Friday, May 29, 2009

The price of beauty

I was falling a sleep when I heard a late-night TV advertisement for Latisse, a drug to lengthen and darken eyelashes. At first I thought I must have misheard. Does this seem like a good idea to you.

Latisse, unlike many beauty drugs, does seem to work but:

* Nobody knows its mechanism of action (as stated here)
* Its known side effects are that it can cause eye swelling, and brown coloration of eyelids that is (probably) reversable and brown color change or the iris of the eye which is not reversible.

No, don't get me wrong, I think people with various disorders and complaint causing hair loss could benefit. Yes, Latisse is FDA approved but this does not mean it 100% safe, it means that it can help with a disease or disorder. The Latisse site says: "LATISSE™ is an FDA-approved prescription treatment for hypotrichosis used to grow eyelashes, making them longer, thicker and darker. Hypotrichosis is another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes."

But the advertisement I saw was clearly aimed at encouraging purely cosmetic use by people with normal but not enormous, eyelashes--not people with a disorder effecting their eyelash appearance. Unless anyone is suggesting Brooke Shields had hypotrichosis and beauty maven Anastasia is an expert in diagnosing this condition? Who would risk an unknown drug with weird side effects when the same effect can be produced with mascara? And is it responsible to run an expensive ad campaign encouraging them to take a prescription medication instead?

The FDA clearly has in mind that this drug be used to compensate for deficits in eyebrow appearance caused by a medical condition. Anastasia seems to have something rather less humanitarian in mind when she urges women: "If you're not happy with the lashes you were born with — and let's face it, many of us aren't — LATISSE™ is a great option that delivers real results."

The message is: want more, get more, imitate celebrities, follow the prescription advice celebrity beauticians, give us your money, take drugs you don't understand, hope you don't get sick. Only beauty is important. I am not at all surprise to see this is brought to us by Allergan, makers of Botox, wrinkle-filling injections and fake boobs. All of which have reconstructive surgey uses, but I doubt that is where the "real" money is made.


David Tulloch said...

Wow. These people are certainly trying to push the definitions of use ...

"LATISSE™ solution is a prescription treatment for hypotrichosis used to grow eyelashes, making them longer, thicker and darker."

That bit seems fair ... but then they add ...

"Eyelash hypotrichosis is another name for having inadequate or not enough eyelashes."

Not really the dictionary definition.

So basically, if you think your eyelashes are inadequate you have a medical problem ... the vast amount of eyelash product that gets sold each year would suggest many, many women think they have "inadequate or not enough eyelashes". Ergo ... almost every woman has a medical condition that this product can be prescribed for.

The "Eye Candy" section of the website is funny ... but only in a black humour kind of way.

Maureen said...

I saw this commercial for the first time this past weekend. I was disappointed that Brooke Shields endorses Latisse. I like her- but this product is ridiculous. I'm sure most people that actually buy this product don't have the "eyelash disease!" I can't imagine putting something like that on my eyes. Mascara is bad enough-

corrin said...

I have to admit that I've used a mascara that claims to thicken and grow eyelashes - and I did notice a difference.

ConnieFoggles said...

I'm sad to see that the company that makes this is the same company that makes a medication that I use. I wish pharmaceutical companies would spend their money on researching real medical problems.