It was Frieda Pinto's eyelashes that drew me towards an ad for L'Oreal's New Lash Boosting Serum. They were thick and woolly, like shagpile. The Slumdog Millionaire star looked as if her lids were too heavy to open, let alone that she would ever bat those lashes. L'Oreal's message was far subtle. Talk about lashing out at Bollywood. I had to know more.

The first thing that is a bit confusing is that Boosting Serum seems to be called Renewal in the UK. Although the Boosting Serum can be bought alone for $14.99, it also comes in a kit with a "top coat" and a "primer". In addition, L'Oreal recommends using it with its Double Extend Lash Boosting Mascara. No wonder Frieda looks a little weighed down.

L'Oreal isn't quite marketing Lash Boosting Serum as an eyelash growth product. It doesn't boast an eyelash growth stimulating ingredient such as the prostaglandins of Lilash or Revitalash. Nor does it come with the fashionable peptides and botanicals of the non-prostaglandin alternatives like Hydropeptide. L'Oreal says it will prevent eyelashes from falling out when removing makeup. However, it does have a handful of actives that typically condition hair and may help it grow.

The closest thing to an active for eyelashes is panthenol, which when it penetrates into lower skin layers, is absorbed into skin cells and processed into pantothenic acid (commonly known as vitamin B5). Madecassoside is gotu kola, a plant used in Chinese medicine. It is an anti-inflammatory, but I haven't found much that associates it with hair growth. There are useful amino acids including arginine which, according a Japanese study, can protect the hair from the effects of chemical coloring, even bleaching. So it might be useful against all those pigments in mascara.

I am surprised to see sodium hydroxide. This is, however, a known irritant. Studies by the National Institute for Occupation Safety and Health found that this ingredient causes “Irritation eyes, skin, mucous membrane; pneumonitis; eye, skin burns; temporary loss of hair” and recommends that consumers prevent skin and eye contact.

Ingredients in Serum:

Aqua (Water), Alcohol Denat, Glycerin, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Phenoxyethanol, Panthenol, Polysorbate 21, Madecassoside, Acrylamides/Sodium Acryloyldimethyltaurate Copolymer, Methylparaben, Octyldodecanol, Isohexadecane, Sodium Hyaluaronate, Arginine, Serine, Citric Acid, Glutamic Acid, Polysorbate 80, Sodium Hydroxide, 2 Oleamido 1,3 Octadecanediol.