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12 August 2022

Adhesives 101 - Your Guide to Understanding Adhesive

Adhesives 101 - Your Guide to Understanding Adhesive

Understanding your adhesive is CRUCIAL to great retention and reducing the possibility of irritation. In this blog, we’ll be spilling the tea on what adhesive actually is and key safety precautions which will help you realize why high quality adhesives are so important for YOUR lash biz.

Time to put on your science hats friends! We’re getting nerdy today...

What is lash adhesive?

Learning about what your adhesive is actually made of is going to allow you to troubleshoot many of those dreaded retention or irritation issues. So grab your notebooks and get ready to solve all of your worst adhesive mysteries! Let’s go…

How does adhesive work?

The main ingredient in lash adhesives is cyanoacrylate, or C5J5NO2, if you’re all about chemistry. It’s classified as an acrylic resin that cures extremely quickly. Cyanoacrylate cures, a.k.a. reaches its strongest bond, by reacting to the hydroxyl ions in water. Meaning, your lash adhesive cures by reacting to moisture on the lashes (the bonding surface) as well as in the air. The amount of moisture in the air is called humidity, which you can measure by keeping a  hygrometer on your lash cart to ensure you remain in the safe ideal range of35-55%.

How to read your adhesive label

You might have found yourself in a headache attempting to understand all of those ingredient names on your adhesive label… Let’s simplify it! When you look at some adhesive labels, you’ll notice that there are multiple types of cyanoacrylates. An adhesive could include various cyanoacrylates to take advantage of their different characteristics and benefits. 

These are some common types of cyanoacrylate you could encounter:

  • Ethyl- common, versatile
  • Alkoxy- less prone to blooming, low odor, more flexible
  • Methyl- very strong, used for metals in pure form 
  • Butyl- and Octyl- used in the medical industry 

In addition, some filler ingredients may be included. These fillers could aid in stronger attachment, faster curing, more flexibility, to expand humidity/temperature range or even reduce adhesive fumes.

Is Formaldehyde freaking you out?

Here’s the deal. Formaldehyde isn’t actually an ingredient found in lash adhesive. Instead, it’s a byproduct of cyanoacrylate curing and degrading as time goes on. When formaldehyde is inhaled, most of it is broken down rather quickly. It’s then converted into carbon dioxide and exhaled. There are some health risks associated with formaldehyde, but these are found in cases of high concentration exposures. The most common health problems can include eye, nose or throat irritation. However, the amount of formaldehyde that could potentially come from lash adhesive is very low (we’re talking parts per million) and sometimes even undetectable. We get it, formaldehyde is a spooky word… But it is even found within many items that we use on a daily basis including paper towels, mattresses, clothing or fruits. 

Adhesive Safety

We’re just going to lay it down here… It is NOT normal for your client to have red, watery eyes after application. There is a lot of safety involved when working with adhesive to prevent this though… So strap in! The good news? We’re here to equip you with a comprehensive list to NEVER have to stress again that you’re missing a step. After reading this, you should have complete confidence in protecting you AND your clients while creating gorg lash sets! 

Adhesive Safety Shopping List:

  • One of the most significant irritation culprits are adhesive fumes, which is why we recommend the use of a  fume extractor when working so closely with adhesive. Fume extractors work to remove fumes in the air. It should be placed near your adhesive dot to minimize the chances of irritation.
  • If you’re struggling to reach a humidity between 35-55%, we highly recommend purchasing a  humidifier or  dehumidifierto stay within the ideal range. Working in 30% humidity or lower can result in irritation and even respiratory symptoms. No thank you! You’ll want to have a  hygrometer on your lash cart to constantly keep an eye on this.
  • Many masks only protect against germs and dust, even N95 approved masks don’t fight against vapors well enough. Search for a mask that will give you the vapor relief necessary to stay safe when constantly working with adhesive. 
  • Although  nanomisting, nebulizing, and  cleaning the lash line post application won’t replace the need for a proper humidity range, it will ensure instant curing of the adhesive and help remove any remaining irritants from the eye area. Which therefore will reduce the chance of irritation when the client opens their eyes. 
  • Last but certainly not least, adequate ventilation. To stay safe from adhesive fumes, never lash in a stale environment without air flow. 

Replacing Your Adhesive

Replacing your adhesive is an absolute necessity. During your lash service, you’ll want to switch out that adhesive dot about every 20 minutes, or as needed. When the adhesive begins to feel stringy or tacky, it’s time to toss that  adhesive sticker  and freshen up your tile with a new sticker and adhesive dot! Next up is replacing your adhesive every 4-6 weeks. This will be dependent on whether you’re a full time or part time stylist.

Prep & Application

Improper prep is one of the major faults leading to irritation and bad retention. We know y’all don’t want to see that dreaded day after text of “my lashes all fell out” or “why are my eyes so red and irritated?”. First up, always cleanse, rinse and dry the lashes prior to application. Ensure the lashes are completely dry because you should NEVER apply to wet lashes. Your next step will be placing those under eye patches which is where you want to take your time to be extremely careful. 

Did you know that improper placement of the under eye covering is another top cause of irritation? These reactions can sometimes be so severe that it appears to be an allergic reaction. Ensure that the patch and tape remains below the waterline throughout the entire application. It may take a few extra checks but trust us friend, this could save your client’s burning red eyes. Proper application is another MUST to stay aware of. Improper coating, isolation, attachment and distance from the lash line are all possible reasons for irritation. Extensions should never touch the skin but rather be placed about a credit card distance away from the lash line. During and after your application, fan away from you and your client to move adhesive fumes away from the eyes. 

WATCH OUT for Cotton-Based Products…

Now that you know all about cyanoacrylate, we’ll let you in on a little secret. It has an enemy… *Cue villain music* COTTON! Ensure that cotton or any cotton-based products are stored AWAY from your application area. When cyanoacrylate (your adhesive) gets on cotton, it creates a chemical reaction that can become hot enough to catch fire or smoke. We know your lash sets are hot… But let’s keep the actual fire out of the studio. 

Why are our adhesives the best?

The struggle is REAL to find your perf adhesive, which is why we have worked so hard alongside our chemist to formulate our lash adhesives. Now that you have a deep understanding of all things adhesives, let’s connect it together and help you discover how this applies to our product… We’re sure you’ll understand why our lash friends are OBSESSED with our adhesives and why we think you will be too!

Low fumes.

Adhesive fumes are one of the leading causes of irritation for both the artist AND client. That’s exactly why we’ve formulated our adhesives to have low fumes. We use Alkoxy cyanoacrylate and Ethyl cyanoacrylate to achieve this as they have lower fumes than the rest. Quiz time! Do you remember what other characteristics Ethyl and Alkoxy cyanoacrylate have? Scroll back up to “How to read your adhesive label” to check your answer! You got this. 

Always fresh.

Here at UA, we will NEVER sell an expired adhesive because well, fresh is best! When an adhesive expires, it can separate and create all kinds of retention probs… So we purposely manufacture our adhesives in small batches to ensure that your adhesive does NOT sit in our HQ for months and months before it makes its way to your studio. This way, you can stock up to 5 months worth of adhesive in your refrigerator and be confident that it’ll stay fresh. Remember, replace your open adhesive every month for best results.

Phew! That was a big day of “Adhesives 101”, friend… We hope you feel completely assured that you fully understand ingredients, how to use adhesive safely and why high quality adhesives are important.Try explaining some of this to a client today to help them understand all the ways you keep them safe! We’re so excited to share more with you in the next blog, but for now make sure you’re following us on:




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