes in puberty longer, so imagine a scrawny teenager sprouting to six feet tall over a summer. It’s like that. And I simply had to try it.
On March 1, 2009, Las Vegas Plastic Surgery’s own board-certified Dr. Jeffrey Roth, M.D., F.A.C.S., gave me my first prescription (media gratis) for Latisse. Yes, you need a doctor’s say-so. That’s because it’s not a lash conditioner (à la RevitaLash) but the only FDA-approved treatment for growing your own set; it’s medical, so you need supervision. I personally have (or rather, had) wispy, stubby, blond-tipped lashes. Not that it mattered; I’m not making my living by batting them at VIP bottle customers on a nightly basis. So glopped on the mascara, I did. But if I were, say, a go-go dancer, concierge or showgirl, I’d want to be in the eyelash business for sure.
“Especially in Vegas, where so many people are important in the glitz and glamour that is Las Vegas,” says Roth. “Basically, people expect people to look a certain way when you go into a club … and this is a little thing that really can pay off big dividends.”
For four months, you apply the drops to a brush and apply them to the eyelash hairline, visiting your plastic surgeon, dermatologist or doctor at the beginning, middle and end. Each prescription and bottle lasts about a month and costs anywhere from $125 to $150, though specials, like the $100 one Roth is currently featuring, do exist. After four months, you use it only a few times per week for maintenance so the bottles will stretch for two months or more. Worst-case scenario ($150 a pop), getting started will cost $600 for the four-month start-up and $600 for the eight remaining months of the year, or $1,200 for the first year, $900 each year after. As one who fears hospitals, surgery, needles and foreign objects implanted close to my heart and lungs, I’ll take the do-it-yourself drops.
Were I to stop using Latisse, I would eventually shed all the affected lashes and grow a complete set of normal ones again over about six months. The only lasting effects might be pigment changes in my eye, but only if I had a certain kind of hazel, and even then the chance is small. My grassy green irises have not changed, though I did have a terrible reaction to the treatment at the height of allergy season. So I went on for a week and off for a week, or every other day until the itchiness and redness subsided. It was worth it.
Near-instant gratification: Toward the beginning of my treatment, just when I was starting to feel my lashes tickle the lenses on my sunglasses, and when I could skip mascara during the day without my eyes looking bald, I attended a ladies’ retreat/staycation at a local boutique hotel. In terry-cloth bathrobes, we sipped champagne and talked everything from politics to beauty to men. As one woman ran her finger over her lash extensions to show how life-like they were—like the so many times I’ve been begged to feel a cocktail server’s new implants—I finally got to boast about my own new pair. I even let them touch!