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When a German company called SA3 asked me to test their eyelash growth product, SA3 Magic Lashes (approx. $48), I was eager to try as it was prostaglandin free and I rather fancied the idea that the Truth In Aging store had tracked down a safe and effective lash grower all the way from Germany. Alas, it was not to be.
It all started well. My eyelashes grew. In fact Magic Lashes lived up to its name with mine growing like weeds within a few weeks. I happily assumed that my prostaglandin-free product was safely effective as a result of biotin (widely believed to grow hair, although there’s not much science to back it up) and myristoyl pentapeptide-17, which appears in many other prostaglandin-free eyelash growth products.
But then I did a deeper dive into the ingredients, in particular Black Sea rod oil. I discovered that this is touted as a ‘natural’ prostaglandin and it has started turning up in quite a few eyelash growth products. So what is it and is it any safer?
Before I answer that, a quick reminder of what prostaglandins are. Prostaglandin analogues are a mainstay in the treatment of glaucoma, a disease of the eye. Somewhere along the line it was discovered that patients experienced a side effect: long eyelashes. Unfortunately, there are other side effects. They can darken the color of the iris (blue eyes can literally turn brown), cause swollen retina and blurry vision, red/brown rings around the eyes, redness in the eyes, itchy lids and general irritation.
So you can see why I was keen to avoid prostaglandins. Now what of Black Sea rod oil? It’s a kind of coral that grows in the Caribbean (not the Black Sea) and it contains a bioactive lipid prostaglandin. And lot’s of it — about a million times more than any other organism. But on mammals it acts as a muscle relaxant, induces labor and causes nausea and vomiting. At this point I was feeling a little uneasy.
Then I had another thought. Coral. Isn’t coral endangered due to global warming, pollution and fishing? Should a coral species really be harvested for a cosmetic under these circumstances? My unease was gathering. Then I came across a press release saying that the Cayman Islands (that well-known tax haven) has given a special dispensation to a cosmetic company called Maxeylash Island Girl to harvest this Black Sea Rod Oil. A good reminder that coral is protected and taking it is forbidden.
At that point, I threw my tube of Magic Lashes in the trash.