I mentioned about a week or so ago that I have been having some success with Dermaquest's Dermalash and I was curious to know what the active ingredients might be since it doesn't use any of the glaucoma drugs that appear in some of the other eyelash growth products.

Dermalash's Eyelash Growth Promoter Complex is based mostly on plant extracts that, if I hadn't seen the evidence of them working with my own eyes, I would easily dismiss as not having a great deal to do with making eyelashes or even hair in general grow. The most convincing of them is tussilago farfara, commonly called colts foot or coughwort. This is a well-known expectorant, but it is believed to have an effect on hair growth (and hence appears in a fair few hair restoration products) because it contains cystine, an amino acid that is in keratin.

Next there is achillea millefolium, or yarrow. The evidence that yarrow helps hair to grow seems a bit thin. There is also chinchona succirubra, which is the rainforest tree from which quinine comes. Although Brazilians believe it can cure everything from cancer to a hangover, they don't seem to used it for lashes, eyebrows or any other follicles. Europeans, on the other hand, have used it as a hair loss remedy and also as a cure for alcoholism. My feeling is that they have been pushing it a bit far..

Dermalash also contains lactose from milk. This may be included on the grounds that milk equals calcium and calcium equals healthy hair and nails. The vitamin B family is associated with hair growth and Dermalash has biotin and inositol (B8). There are also a couple of anti-oxidants, such as acetylcysteine. And there is apigenin, which stimulates the blood vessels (generally believed to be a good thing for encouraging hair growth).

Whatever it is about these ingredients, or their combination, they do work and they do no evil to users or the planet (although many of the plants used by Dermalash also seem to share a common trait of being invasive weeds).