The Blame Game - Irritation or Allergy?

We hope you have a cup of tea to hand because today’s post is a long one!

Today, we’re talking about irritations and allergies!  We’ve all been there, had a client with sensitive eyes, or had a client message to say they’ve had a ‘reaction’ to their lash extensions. This kind of thing is always hard to determine over an Instagram message and sometimes the first thing that comes to mind is it must be a reaction to the adhesive and the ‘blame game’ starts.  

We want to start off by saying that if a client is allergic to Cyanoacrylate (the main ingredient in all lash adhesives), they will not be able to have lash extensions. Allergic reactions always need to be diagnosed properly by a GP or medical professional, as you (the lash artist) are not in a position to give medical advice and as a brand neither are, we!

The second thing to remember is that lash allergies are cumulative (they build up over time) so one day your client will be fine and then on her 7th visit to you, she reacts. Sometimes it’s easy to blame the adhesive, but it isn’t always the adhesives fault, and this is why education on reactions really is vital. Sometimes, it’s easy to be a bit hasty and claim something is a reaction when a lot of the time it can be something simple. We’re going to go into a few more details in this blog post and explain what to look out for.  

What's in my lash adhesive and can it cause a reaction?

You have probably heard of the word Cyanoacrylate before as it is the main ingredient in all lash adhesives. Some brands claim that their adhesive is “hypoallergenic” and "formaldehyde-free" but these are simply marketing buzz words. ALL lash adhesives are "formaldehyde-free". Formaldehyde is used to make cyanoacrylate. After cyanoacrylate is formed, the eyelash adhesive is purified through a process known as chromatography to get rid of excess reactant (formaldehyde). This process purifies the lash adhesive and makes it safe for client use. After this process, there are only trace amounts left. This is true for ALL brands due to physical limitations and is classed as “formaldehyde-free”. 

Cyanoacrylate is an irritant for the skin, eyeballs and respiratory functions. If you are using an EU regulated adhesive, it will state this fact, alongside a big diamond with an exclamation mark inside it, on the bottle or packaging. For this reason, lash adhesive should never touch the skin.

If an adhesive comes in contact with the skin, it will cause a chemical burn. Sometimes if a client experiences what they ‘think’ is an allergic reaction, it could actually be because the adhesive has touched the skin during application. This is why it is vital to place the extension ideally 0.5mm from the natural lash root but it can be up to 1.0mm away, we repeat: adhesive should not touch the skin, ever!

Fumes and Irritation

Adhesive fumes can be one of the biggest causes of irritation from having lash extensionsIrritation to fumes can sometimes occur after a lash treatment, so the client believes they are experiencing a reaction to the adhesive, but it might be fume exposure which could be causing this! However, neutralising your adhesive can help. Water polymerizes/cures adhesive so if you want to help prevent irritation, simply drop a water droplet onto your adhesive dot. We recommend that you do this each time you replace your adhesive dot. You will then reduce the number of fumes being close to your client's eyes and yours too. This technique is to neutralise OLD adhesive. Do not add water to a fresh dot. Lower fumes = less chance of irritation!

In addition to this, if you have a client who is sensitive to adhesive fumes then it may be worth trying an adhesive to cater to this. Our Extreme Adhesive has minimal odour, minimal fumes and is long-lasting. When used correctly the adhesive has a curing time of 2 to 3 seconds. Extreme is recommended for Classic lashes.

Chemical Burns and Pad Placement

We mentioned chemical burns briefly in the above sections. Again, clients think they have had a reaction when actually it can be down to a chemical burn from an eye pad. If your client is experiencing redness under the eye (in the area where the eye pad was placed) then it’s likely the pads have moved and rubbed the eyes during treatment. Chemical burns are usually red and sore and therefore can be confused with an ‘allergic reaction’. The best way to prevent this is to use the correct pad placement. It is vital that all lower lashes are covered during the treatment. It is important to ensure that when you place the pad it is 0.5 – 1mm away from the waterline and not blocking the glands or touching the eye when the eye is closed. You can then secure the pad with micropore tape if required. As an alternative to pads, you can also use microfoam tape. Ask your client if they are comfortable and ask them to let you know if the pads/tape move or becomes uncomfortable during the treatment.

Application Process

The correct application process is key when doing a lash treatment and can reduce irritation. Did you know that a lot of reactions/sensitisations are due to the vapours/odours coming off the cyanoacrylate adhesive? The moisture in the eye naturally attracts the vapours and can cause sensitisation. Therefore, it is very important to have air movement/ventilation at the point of application. Make sure to move the vapours away from the client. Otherwise, vapours will fall back onto the face if not moved and in particular, fall into the eye area due to the moisture. Also, less is more. Use the smallest amount of adhesive to create a bond. Any excess adhesive can cause sensitisation if it is not cured. As soon as the client opens their eyes if there is too much adhesive on the lash the vapours will be attracted to the moisture in the eyes and they can become sensitive.

You can also use a product such as FlexiBonder as part of your application process. FlexiBonder works to reduce any tiny air bubbles between the clients natural lash and adhesive and it also helps neutralise adhesive fumes to help you provide a safer treatment and reduce any unneeded sensitivities.

You also need to ensure the client's eyes are fully closed when lashing, so it’s always best to advise the client to avoid caffeine prior to an appointment, this will help prevent twitchy eyes and the eyes opening throughout the treatment.

We hope this post has been helpful and explained some reasons for irritation. As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with us on Instagram (@LashBase_UK) and we’ll be happy to help.