Lash adhesives contain anywhere from 80 to over 90 weight percent cyanoacrylate. This constitutes for most of the adhesive. The strength of the adhesive depends on the amount of cyanoacrylate, and different compositions are ideal for different circumstances (sensitive eyes, retention, flexibility etc.). Since all adhesives are mostly made out of cyanoacrylate it’s the most important ingredient to understand.
Understanding the Science: Polymerization
Cyanoacrylate is composed of monomers or single molecules when in liquid form. When these single monomers are exposed to water they attach to one another to make a polymer or a chain of multiple molecules. This process is known as polymerization. As the monomers link together and become polymers, cyanoacrylate turns 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 is analogous to the finger pushing the dominos over, 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. Unopened adhesive can be stored in the refrigerator. 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. 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
A minimal 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 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.
In the coming months I will be sharing more about cyanoacrylate to help educate our artists on how to best care for their adhesive and educate their own clients.
Leave your questions and comments below, so I make sure to cover them in future posts.