Have you ever had a client who developed an eyelash glue allergy? Or have you ever encountered anyone who is allergic? Although it is rare, it can happen at ANY time. It can be frightening, especially when you do not have previous experience, or know how to handle it. It is therefore important for us as lash artists to be knowledgeable in this matter, have a system in place, and be prepared to answer any questions. In this blog, we will be covering this topic in DETAIL: what it is, how to manage it, and what to educate your clients on! Ready to dive in with us?
Eyelash glue allergy: what is it?
An eyelash glue allergy is a type of allergic contact dermatitis. According to theAmerican Family Physician Journal, “contact dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition characterized by” redness and itchy lesions “that occur after contact with a foreign substance.” Allergic contact dermatitis is the version caused by an immune response where the body overreacts to an allergen. In the case of an eyelash glue allergy, the allergen is often cyanoacrylate. Reexposing the skin to an allergen will lead to a delayed hypersensitivity reaction causing skin changes such as redness and itching. Typically, symptoms gradually appear over 24-72 hours after getting eyelash extensions.
You can expect that approximately 3-5% of the human population will eventually develop a cyanoacrylate allergy. An eyelash glue allergy may develop many exposures later. This is why many experienced lash artists do not recommend patch testing before the client’s very first lash eyelash extensions experience. The truth is, it is possible to develop an eyelash glue allergy at any point in someone’s life, and why someone suddenly develops an eyelash glue allergy is still unclear.
Eyelash glue allergy vs. irritation.
As a lash artist, it is critical for us to understand the difference between an eyelash glue allergy versus irritation. As we have mentioned earlier, eyelash glue allergy presents as red, swollen/puffy, itchy eyelids with possibly flaking skin. It typically becomes noticeable on both eyelids after 24-48 hours after the lash appointment.
An eyelash glue allergy does not present as redness of the sclera. Clients who experience stinging eyes and redness of the sclera are more likely experiencing irritation from adhesive fumes. To avoid this, always make sure that the client’s eyes are fully shut during the appointment. Throughout and at the end of each appointment, always fan the fumes away prior to having the client open their eyes. This prevents any stinging or burning sensation of the eyes. Another great way to reduce the occurrence of stinging eyes is to useadhesives with low fumes.
How to manage eyelash glue allergy.
1) Gather information & refer to a physician.
If your client informs you that they suspect they have developed an eyelash glue allergy, ask them to list out all the symptoms. You want to rule out eyelash glue irritation (redness of sclera, etc.) Remember to stay within your scope of practice. Most lash artists are not medical professionals and should never diagnose. If you suspect they may have an allergy, first reassure them that symptoms typically subside after a couple days and that it’s best they consult their physician.
Wondering whether or not you should recommend oral antihistamines to your client suffering from an eyelash glue allergy? The answer is that it likely would not help. According to theAmerican Family Physician Journal, “antihistamines are generally not effective”, but topical steroids can be used for successful treatment.
Educate your client to see their eye doctor and inform them that they may have allergic contact dermatitis from eyelash glue. Their physician will be able to assess the severity of the contact dermatitis and determine if they will need a prescription for a topical steroid.
While your client awaits to see their eye doctor, they should fully cleanse their lashes and the skin around their eyes with a gentle cleanser. This removes any of the allergen that may have remained on the skin. They can also use cold compress to help soothe the inflammation.
2) To remove or not: that is the question.
It is in our instinct to remove the allergen when we learn that we have become allergic to something. Therefore, it is common that the client will request you to remove all their extensions immediately. The hope is that it can alleviate symptoms from the eyelash glue allergy. However, what many do not know is that once the adhesive cures, it becomes inert. Removing the extensions with a remover can potentially lead to worsening symptoms. Using a remover will break down the adhesive, which could potentially reexpose the client to the allergen.
Another option is to physically remove the extensions by “banana peeling” them off one by one. This option is the safest way to remove the extensions without reexposing the client to the allergen. However, when the extensions are freshly applied, the bond is still very strong. Doing a physical removal so early on can lead to splitting the natural eyelash and client discomfort.
3) Avoid getting eyelash extensions again.
Once your client develops an eyelash glue allergy, they will most likely react every single time they get extensions done. Re-exposure could potentially lead to worsened symptoms over time.
What if your clients ask you about “sensitive adhesive”? Attempting to switch your allergic client to a “sensitive adhesive” usually does not work. Those with an eyelash glue allergy are typically allergic to cyanoacrylate. Most “sensitive” adhesives claim to be “sensitive safe” due to removing carbon black or being low fume. However, these adhesives still contain cyanoacrylate, which is the actual allergen.
Educate your clients.
We recommend including a section in your consent and waiver forms about eyelash glue allergies. In this section, include information that you would want your client to be aware of in regards to eyelash glue allergies such as:
✔️There is a very small chance that you could develop an eyelash glue allergy. This could happen at any time.
✔️ If you ever experience an eyelash glue allergy, do not worry, it is usually just local symptoms that subside after a few days. Symptoms of eyelash glue allergy include redness, flaky skin, and puffiness of theeyelids.
✔️The first thing to do is to cleanse and rinse the lashes and the skin around the eyes thoroughly with a gentle cleanser. Then see your eye doctor for assessment and possibly a prescription for a topical medication. Inform your doctor that you may have allergic contact dermatitis from eyelash glue.
Alright lash nerds, we hope that you enjoyed geeking out with us on the topic of eyelash glue allergies in this blog! Respiratory symptoms of eyelash glue allergy is also possible, but occurs much less frequently so we will be leaving this for another blog, on another day😎. We hope that the information helped you understand what eyelash glue allergy is, and all the basics of allergic contact dermatitis. An eyelash glue allergy is NO🙅🏿♀️🙅🏻🙅🏾♂️🙅🏽🙅♀️fun, BUT it can definitely be a lot less frightening when you know exactly what to look out for and recommend!
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