Enhance Eyelashes NaturallyApril 2016
By Robert Goldfaden and Gary Goldfaden, MD
Aging can take a heavy toll on the eyelashes, making them noticeably thinner, shorter, and more brittle. Many people resort to commercial products to create an illusion of improvement, but they fail to address the underlying causes.
Current treatments include drugs originally developed to treat glaucoma.1 The hefty price tag and side effects associated with these drugs prompted scientists to search for safer alternatives.2,3
In this article, you’ll learn how scientists uncovered natural compounds that work in complementary ways to protect and strengthen the structural foundation of eyelashes—naturally making them healthier, longer, and thicker.
Getting to the Root of Eyelash Growth
Stem cells are responsible for the constant self-renewal and repair of the skin. They have the unique ability to either remain a stem cell or transform into a specialized cell type through cell division.4 Research shows that stem cells reside at the base of each hair follicle where they facilitate hair regeneration.5 These are referred to as hair follicle stem cells.
Each eyelash follicle rotates through the same three stages of growth as other body hair follicles. The first stage (anagen) is the growth phase that lasts roughly one to two months.6 It is characterized by stem cells giving rise to specialized cells called keratinocytes with two main functions: 1) producing the hair shaft visible above the skin, and 2) synthesizing the tough and fibrous protein keratin that adds fullness, length, and strength to the hair shaft.7-9
As the eyelash follicle enters the second or transitional stage (catagen), which lasts approximately two weeks, it begins to shrink and hair growth ceases. In the third and final stage (telogen), the eyelash follicle becomes active once again, producing new hair that emerges from the skin’s surface by pushing out old hair to shed naturally. Telogen is the longest phase for eyelashes, lasting around four to nine months.6
As a person ages, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation compromises the regenerative capacity of hair follicle stem cells.10 Keratin production also diminishes in hair follicles.11 Together, these age-associated changes lead to the outward appearance of weak, thin, and short eyelashes.
Fortunately, scientists have uncovered compounds that effectively target these changes to improve the appearance of eyelashes.
Novel Plant Extract Safeguards against Ultraviolet Radiation
Ultraviolet radiation induces oxidative stress in hair follicle stem cells that reduces their vitality and activity, in turn diminishing the health and longevity of the eyelashes.12,13 Scientists began investigating safe and effective compounds that protect hair follicle stem cells against the consequences of sun exposure. Plant stem cells derived from a rare grape variety quickly stood out.
Gamay Teinturier Fréaux grapes grow in an east-central region of France. They have red flesh and juice that signifies a high content of anthocyanins, flavonoids that combat oxidative stress through potent free radical scavenging activity.14,15 The unique synergy between anthocyanins and other metabolites present in the grape provides frontline defense against ultraviolet damage.16
The capacity of stem cells to form colonies, known as colony-forming efficiency, is a key measure of their vitality and activity. Ultraviolet radiation has been shown to decrease colony-forming efficiency. Researchers conducted a laboratory experiment in which skin stem cells were treated with or without grape stem cell extract before exposure to ultraviolet radiation. While untreated cells experienced a 58% decrease in colony-forming efficiency, no changes were seen in treated cells. This demonstrated that treated cells were safeguarded against harmful ultraviolet radiation.16
Let’s now take a look at how a recently developed peptide significantly enhances eyelash growth.
Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 Stimulates Eyelash Growth
The formation of keratin in the anagen phase is essential for eyelash growth and density. With advancing age, this process fails to run smoothly.11 To combat age-related decline in keratin synthesis, scientists developed a peptide called myristoyl pentapeptide-17. It has been shown in laboratory experiments to increase the expression of keratin genes by up to 160%, thereby boosting keratin production.17 This has translated into striking results in human clinical studies.
In a recent trial, 15 human volunteers ranging in age from 24 to 82 applied an eyeliner serum containing myristoyl pentapeptide-17 to the roots of their lashes. The researchers used computer-assisted image analysis software to assess eyelash characteristics. They observed a 25% increase in eyelash length and thickness in just 14 days!17
Even more impressive, another study revealed that participants applying an eyeliner serum with myristoyl pentapeptide-17 to the target area increased eyelash thickness and length by 72% after six weeks. Both studies reported no adverse side effects.17
Glycoproteins Support Hair Follicle Formation
Glycoproteins are large molecules composed of carbohydrate and protein. They form a vital part of the extracellular matrix that provides a proper environment for the development of new hair follicles. In fact, research indicates that glycoproteins act as powerful chemical messengers between the layers of the skin to jumpstart eyelash growth.18,19
Panthenol Exerts Powerful Moisturizing Effects
Panthenol has been a mainstay ingredient in hair products for the past two decades and for good reason. It is a derivative of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), a vital component of coenzyme A that assists in metabolic functions such as protein and lipid synthesis. Panthenol is converted into pantothenic acid in the hair shaft where it effectively binds water molecules, thereby improving eyelash moisture.20
Current treatments to improve aging eyelashes come with a steep price and substantial side effects, making them an unattractive option for many people. Fortunately, scientists have identified a network of complementary compounds, including a novel plant extract, myristoyl pentapeptide-17, glycoproteins, and panthenol, which protect and strengthen hair follicles to naturally deliver healthier, longer, and thicker eyelashes.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.
Gary Goldfaden, MD, is a clinical dermatologist and lifetime member of the American Academy of Dermatology. He is the founder of Academy Dermatology in Hollywood, FL, and Cosmesis Skin Care. Dr. Goldfaden is a member of Life Extension®’s Medical Advisory Board. All Cosmesis products are available online.
- Law SK. Bimatoprost in the treatment of eyelash hypotrichosis. Clin Ophthalmol. 2010;4:349-58.
- Alm A, Grierson I, Shields MB. Side effects associated with prostaglandin analog therapy. Surv Ophthalmol. 2008;53 Suppl1:S93-105.
- Hollo G. The side effects of the prostaglandin analogues. Expert Opin Drug Saf. 2007;6(1):45-52.
- Blanpain C, Fuchs E. Epidermal stem cells of the skin. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2006;22:339-73.
- Ohyama M. Hair follicle bulge: a fascinating reservoir of epithelial stem cells. J Dermatol Sci. 2007;46(2):81-9.
- Jones D. Enhanced eyelashes: prescription and over-the-counter options. Aesthetic Plast Surg. 2011;35(1):116-21.
- Lavker RM, Sun TT, Oshima H, et al. Hair follicle stem cells. J Investig Dermatol Symp Proc. 2003;8(1):28-38.
- Yano K, Brown LF, Detmar M. Control of hair growth and follicle size by VEGF-mediated angiogenesis. J Clin Investig. 2001;107(4):409-17.
- Roh C, Tao Q, Lyle S. Dermal papilla-induced hair differentiation of adult epithelial stem cells from human skin. Physiol Genomics. 2004;19(2):207-17.
- Ruetze M, Dunckelmann K, Schade A, et al. Damage at the root of cell renewal--UV sensitivity of human epidermal stem cells. J Dermatol Sci. 2011;64(1):16-22.
- Giesen M, Gruedl S, Holtkoetter O, et al. Ageing processes influence keratin and KAP expression in human hair follicles. Exp Dermatol. 2011;20(9):759-61.
- Tower J. Stress and stem cells. Wiley Interdiscip Rev Dev Biol. 2012;1(6):789-802.
- Trueb RM. Oxidative stress in ageing of hair. Int J Trichology. 2009;1(1):6-14.
- Georgiev V, Ananga A, Tsolova V. Recent advances and uses of grape flavonoids as nutraceuticals. Nutrients. 2014;6(1):391-415.
- Lila MA. Anthocyanins and human health: an in vitro investigative approach. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2004;2004(5):306-13.
- Available at: https://biogreenscience.com/file/clinical/Solar_Vitis.pdf. Accessed February 18, 2016.
- Available at: http://beverlyhills-md.com/pdfs/SymPeptideforEyelash0909.pdf. Accessed January 4, 2016.
- Li J, Tzu J, Chen Y, et al. Laminin-10 is crucial for hair morphogenesis. Embo J. 2003;22(10):2400-10.
- Couchman JR. Hair follicle proteoglycans. J Invest Dermatol. 1993;101(1 Suppl):60s-4s.
- Trueb RM. Pharmacologic internventions in aging hair. Clin Interven Aging. 2006;1(2):121-9.