You Are The Best!

What Is The “Best” Adhesive?

I see versions of this question pop up on groups and forums so frequently that it makes me want to scream. Not because I think it’s a wrong question, but because so often it’s followed by “____ brand is terrible!” or “I can’t get good retention!!” Many new lashers don’t understand that the adhesive may not be the issue.

If you’ve tried 10 different adhesives and you’re still having retention issues…

…it’s likely not the adhesive’s fault.

In my opinion there is no “best” adhesive for everyone. There IS a best adhesive for Me! Of course, I love the whole Sinful family of adhesives, but this is not here as advertising, only to show you the variations within One Brand. Femme Fatale and Girl Next Door are my favorites depending on the season, but I do use Red Ruby on a couple of extra sensitive clients, Black Diamond is kinda stuck in the “friend zone” these days and Gold Topaz…well…we just don’t have the best track record together. All of these are great adhesives, some just work better for Me than others. I have lash besties in Arizona who’d fight me over that Gold Topaz remark.

If your environmentals aren’t the same as Jane down the Block, her fave may not work well for you. Ingredients, lashing speed, environment, application process and client aftercare are different for every artist, so finding the adhesive that will work the best for you can take a minute.

So here are a few things to consider.

Ingredients

For me, the most important thing about adhesive is the ingredient deck. The two to three things necessary in an adhesive are:

  • Cyanoacrylate (CA)
  • Stablilizer
  • Pigment (if black)

That’s pretty much it! Anything more and it’s not likely to be an adhesive I’d use without researching those additional ingredients.

The quality of the ingredients is also important to me. I want Beauty or Medical grade ingredients, especially the cyanoacrylate, to ensure that they’re safe for use around my clients’ eyes.

Cyanoacrylate is the sticky goodness that gives our adhesives holding power. Without it, we might as well be using strip lash glue. Bleh! Where you purchase your adhesive matters because not all cyanoacrylates are equal. A huge shout out to Michelle Rath at Sinful Lashes for this great breakdown of Cyanoacrylates grades!

The most common stabilizer, the additive that makes our adhesive more than one time use is hydroquinone or HQ. Also a common ingredient in lightening and brightening products for both skin and teeth, HQ can be allergenic with excessive exposure. I have a dental tech client who I have to be careful of which adhesive I use, because her daily exposure to HQ has resulted in a sensitivity bordering on becoming an allergy.

What is used as a pigment in black adhesive can also be important to know. Carbon Black is the most common pigment used and contrary to popular lash artist mythology, in over 2 years of researching, I’ve been unable to find it listed as an actual allergen on any dermatological or medical database. Believe me, I’ve looked! A LOT! I’ve even consulted allergists and chemists in the US, Canada and the UK who couldn’t find anything either. Brilliant Black aka C.I. 27260 however is a black diazo dye, a synthetic compound, found mostly in food colorings that IS a known allergen that should be avoided.

Environment

  • Make sure you’re using the correct adhesive for your lashing environment. If you don’t have a hygrometer to monitor your temperature and humidity, Buy One Today! Amazon, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Walmart…they all have them and they’re all under $20. Here’s a link to a decent one on Amazon.
  • Calibrate your hygrometer. Your brand new toy should come with instructions on how to calibrate and you should let it sit in the space for about 2 hours before checking it. You should also change your batteries and recalibrate every few months. Personally, I have 2 in my space (one close to my working area, one further away) and I check them throughout the day during the hours that I normally lash to see how the temp and humidity changes, because it does, throughout the day.
  • Both temperature and humidity need to be considered for optimal adhesive efficacy. If your humidity is on point, but your temperature is 10 degrees cooler or warmer than the recommended range for your adhesive, you’re still going to have issues.
  • Every adhesive manufacturer should list the correct temperature and humidity range that their adhesive works best in. IT IS NOT THE SAME FOR EVERY ADHESIVE! Make sure you’re researching the specifications for the exact adhesive that you are using or want to use before purchasing. Most major brands list the ideal ranges on their product pages. It can also be found on some packaging. If all else fails, contact the adhesive distributor or manufacturer directly and ASK. Phone, business page DMs or email are almost always listed on distributor websites.
  • If you’d like to adjust your space to fit the the adhesive you want to use instead, there are a couple of options.
    • Low Humidity – Invest in a humidifier. Humidifiers should be turned on at least 30min before your first appointment of the day and the door to your space shut, for maximum efficiency. Depending on the size of your space, timing may be longer or shorter. In my 250Sqft space, it takes an hour. My favorite humidifier is this one from Levoit because it can be either warm or cool mist, has a huge 6 L tank that lasts for days, has and adjustable air flow direction, has a sensor for automatic shut off at the humidity percentage that I set and it even comes with a remote control for days that I need to adjust it on the fly.
      • Pro Tip: Your humidifier should not be too close to your working area. If you can, put it at least 6ft away and it should not blow directly toward your treatment table.
    • Seasonal Changes – Both heaters and A/C draw moisture out of the air, though heaters do so at a much more rapid rate. For those working in areas that need either, please monitor your humidity diligently when the season requires their use and be prepared to adjust for them. Sometimes, having them running can be a godsend for adhesive longevity, but they can also drive you insane if you aren’t monitoring.
    • High Humidity – A dehumidifier can be a great way to drop your humidity, but they do take time to work. Turn it on (or invest in a smart plug to set a timer) at least an hour before you’ll start working. As stated above, the use of a heater or an A/C unit can help reduce the humidity as well as adjusting the temperature in your space.

Application and Speed

  • Application is Key! If your extensions aren’t applied properly, the adhesive isn’t to blame. Make sure you’re checking those bases for secure attachment, isolation is on point and that extensions aren’t too long for the natural lash before you blame your adhesive.
  • Lashing speed has to be taken into consideration when choosing the right adhesive for you. As a beginner, this can mean that you need an adhesive that takes 2-5 seconds to set under it’s ideal conditions. As you progress and become faster in your isolation and placement, you may want to switch to a .5-2 second set time.
  • Even a fast setting adhesive can be slowed down, or slow be sped up, by modifying your environment. Cyanoacrylate requires moisture to cure. Higher humidity environments can cause slow adhesive to set more quickly and dropping your humidity can slow down a quick adhesive. If you can’t adjust your environment, stick to adhesives with ranges that will work well in your space and with your timing.

Client Considerations

Last, but certainly not least on your troubleshooting adventure is what clients are doing in their day to day life. Retention will suffer if your client isn’t caring for their investment and no adhesive in the world can hold up under some pressures.

  • Aftercare is Everything! Educate your clients on proper aftercare, specific to the products you use. If you don’t know the proper aftercare protocols for the products you use, ASK YOUR BRAND REP! There is little consistency in the lash world, when it comes to teaching of aftercare. Please don’t rely on outdated information or information that may not suit the products you use. Provide clients with the products they need to properly cleanse their lash extensions and call them out when they aren’t following good aftercare practices!
  • Lifestyle – If your client is a line cook at a restaurant, for example, they’re likely to be sweating a lot and close to open heat sources that can cause retention issues and even damage to extensions. Add a line into your consult form that asks about their daily activity levels or occupation to be able to educate your clients on additional considerations of aftercare for special circumstances. Swimmers are another big one! Salt and Chlorine are corrosive. If lashes aren’t at least rinsed after a dip, those substances can deteriorate adhesives. Suggest they rinse with fresh water and cleanse as soon as possible.
  • General Health – Those with health concerns may have biological issues or be on medication that alters hair growth, strength and lifespan. Research those conditions and medications that can cause issues. Have a line on your consult form regarding current medications. If you don’t know what a medication is, The Mayo Clinic has a fabulous database. Just type in “medication name side effects” and it will give you a list from Common to Rare side effects. This site is also great for supplement inquiries. Crash/Fad diets are also a concern with hair growth. Some extreme diets, like Keto, can cause natural lashes to become dehydrated and brittle due to lack of nutrients and the lashes can actually shrink away from the adhesive bonds.

Not every adhesive will work for every lash artist. Finding the ones you love can take time and testing. It’s worth it to try out new products, but just keep in mind that the product may not be the problem. Troubleshoot all of these areas before ditching a brand new bottle.

Who can add other considerations for retention issues besides bad adhesive? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Comment, reach out on social media or email me below!