(This a revised version of an article that was written by myself, and published in in 2017)
Often in our line of work, customers have concerns that pertain to client sensitivities. There are a few components in all eyelash extension adhesives that could be the possible cause of those sensitivities. If not the cause, they are possibly factors that can irritate their eyes while the adhesive is curing, especially if there is an underlying infection that isn’t noticeable yet. Cyanoacrylate is the main ingredient, and takes most of the flack for sensitivities, but statistics state that only 2% of the population will ever become allergic to Cyanoacrylate. There is also the stabilizer which can be an irritant, and then there is the Carbon Black. Up until the last couple of years, Carbon Black, (AKA CAS No. 1333-86-4) is the one ingredient that has been overlooked when we have examined the possible causes of sensitivities.
According to my research, Carbon black is usually derived from heavy petroleum products such as FCC tar, coal tar, and Ethylene cracking tar to name a few. (These ingredients alone aren’t really something I would choose to put near my eyes if there were another option.) The crude product is put through a firing process where it is cracked under high temperatures in a reactor and separated from the by-product that is left over. Then it is processed into different size pellets of various sizes and grades. The final step in the production of Carbon Black is to refine these pellets into the finest particles and mix it to create the blackest colour possible in a variety of products such as tires, plastic, rubber, and (you guessed it) our adhesives.
Carbon Black has been the subject of extensive scientific health studies during the past several decades by many different agencies, with the focus being mainly on health and environmental impact. Some of this research has shown “sufficient evidence” in animals and “inadequate evidence” in humans that The International Agency For Research On Cancer (IARC) has determined that Carbon Black is possibly carcinogenic to humans. Other agencies around the world have come up with their own conclusions, but based on the above information, I think it is safe to say that Carbon Black has the potential of being a substantial irritant to a cross-section of our sensitive Lash clients.
We do have a few options to consider. Most of us were trained with the black adhesive, and up until a few years ago the clear adhesive that we had available to us either didn’t have the bonding ability of our black adhesive, or it would cure anything but clear. This would leave a discolored, unattractive residue hanging onto our lash extensions. Lucky for us the lash industry is in a constant state of growth, and manufacturers have begun to provide many good quality clear adhesive that do have the ability to bond for six or more weeks, and cure clear – the way we need them to. The biggest obstacle in using the clear adhesive in my opinion is that they are practically invisible which makes it hard to see the surface of the bubble as you dip into it. There is also a bit of a learning curve when you start using it, but if you angle your lamp just right you will see the light on the surface of the adhesive move as you touch down or dip into the adhesive with your extension. Once you get used to using the clear adhesive, you will find yourself reaching for it for more than just your sensitive clients. You can use it for your students in both your Classic and Volume courses. Classic students will see more clearly the space they may be leaving between the extension and the lash, while Volume students will be able to see the wrapping of the fan bases around the natural lash much more clearly.
Changing to a clear adhesive isn’t going to solve your client sensitivity issues, but it certainly will make a difference if the ingredient they are sensitive to the carbon black, and it is a definite step in the right direction. Ask your adhesive supplier if they have a clear adhesive comparable to the black adhesive you use regularly and give it a go. I know we carry three fabulous clear adhesives. Who knows, you might find it isn’t as hard to get used to as you thought it would be, and then your clients can benefit from less toxic ingredients used near such sensitive tissues. Along with using clear adhesive, I would like to recommend implementing the use of a quality barrier cream to protect your clients’ eyelids from the vapors, regardless of which adhesives you choose. We carry one from Lashologist’s choice, developed by Ellie Malmin that will work to protect your clients from sensitivities for a lifetime of lash extensions.