Mary Kay

Lash & Brow Building Serum

0.15 fl. oz. for $ 38.00
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Brand Overview

Mary Kay’s claims for this product are carefully worded to stay in the cosmetic realm, which is good because this lash and brow serum doesn’t work like prescription-strength Latisse or other lash-growth products that contain drug ingredients. All this lightweight, brush-on serum can do is make skin around the lashline or beneath brows feel softer and smoother (and it will soften brow hairs, too).

There’s no research proving any of the ingredients in Lash & Brow Building Serum can stimulate hair growth, be it for eyelashes or brow hair. The conditioning agents this contains are nice, but in truth brows and lashes don’t need conditioning like the hair on your head. The latter is exposed to damage from heat and manipulation (combing, brushing, styling, shampooing) while eyelashes and brows don’t take that kind of daily abuse.

Mary Kay appears to be using an ingredient blend called Capixyl. This trademarked blend is said to reduce hair loss, among other traits, by reducing the activity of an enzyme (5-alpha reductase) that stimulates testosterone (a male hormone also present in women, albeit in smaller amounts) to its more potent form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It seems hair follicles on the scalp are sensitive to the effects of DHT, and ongoing exposure causes them to shrink. Eventually, the hair follicle atrophies and is unable to support a strand of hair. If this happens to enough follicles across your scalp, you’ll see gradual hair loss and notice the hair that remains has become finer.

The problem is twofold: there is no independent, peer-reviewed research supporting the hair growth claims that accompany Capixyl and, specific to this product, none of this has to do with how and why we lose eyebrow hair or eyelashes. Eyebrow hair loss can be due to many factors, from menopause to medications to skin disorders such as lichen planus. Its exact cause is uncertain (Sources: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, ePublication, April 13, 2012; and British Journal of Dermatology, January 2009, pages 75–79).

Eyelash loss, technically known as madarosis, has multiple causes, too, ranging from diseases to trauma (Sources: International Journal of Trichology, January 2012, pages 3–18; and Survey of Ophthalmology, November-December 2006, pages 550–560). Again, in most instances neither eyebrow nor eyelash loss is due to the same factors that cause hair loss from the scalp, which is one more reason why you won’t see regrowth from using this product.

Jar Packaging: No
Tested on animals: Yes

This gentle, fast-drying serum is powered by the Lash Response Complex a boost of a peptide, red clover extract and an amino acid blend that helps provide what lashes and brows need to stay healthy and strong.

Water, Butylene Glycol, Acetyl Tetrapeptide-3, Trifolium Pratense (Clover) Flower Extract, Betaine, Sodium PCA, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Serine, Threonine, Proline, Arginine, Glycine, Alanine, Lysine, Glutamic Acid, Sorbitol, Propylene Glycol, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Disodium EDTA, Dextran, Triethanolamine, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Propylparaben

Mary Kay At-A-Glance

Strengths: Most of the products are fragrance-free; packaging that keeps light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable during use; a handful of well-formulated moisturizers; very good eye-makeup remover; effective wrinkle filler; excellent cream blush and several other impressive makeup products.

Weaknesses: The overall collection is a mixed bag of exciting and disappointing products; several outdated moisturizers and cleansers; no AHA or acceptable BHA products; the CC Cream doesn't provide good enough UVA protection; some lackluster makeup products.

The last few years haven't been glamorous for one of the world's largest direct sellers of cosmetics. Mary Kay lost a lawsuit filed by TriStrata, the company whose founders hold over 100 patents on the use of AHAs in skin-care products. It was revealed that Mary Kay's former AHA products infringed on three of these patents, and, after some back-and-forths in court, Mary Kay ended up paying royalties of over $40 million (interest included) to TriStrata. Perhaps because they're still licking their wounds after this defeat, the company has not launched any new AHA products, and no longer sells the ones that were in question during the legal battle (Source: www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2006/04/03/daily26.html).

However, the company's spin on the issue of AHAs is that they no longer use them because skin-care technology has advanced. That's an interesting twist, but the fact of the matter is that AHA products, when well-formulated, are still considered advanced and capable of doing far more for skin than the alternatives Mary Kay has devised (including an at-home microdermabrasion scrub and products with vitamin C derivatives).

Although they're not a company for you if you are looking for exfoliants (though you should be looking for a good exfoliant), Mary Kay has recently developed a surprising number of excellent products. With over 1.6 million Mary Kay consultants selling products in 30 countries, this family-owned company (founder Mary Kay Ash passed away in 2001) has slowly been proving that they intend to remain competitive with the best of the best. A refreshing change of pace is the omission of fragrance from almost all of the products. Now that is what we call progress!

Despite its size and capital (wholesale figures were $3 billion in 2012), Mary Kay still has a lot to learn. For instance, although their guiding philosophy of empowering women is admirable, the assortment of products still leaves much to be desired. Yes, things are looking up, but there are several weak spots that keep Mary Kay from being in the same league as Avon, Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble (Olay), and Johnson & Johnson (Neutrogena, Aveeno, RoC). These include outdated cleansers, toners, and moisturizers, along with letdowns in products designed for oily, blemish-prone skin. The TimeWise product range has expanded considerably, and offers a few state-of-the-art products worthy of its name (although, as with all skin-care products, they're not going to turn back the hands of time and erase all signs of aging).

If improvements like those in Mary Kay's latest products were translated to the entire line, it would be standing much taller, at least as far as what current, substantiated skin-care research indicates is optimum for creating and maintaining healthy skin. As is, this is a line to approach with a keen understanding of what to focus on and what to avoid. One last bit of good news: Mary Kay offers well-packaged samples of selected products, either directly or from your consultant.

Unless mentioned otherwise, all Mary Kay products are fragrance-free.

Note: Mary Kay is categorized as a brand that tests on animals because their products are sold in China. Although Mary Kay does not conduct animal testing for their products sold elsewhere, the Chinese government requires imported cosmetics be tested on animals, so foreign companies retailing there must comply. This requirement is why some brands state that they dont test on animals unless required by law. Animal rights organizations consider cosmetic companies retailed in China to be brands that test on animals, and so does the Beautypedia Research Team.

For more information about Mary Kay, call (800) 627-9529 or visit www.marykay.com.

About the Experts

The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.

Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.

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