Back to Basics: Cargo Lash Activator Duo

For reference, my lashes are naturally reasonably long, thick, and mostly un-pigmented(What pigment there is, is a dull reddish brown, most visible at the roots. The length is mostly invisible without mascara). My lower lashes are QUITE long and thick as well. I have had allergies and damage to my hair, in the past, so I try to handle my lashes with that in mind. I wear Buxom Lashliner regularly for conditioning, avoid harsh makeup removers, rarely wear false lashes, and take care to not apply too much pressure curling lashes.

I’m always watching for new conditioning things though, due to a somewhat paranoid fear that my lashes will be as fragile as my hair, and I’ll have a hard time making them look presentable, like I do to my hair!  Plus, I have an instinctive desire to argue.  Anytime a beauty company has some claim like “double your lashes thickness in 30 days!” or “70% of women experienced noticeable lash growth”  or whatever the tag line is, I want to go, use the product, and then have the facts to snarkily rip them a new one.

I believe the Lash Activator and Lash Activator Night are both 35$ each.  You CAN get the sample duo for 15$ though, that has both(That’s what I did!).  Seems like a good way to try and see if the results are worth shelling out for the full products.  It IS nice that they’re available separately, in case you find yourself using one more than the other.  And the bottles last a fairly long time. I haven’t run out of either, yet!

Unfortunately, this review will not indulge my snarky argumentative side.  They actually WORKED for me fairly dramatically!

I believe that the sample duo I purchased is only available at Ulta, now.  My Pennies counter sephora said they believed it had been discountinued, but Ulta lists it online still.  I had such great results with this, I ended up purchasing the normal formula lash activator to use as a mascara primer.  It works very well in that usage, and my lashes have not lost ANY of the growth they gained while using Lash Activator.

I didn’t like it when layered with Benefit Bad Gal mascara, in the original review, but with creamier formulas such as Buxom, MUFE Smoky Lash, Hourglass Film Noir, it works very well indeed.  Also, with sparser bristled brushes like the Exceptionnel De Chanel, and Sephora Atomic Volume.  It really does depend on your mascara.  But it is well worth it.

Reference of my bare lashes, on 7/14, before beginning use of Lash Activator. Bare, and with Diorshow mascara

And my lashes after using the Duo for a month, on 8/14. Bare, and with mascara.

The Lash Activator is marketed both as a mascara, and as a lash growth treatment. It is a VERY opaque black, with a rubbery mascara comb brush.  It says it can be worn both on its own, and under mascara.

The Lash Activator Night is clear, so you can wear it in bed.  This might also be nice, if you dislike the look of the Lash Activator, or can’t layer it with your mascara.

The rubbery comb included in both products makes it very easy to get the product through the lashes.  It does NOT, however, separate the lashes, if you are trying to wear it on its own.  So your lashes just look stuck together by moisture.  For that reason, I do NOT recommend wearing it on its own, with your makeup looks.  You can see it in my second set of pictures above, some of the lashes sticking together, though that picture had been taken after I separated most of the clumps.

It takes a good 15-20 minutes to dry and soak into your lashes.  Not a big deal at night, but this might be a pain for those of you who put on your makeup in a hurry in the morning.  It’s made to be absorbed, so if you smudge it somewhere on your skin or eyelid, it DOES stain.  It will not neatly flake off when dry, like ordinary mascara mess-ups.

I tried it layered over mascara(benefit Bad Gal), and was less than happy with the results.  The mascara DOES separate it, so your lashes will look nice.  However, if you don’t wait till the product is dry, it’ll mess with the pigmentation. If you DO wait till the product is dry, the mascara over top will clump more, and require a gentler application.  And it decreases the wear.  A mascara that I normally wear 6-8 hours without incident, was shedding dry flakes after 4-5.  I genuinely prefer it on its own.  Especially as far as natural, or daytime appropriate makeup looks go.

This is it, nearly two weeks in, with no other mascara or cosmetics. Excuse my weirdly sparse brows.  It took me that long to get a picture of it without other mascaras layered, to show the formula on its own.

Here’s a slightly chronological summation of my experience with the Lash Activator, with pictures for length comparisons.

Week 1.  Ew.  Stuff on my lashes.  It’s wet.  Must. Not. Rub. Eyes.  Must. Not. Rub. Eyes.

I was somewhat irritated by it, and found myself counting down the days till I could just write, and post this darn thing, and call it good!  My lashes were already healthy and thick enough, so I doubted it would do very much.  Isn’t the improvement usually the most dramatic looking when there actually is more room for improvement?  I only lose a few lashes a week, and mine are on the better side of average.

Week 2.  I discover that my thickening mascara brushes(diorshow, Benefit bad gal) are all of a sudden clumping a LOT.  Insert swearing, more careful application, confusion over WHY they are all of a sudden acting so crappy!  The boyfriend says “Are you wearing falsies?  Your lashes look more prominent today.”  I examine, and decide that YES, the problem is that they HAVE thickened, and grown-and they weren’t problematically short before!  I also notice that the increased rubbing, applying, removal, etc. is causing me to loose lashes heavier than normal.  Normally lose 1-3 a week.  Now losing 3-5.  I’m assuming there’s a few I lost, that I didn’t see myself lose.

Week 3.  I’m a bit afraid to see where they are at the end, but I guess I should just be happy that I can deliver a good review of something that may be a cheaper solution than Latisse.  I made a mental note to update this post when the bottle runs out, so that it can be an idea of how long your money stretches with it!

I am eagerly looking forward to NOT applying it twice a day, and probably buying the Night formula full size, for conditioning and maintenance.  I still worry about how my mascara clumps over top AND bare, and I’m irritable to have mascaras that now only work on the lower lashline without clumping ferociously.

Loving my Exceptionnel De Chanel though.  Debating asking my boyfriend to help me decide the most romantic way to propose to it.  Decide his opinion is probably fairly useless, or would involve a Batman logo.  Roll my eyes, and vow to find a better makeup remover for the mascara that is now getting trapped in my lashes after using my two usual removers.  The new length is VERY thin and fragile feeling, and I’m still losing more lashes than I used to.   Halfway through week three, I’m irritated enough at the fragile looking growth, and heavier shedding to purchase a stronger conditioner/primer to see if that helps with the mascara, and helps stabilize this rainforest of growth.  Look at this though!

Week 4.  Whether it was the addition of Lancome CILS primer, or the growth just caught up with itself, my lashes have thickened through the length!  I’m losing them slightly less than  the last week, and the growth looks less fragile.  I’m a bit ashamed at the intricacy of my lash scheduling.  1. Wake up. Apply Lash Activator. Go to Work. 2.  Come home, remove lash activator, do makeup, using primer and normal mascara, and Buxom Lashliner and mascara.  3. Remove makeup, apply moisturizer and skincare routine, apply Lash Activator Night.  I officially spend as much time on my lashes, as on the rest of my face.  I can’t WAIT to simplify this.

My end feelings on this were fairly ambivalent.  I definitely wouldn’t do it without an additional conditioner, to help support the rapid growth.  It can get REALLY convoluted, really fast, trying to take care of your lashes through this. If you don’t mind that work, and are sensitive about your lash length/thickness, this seems like a more affordable option than Latisse, and a more healthy and cheap long term option than extensions.

It DOES definitely speed up growth and increase thickness!  So I can’t argue with the marketing claims.  Just be aware of the stress that the extra removal can place on your lashes, and pick out a good conditioner to supplement. And hope you have the right mascara!

The trial duo lasted me nearly 3 months before noticing it had dried to the point of being difficult to use.  My full size has easily lasted that, and has barely begun to thicken. It even works well on its own, now that it’s slightly thicker, so long as you use a creamy primer like LANCOME CILS booster under it.

Especially if your lashes are thin and fragile, lash activator will help.  All of my previous notes about taking care with makeup remover and rubbing still apply, but if you maintain using it every other day or so, after the initial growth, it DOES level out quite nicely.  I am back to losing my “Average” few lashes, and they are still thick, quite a bit stronger than before I began using this.

For the prices, this is a surprisingly awesome product.  Latisse is $80.  Lipocils is $50(at least).  Peter Thomas Roth is $80(if I recall).  This ireally is comparatively cheap, with surprisingly good results. I know $3o is a lot, but it is worth every penny.


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. dolcearia
    Sep 13, 2010 @ 10:43:18

    The post is long enough, so this will be my update. It’s been nearly two months, and my sample bottles are still strong. They’ve dried slightly, which actually makes it EASIER to apply, and control how much you do.

    The actual growth bottomed out around a month–at that point, they’d been on my lashes for the full hair growth cycle, so that’s where it would be! I haven’t had any issues maintaining that growth, yet, though I may when the sample bottle runs out and I find myself using only ONE of the duo.

    Either way, it DOES look like this product stretches pretty far, which is nice to see. It’s really NOT that expensive, considering that. Heck, I’ve had normal mascara samples last less.
    Good luck with it!


  2. Helena (XOXO Parisky)
    Dec 26, 2010 @ 13:08:00

    OMG! That really is a big change even though you already had long and thick eyelashes! 🙂


    • dolcearia
      Dec 26, 2010 @ 13:26:47

      Crazy, right?! I really NEVER expected those results, either! It’s a generally great product that actually DOES live up to its claims! As unbelievable as that sounds!

      I never felt my lashes were inadequate before, but I do have to admit that I LOVE them now. May make choosing mascara trickier, but even without mascara, I get FAR Less rain in my eyes at work, AHAHHAHAHA.


  3. Amanda
    Jan 23, 2011 @ 17:26:41

    I have somewhat of the same lashes. They are dark colored until they hit the tips! My tips are like a light blonde color that’s very hard to see unless i can get a coat of mascara on them. My problem is i can not get my mascara to coat the tips of my lash! For example it’ll coat the bottom and middle but for some reason i can not get ANY mascara to coat the tips of my lashes! So the result is me looking like i have short lashes. I don’t know why this happens, maybe it’s the applicators?? I mean is there like some kind of technique i don’t know of?? LOL


    • dolcearia
      Jan 24, 2011 @ 02:12:27

      What type of brush does your mascara have? Is it one of the really dense, pipe-cleaner ones? (benefit Bad Gal, Diorshow, etc.) Do you curl your lashes?

      I like sparser synthetic bristles for reaching EVERY lashes tip. (Buxom mascara, Laura Mercier Full-blown volume) There’s a few techniques you can use to get the color all the way to the tip. Some you may already do, but it’s worth mentioning!
      #1. Apply mascara to the tips of the lashes first, after curling them. After they’re well coated, you can apply to the base as normal. That will give a bit more control over the product on the tips, and help them appear thicker(it also works well with lengthening mascaras, or fiber mascaras, to get the longest lashes possible). I like to mostly close my eye, and then apply it. That way I’m ONLY getting the top part of the lashes, and they’re a little steadier.
      #2. Twist the brush as you are applying the mascara. This helps provide a continuous coat of color, and a motion that can comb the mascara more thoroughly through your lashes as you are applying it. Also, it can help separate them a bit more.
      #3. If all else fails, brute force. With thicker mascaras, I usually have to do this to get them through my lashes. I place the brush at the base of my lashes, and shut my eyes. This has a bit more pressure than what you usually use to apply the product. But it can help work thicker mascaras into your lashes. After a blink or two doing this, just touch up your coat with the usual technique, to make sure everythings separated. You should have an easier time pulling the color all the way up to the tips doing this. Really though, this is only for the densest, firmest of mascara brushes that won’t apply to thick lashes any other way! For the most part, I’d rather just get a better brush for my lash type.


  4. Ana
    Jul 17, 2011 @ 07:27:16

    Great review! I’ve bookmarked it to check how my progress matches with yours. I have quite thick, black lashes but still I wish they were a bit longer. I’ve never worn false lashes, and don’t want to; so I think I should be trying it in the first place!


    • dolcearia
      Jul 17, 2011 @ 09:37:47

      Thanks. I’m curious to see your progress—I’ve yet to hear from anyone who DIDN’T get results from Lash Activator. My growth has faded a bit, since I’m not wearing it regularly, so I keep meaning to grab the night formula, so I can put it on in the morning, to maintain the growth regardless of whether I’m wearing full makeup.


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