Patch Testing. BIG CHANGE IS HERE.
This article is a big deal for us here at LashBase. This is the biggest change in our guidelines since we started 10 years ago and it’s not a decision we have taken lightly. Please read this carefully and pass it on to any other LashBase users.
We need to start with a disclaimer. A note that explains a few things in boring but straightforward terms.
Disclaimer: This article is specifically about Lash Extension Patch Testing in the UK with LashBase products. For Lash Lifting and Tinting, the process stays the same. For Patch Testing requirements outside of the UK, please check with your governing body/insurers. Safe and professional practice is of paramount importance. If in doubt, stick with what you were taught during your training courses. Always check with your insurance provider for requirements.
Now that’s out of the way. Let’s dive straight in…
I recently asked the question on my Instagram page (@LashBase_Jamie) “How do you patch test and why do you do it?”. I must admit, it was a bit of a loaded question, as I knew what the outcome would be. Here are the results:
How do you patch test:
Apply lashes to each eye – 35%
Apply lashes to one eye – 29%
Put a dab of lash adhesive behind ear or on arm – 18%
Do a mini set and use all products related to lashes – 14%
I don’t patch test – 4%
Why do you patch test:
To test for allergies – 56%
Insurance purposes – 33%
It’s what I was taught – 8%
I don’t know – 3%
As you can see, it appears as though lash artists are not being taught ONE way to patch test or ONE reason why it’s important. It changes from trainer to trainer, lash artist to lash artist. Because of this, it’s got us all here at LashBase thinking. So we decided to look further into it. And once again, the results aren’t straightforward.
Applying a few lashes Vs Testing on the skin.
I will start by saying that Cyanoacrylate is the main ingredient in lash adhesive and also the reason for most reactions. It is an irritant for your skin, eyeballs and respiratory functions. If you are using an EU regulated adhesive, it will state this fact, alongside a big diamond with an exclamtion mark inside it, on the bottle or packaging. For this reason, lash adhesive should not touch the skin, ever. Testing on the skin is the old school method for patch testing and is not a clear indicator for showing if a reaction will occur or not. That being said, applying a few lashes also DOES NOT give a clear indication of whether or not a reaction will occur. This is because of 2 reasons.
1. A patch test does not give full exposure in the same way a full set will.
2. Lash adhesive allergies are cumulative (they build up over time).
Here’s an interesting bit of information for you: It’s more likely for allergies, sensitivities and reactions to occur in clients that have been having lashes for 6 months or more than in first timers!
Now that you have read the patch test method comparison and it’s even more unclear, let’s go through why we do patch tests anyway…
Testing for allergies Vs Insurance requirements.
As stated above, either method of patch testing will not give enough exposure to the eyes, lashes and respiratory functions in the same way that doing a full set would. This means that a small patch test will not accurately test for allergies and a reaction could still occur even if the patch test results are fine.
As I also mentioned above, most of the time, reactions happen in clients that have been having lashes applied for a longer period of time. This is because the sensitivity will build up each time the client is exposed to lash adhesive. It is unlikely (although it is possible) that a client will already have an allergy to Cyanoacrylate if they have not been exposed to it before. NOTE: Nail Glue and Super Glue are Cyanoacrylate based.
What about the Insurance Companies? In short, the lash industry is relatively new. This means that insurers are learning and adjusting their policy wording on the go, much like us. Here’s what our research brought up through talking to lash artists regarding their experiences with different insurers:
One insurer told the lash artist that they should “follow supplier guidelines”, so they contacted a lash supplier and asked for their guidelines and the supplier said: “follow your insurers’ guidelines”. It’s one big circle that doesn’t give us an answer either way.
Another insurer said that the lash artist had to patch test, but upon reading the terms and conditions, the only patch testing reference was in regards to tinting products and didn’t mention lash adhesive at all. Again, no clear answer.
A few other insurers allegedly stated to the lash artists that they do not need to patch test.
So, who’s right??
When it comes to insurance, unfortunately, you are at their mercy. In other words, you must adhere to what they say/require as these are the guys you’ll need if a reaction does occur!
*for the purpose of this article, our information has been gathered via Facebook groups, messages and emails with various professionals within the industry including adhesive manufacturers.
A true patch test.
Let’s say that you are a fan of patch testing. Do you want to know what a true patch test really entails? A true patch test is testing every product that you plan to use on that specific client. Lashes, adhesive, eye pads, cleanser, primer, tape etc etc. And do you know the problem with a “true patch test”? It still wouldn’t give full exposure and even IF a reaction did occur, you’d then have to figure out which product it was that is causing the problem!
Patch test waiver forms.
How about if you don’t want to patch test? Do you get them to sign a form to say that they haven’t had a patch test but understand the risks involved? And if you do, have you ever heard someone say the line “That isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”? This common response to a patch test waiver form is completely unfounded. Of course, if you are unlucky enough to end up in court, it’s the lawyers’ job to fight for their client and pick holes in any documents or statements. But, answer this, what do you think is better:
1. Going to court with a letter that has your clients signature on, to confirm they knew about the dangers of lash extension reactions and openly turned down a patch test.
2. Going to court with nothing and fighting with your word against theirs?
I know which answer I’d pick.
So, why exactly am I telling you all this?
LASHBASE have changed their patch test guidelines.
1. You must patch test every client 24-48 hours prior to lash appointment by applying a few lashes to each eye.
1. You are not required to patch test lash extension clients.
2. The client must be fully informed of the potential risks involved with lash adhesive reactions. This must be documented and signed by the client and lash artist to confirm that they understand and are happy to go ahead. The client should also be offered the option for a patch test if they have any concerns.
3. You must follow your insurers’ guidelines.
Important: If your insurer says that you must follow the suppliers’ guidelines, revert to point 1. If your insurer requires that a patch test take place, we recommend patch testing every client 24-48 hours prior to lash appointment by applying a few lashes to each eye.
So there you have it. Big changes here at LashBase. Please share this with any LashBase users and let us know your thoughts.
Please remember, if you are in any doubt, continue as you have been trained.
Which side are you on?
Want more? Here’s a little extra advice:
If someone is allergic to Cyanoacrylate, unfortunately, they won’t be able to have lash extensions done. That said most 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. This is why it is very important to have air movement at the point of application. Moving the vapours away from the client. Otherwise, vapours will fall back onto the face if not moved. They will fall particularly to 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. Always keep good air movement/ventilation around the client and lash technician. Always ensure the client sits up before opening their eyes. Always ensure the least amount of adhesive is used. Excess adhesive can cause sensitisation. Select the correct adhesive.
To keep up to date with our patch test guidelines, please feel free to download our new Patch Test Consultation Forms