What is Cyanoacrylate?
This post is meant to educate consumers on the chemistry and product formulations used in Borboleta Beauty. I translate the science so you can best know how to care for your products and make smart choices.
A few months ago I got sodium hydroxide in my eyes, which is a very strong base known for causing blindness. It wasn’t until then that I truly came to appreciate my vision. I remember thinking, “This is it. I am going to be blind.” After that I promised I would take better care of my eyes, if I could just have my vision. I was so very blessed and had a full recovery. But since that experience I am particularly careful about what gets near my eyes.
Though few have had this experience with strong chemical eye burns, we all need to be cautious with chemicals near our eyes. Lash extensions have made it so many women can have beautiful and full lashes for extended periods of time. It has made women more confident and saved them valuable time. One of the biggest concerns, however with lash extensions is the lash adhesive. Many misconceptions and stories have been shared to create great concern and anxiety about the safety of the glue. The best way to put those concerns to rest is through proper education. The active ingredient in all lash adhesives is some form of cyanoacrylate. Cyanoacrylate is the sticky part of the adhesive – what makes the lashes actually adhere to your natural lash. It is very effective and solidifies fast, making it perfect for lash extension use. Understanding how cyanoacrylate works will help lash artists make the most of their glue and take the best care of their clients.
Cyanoacrylate is composed of monomers or small molecules when in liquid form. When these monomers are exposed to water they polymerize and turn into a solid. This process is a chain reaction and can be thought of like dominos: a finger pushes on one domino, and all the other dominos fall down. Water triggers the cyanoacrylate reaction. The water’s the finger, and the monomers are the dominos. The monomers form long chains together during this process and turn into a solid; we commonly describe this process by saying that the glue is drying, when in reality a chemical reaction takes place to change the adhesive from a liquid to a solid, monomer to polymer. Sometimes this process is also called curing.
Tips and Tricks:
Since water is in the air around us, it is important to keep the adhesive capped and store it in a dry place. Storing the glue in the refrigerator is NOT recommended after the adhesive is opened, because water condensation commonly forms around the glue when it is warming to room temperature, which increases the chances of water getting in the adhesive causing premature polymerization. Unopened adhesive can be stored in the refrigerator.
Lash artists can take advantage of this knowledge by helping the adhesive cure at the proper time using a nano mister. Nano misters spray small water molecules evenly over the lashes to help the polymerization process.
How much is enough:
The least amount of adhesive should be used when applying lashes to assure that the cyanoacrylate will cure properly. If the adhesive is too thick the polymerization reaction can stop prematurely, causing the adhesive to either not dry or to dry very slowly, prolonging irritation. Another reason to use the least amount of adhesive possible is that cyanoacrylate releases fumes as cyanoacrylate monomers: the more adhesive used, the more fumes. These fumes can cause irritation to your eyes mimicking an allergic reaction, but these symptoms are temporary and NOT toxic!
To reduce this risk of irritation, the adhesive should only be applied in well-ventilated areas. Lash artists should work in rooms with open doors and windows. If applied in a small room, we suggest using a fan to help circulate and renew the air in the room. This is best for your comfort and that of your clients.
Shelf Life and Precautions:
The adhesive should be replaced within 6 weeks of opening, because it polymerizes over time and creates an uneven consistency. Unopened adhesive, however should have a shelf life of 12 months. It would be wise to date the bottle of adhesives purchased from Borboleta when you receive them and when you open them so you can guarantee the safest adhesive for your clients.
Cyanoacrylate should never be applied with or by cotton, leather, wool, or other natural fibers. Cyanoacrylate has an exothermic reaction with these fibers, which means it releases a lot of heat! This heat can cause serious burns and possibly even catch on fire. Yikes! Lash artists should NOT use cotton swabs.
Cyanoacrylate is very effective and safe when used properly by a trained lash artist. Following these guidelines will help your clients enjoy their lashes and have a safe experience. What questions do you have about cyanoacrylate?