What is formaldehyde?
Formaldehyde has become a buzzword in the beauty industry. A few years ago formaldehyde was officially added to the list of carcinogens, or cancer-causing chemicals. This list was published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Since then there has been much debate about Brazilian Blowouts – a very effective and costly hair smoothing treatment that contains high concentrations of formaldehyde. Some countries have chosen to ban them altogether. There has been a lot of hype and concern for health and safety with regards to formaldehyde, as there should be! Carcinogens are not to be taken lightly, but education on the matter can help you make informed decisions on what products to buy and trust.
Products including soaps, paints, automobiles, preservatives, and even eyelash adhesive have formaldehyde derivatives in them. A formaldehyde derivative means that formaldehyde was used to make the product, but the final product does not actually contain formaldehyde. A derivative is in no way the same as the starting material. It is kind of like how a caterpillar undergoes metamorphosis while in its cocoon. A butterfly is in no way the same as a caterpillar. It has completely different properties, but it came from a caterpillar.
Why are we talking about it today?
Cyanoacrylate, which is present in all types of eyelash adhesives, is a formaldehyde derivative. It’s made when formaldehyde and cyanoacetate react together. This reaction shows how ethyl cyanoacrylate is made:
Ethyl Cyanoacetate + Formaldehyde = Ethyl Cyanoacrylate + water
When ethyl cyanoacetate and formaldehyde react they make something brand new and very chemically different—much like the caterpillar’s metamorphosis. For example, formaldehyde is a gas at room temperature, but cyanoacrylate is a liquid at room temperature and is very sticky. Sometimes during this production process not all of the formaldehyde reacts with the cyanoacetate, so there is a purification process called chromatography to separate out any leftover reactants (ingredients) or byproducts. After this process the cyanoacrylate is pretty pure. There may be “trace-amounts” of formaldehyde, which refers to such a small amount that it is not measurable, and can be said to be formaldehyde-free. All of Borboleta Beauty’s adhesives are formaldehyde-free.
As lash professionals, it’s important to know what ingredients are in the products you are using to be able to answer questions and make yourself more marketable. Leave a comment below if you have any questions!