So Who's Batting 1000?: Allergan Latisse vs. Marini Lash

Even in the midst of a troubled economic climate, some beauty products seem more like investments than indulgences.  For instance, the new eyelash serums hold the potential for market-breaking growth.  In fact, for the first time in cosmetics history, a product can make your lashes grow in a manner that is substantiated by controlled, published, peer-reviewed studies (Allergan Latisse, $120.00 for a 1-month supply).  Yet, a cult classic and beauty editor favorite, Marini Lash ($160.00 for a 6 month supply, Amazon.com) still has what it takes to maintain a chunk of the market.  So how do these revolutionary treatments compare?  Read on…

Allergan Latisse will reportedly be available in the “first quarter” of 2009, i.e., presumably sometime in March 2009. In a published, FDA-reviewed clinical trial, 280 volunteers were selected. Approximately half of the volunteers used Latisse daily for 16 weeks; these volunteers’ eyelashes typically grew 25 percent longer, 106 percent thicker and 18 percent darker than those in the non-treatment (control) group. According to the New York Times, the review found that only 3.6 percent of patients experienced eye itching and red eyes and none had a change of eye color.  Pretty exciting stuff!  Expected to be sold for $120.00 US for a one-month supply, Allergan Latisse is anticipated by some reports to generate over $500 million this year.  The only caveat?  Although the FDA cleared the active ingredient in Latisse (lumigan, a prostaglandin analog) as perfectly safe and unlikely to cause glaucoma (a concern again renounced in Expert Opinion on Drug Safety), some cautious customers may still want to avoid prostaglandin or prostaglanoid use altogether.

Marini Lash provides a prostaglandin or prostaglanoid-free alternative.  Jan Marini, president and CEO of Jan Marini Skin Research, sums up the charm of her namesake eyelash serum best: “With Marini Lash, anyone can have thicker and lusher-appearing lashes without the substantial cost or warning labels that accompany the Latisse prescription product…Neither Marini Lash nor its companion product, Marini Mascara™ Performance Mascara, contain the glaucoma drug in Latisse that was developed by Allergan to treat a serious ocular condition.”  Indeed, Marini Lash does not contain bimatoprost (as it did in the original formulation), nor does it contain any other prostaglandin analogs.  The active ingredients are the peptides, which are believed to stimulate hair growth at the follicle, according to Dermatologic Clinics.

A point that needs to be clarified is that all peptides are not created equal.  Although certain short parathyroid hormone antagonist peptides (PTHrP) have been shown to stimulate epidermal cell and hair growth in mice, as documented in PNAS, and interest has been shown in designing peptides to mimic these peptides, Marini Lash contains only Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 and Myristoyl Pentapeptide-12, neither of which is a short PTHrP mimetic.  With that said, I could not find any peer-reviewed, published, independent studies documenting that Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 and Myristoyl Pentapeptide-12 stimulate hair growth.  However, Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc. has impressed me with its in-house research studies in the past, and so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have private documentation backing their choice of ingredients.

Despite the lack of mention of Myristoyl Pentapeptide-17 and Myristoyl Pentapeptide-12 in peer-reviewed scientific journals, I still like Marini Lash, and for two chief reasons.  One, after using the product for two weeks, my lashes grew!  The difference is subtle – but then again, I didn’t make the best test subject either, battling strep throat and incessant fevers from mono.  Other bloggers provide glowing reviews (and most likely healthier test subjects!), like Beauty Girl Musings (with impressive photos) and The Wall Street Journal Health Blog (no photos of Marini Lash results, only Latisse).

My second reason for liking Marini Lash is the cost.  As stated in an official press release of Jan Marini Skin Research, Inc., one tube of Marini Lash lasts about 6 months and is cheaper per tube, costing only $320.00 per year ($27.00 per month), whereas Allergan Latisse costs $1440.00 per year ($120.00 per month).  And given the fact that saving is in, Marini Lash is undoubtedly the most financially savvy way to grow longer lashes.  The only thing is, it may take substantially longer to grow lashes with Marini Lash (weeks to months) than Allergan Latisse, as peptides undoubtedly stimulate a hair follicle more slowly than prostaglandins bind in the hair root and cause hair growth (the exact physiology is unknown).

The bottom line?
Allergan Latisse:

  • is FDA approved for eyelash growth
  • has substantiated research backing in published journals
  • works faster than Marini Lash (full effects achieved after 1 month)
  • continued use may result in greater effects than with Marini Lash (this has not been documented)

Marini Lash

  • does not contain prostaglandins or prostaglanoids, so no risk of eye itching, irritation, or occasional change in eye color experienced with Latisse (< 2% of cases in clinical trial)
  • is considerably cheaper than Latisse (about $93.00 per month cheaper)
  • growth takes weeks to months, but each tube lasts about 6 times as long as Latisse
  • no prescription required

Personally, in the next 8 months, I am going to use Marini Lash for 3 months, switch to Latisse for 1 month, go back to Marini Lash for 3 months, and then (you guessed it) cycle back to Latisse for 1 month.  :-)  I’m saving $558.00 for cycling off Latisse, still getting exceptional eyelash growth on my months off from Marini Lash, and am looking forward to the possibility of trimming my new plush eyelashes!  ;-)

Product Rating Allergan Latisse:  9/10 (wins by a lash! ;-) ).  (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 3/3.  New technology or unique formulation: 3/3.  Value for the money: 2/3.  Sunscreen: N/A).

Product Rating Marini Lash:  8.5/10.  (High concentration of proven effective ingredients: 1.5/3 (-1 for lack of research backing, -0.5 for concentration).  New technology or unique formulation: 3/3.  Value for the money: 3/3.  Sunscreen: N/A).

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