There are only a few ingredients in lash glue*, but very subtle variations in the formulations and ingredients cause distinctive characteristics such as bonding strength, setting speed, sensitivity, thickness, and color. Selecting the best glue for your needs can be very confusing. In this article we will clear up confusion so that you can make educated decisions when selecting the glues that are right for you and your clients. Look for lash glues that clearly describe the characteristics of the glue on the bottle or packaging.
*Throughout the article, the terms “glue” and “adhesive” are used interchangeably.
Characteristics to Consider When Selecting a Lash Extension Glue:
- Retention: How many weeks the glue can bond extensions
- Speed: How many seconds between dip and placement before glue sets
- Sensitivity: How strong/irritating the fumes are
- Humidity Range: Tropical, mid-range, and desert climates
- Color: Black or Clear
The Tradeoff Between Bond Strength, Setting Speed, and Sensitivity of Lash Glue
Cyanoacrylates are responsible for the excellent bonding abilities, but they release fumes which are irritating to eyes and mucus membranes, and potentially irritating to skin. A glue that is very strong and will hold extensions the longest is always going to also be high in fumes and irritability. If glue is formulated with reduced fumes, unfortunately the strength of the bonds is also reduced. Understanding this trade-off and relaying it to clients who are sensitive to glue can help to keep realistic lash retention expectations.
Low fumes = Slow Setting time and Short-Lasting Lash Retention
High fumes = Quick Setting Time and Long-Lasting Lash Retention
Glues are available in in setting speeds between 1 and 7 seconds, but the setting speed also correlates with the level of fumes. The quicker the glue sets, the higher the fumes and irritation.
Beginner Lash Glue
When you were learning to apply lash extensions, you were probably trained with a slow/low fume glue which allowed you time to practice your application skills. But these glues do not have long retention, and extensions begin to fall off in 1-2 weeks. Beginner glues are low in fumes, making them more likely to be tolerated by sensitive clients, but you will need to adjust your application speed to match the set time on the label.
Intermediate Lash Glue
As your skills and speed increased, you were able to use glues that sets quicker, allowing you to move to the next lash faster without sticking. The fumes and irritation are somewhat increased, but they set in 3-5 seconds and bond 3-5 weeks.
Advanced Lash Glue
As an advanced-level lash artist, you have perfected your placement skills and you may prefer glues that set quickly, allowing you to speed lash without sticking together. Advanced glues set in 1-3 seconds and bond up to 7 fabulous week, but these glues are also high in fumes and irritation and not appropriate for sensitive clients.
NOTE: Beware of glues that promise low sensitivity and long-lasting bonds, as it is the high fumed ingredients that create the longest lash retention.
Special Lash Glues Formulated for Extreme Environments
In addition to speed, strength, and sensitivity, glues are formulated to function optimally at 3 different humidity ranges: Low humidity (5-45%), Mid-range humidity (40-55%), and high humidity (50% +). Most glues are formulated for mid-range humidity.
Even very dry desert climates have some moisture in the air, and so all lash glues will eventually cure, but perhaps not quickly enough for lash artists who may find lashes sticking together as they work, despite the setting speed of the glue. On the other hand, some climates are very humid, and setting can happen too quickly causing brittle bonds and extensions that start falling off before the client walks out of the door. It is in your interest to use a glue that is designed to function optimally in a humidity range that you can control and maintain within reason. Use a hygrometer to monitor the moisture in the air and consider changing to a low or high humidity glue if your conditions don’t fall into the mid-range.
The Differences Between Black and Clear Lash Adhesives
The most popular color for lash glue is black, which is designed to appear seamless on the lashes when used with black extensions, however, the visual effect of the black pigment is minimal. When Lash glue is being manufactured it is clear, then carbon black is added to it. Carbon black’s only purpose is as a coloring pigment, and therefore it is not a necessary ingredient. While black is the most popular color for lash glue, there are some disadvantages to the use of carbon black that are noteworthy. Many lash artists are not aware that clear glue is an option, and even a superior option. Discover the advantages of clear adhesive and consider how your clients can benefit.
Advantages of Clear Lash Adhesive:
- Greater lash retention: Clear adhesives have slightly greater bonding strength than black
- Less Irritation: Some sensitive clients can tolerate clear adhesive better than black
- Clear Glue is invisible: Bottom extensions look more natural and colored lashes may look better when applied with clear glue
The Disadvantages of Black Lash Adhesive:
- Carbon black causes slight compromise in glue bonding strength
- Carbon black may cause allergy or irritation in some clients