How to handle an allergic reaction to lash extensions.


January 28, 2022

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Hands down — one of the most frustrating things that can happen as a lash artist & as a client is an allergic reaction. But first we have to understand, what is an allergic reaction? And also — how do we handle it?

Understanding what an allergic reaction actually is, is the best way to handle this situation. Allergic reactions can vary from person to person as far as severity goes, but symptoms + longevity are actually pretty standard. Let’s break it down.

What is the client reacting to?

– During fills & full sets, we apply extensions to each individual natural lash using adhesive. Lash adhesives emit micro-fumes. How high or low the fumes are can vary from adhesive to adhesive (for example, purified adhesives contain lower fumes than adhesive that are not purified). These fumes are not harmful, however, to some clients, they may be slightly irritating. This is why we use a nano-mister at the end of each appointment. The nanomister not only soothes possible irritation, but also acts as a catalyst for the polymerization of the adhesive – in simpler terms, the moisture cures the adhesive (turns it from a liquid to a solid) and stops more fumes from being released.

In adhesives, there are two main ingredients that clients can have reactions to. ⁣⁣

• 𝐌𝐄𝐓𝐇𝐘𝐋𝐀𝐂𝐑𝐘𝐋𝐀𝐘𝐄 is an ingredient in adhesives that control how quickly the adhesive cures. This ingredient isn’t necessary in adhesives- it’s actually toxic & messes with the mucus membrane in our noses & throats- only about 5% of the population is allergic to this ingredient. Find an adhesive that doesn’t have methyl, or find an artist that is knowledgeable & trustworthy that uses an adhesive that doesn’t have methyl. ⁣⁣

• 𝐂𝐘𝐀𝐍𝐎𝐀𝐂𝐑𝐘𝐋𝐀𝐓𝐄 is what makes the extensions actually stick to the natural lash. Only about 1-2% of the population has a sensitivity to cyano, & we literally can’t have an adhesive without it. The extensions absolutely won’t stick for long, if even at all.⁣⁣
There are “sensitive” adhesives on the market, but what this means is either there’s no carbon black in the adhesive (meaning the adhesive is clear, not black), or that there is just a lower percentage of cyano in the adhesive. BUT, if you’re allergic to cyano, you’re going to react to it regardless if it’s a little or a lot.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of an allergic include the following in no particular order, and may or may not include every possible symptom:
– Itchiness of the eye area
– Swelling and/or redness of the upper lid + lash line
– Dry/irritated upper lid + lash line area

How long does this last?

Regardless how severe or mild the reaction is, a general rule of thumb to keep in mind with reactions is that they will almost always subside after 72 hours.
Typically symptoms begin to show around 24 hours after the service has been done.

So what do we do?

There are a few ways to go about reactions, but, depending on severity, there are a few different routes you can take

1. Do NOT use a removal solution on the lashes!
I know this may seem like the right thing to do, however this will only make things worse! Removal solution (creams, gels, etc) will reverse the adhesive and transform it from a solid back into a liquid. In its liquid form, the adhesive will release fumes and spark up the reaction all over again. Trust me, it’s not worth more discomfort. You can try to pop off some lashes for the client’s comfort, however it’s best to just let the reaction pass and remind your client that after 72 hours, everything will subside.

2. Shock curing at the end of each appointment
At the end of the appointment we can take a few extra steps to do everything we can to reduce the fumes being released from the lash adhesive. Nano-mist the lashes throughout the appointment, and at the end as well. After the final misting, wash the lashes with a gentle cleanser and rinse them well, then fan dry. Recommend to the client to wash the lashes again when they get home, as well as that night + the next morning if possible. It may seem excessive, but since moisture is what fully cures the adhesive, we want to cover all our bases.

2. Recommend antihistamines to reduce irritation + inflammation
To be as proactive and as preventative as possible, we can recommend our clients to take an antihistamine before + after their appointment. Usually we recommend benadryl, zyrtec, etc. These over-the-counter medications can help to reduce symptoms such as swelling, itchiness, and irritation. However, we have to remember that we are NOT medical professionals, we’re only lash artists. So we are not giving them prescriptions, only recommendations.

3. Suggest
a doctors visit
If the client’s reaction becomes severe or too uncomfortable, we can suggest a visit to their primary care doctor or an optometrist/opthamologist. That way, if necessary, they can obtain prescription steroids or creams such as dexamethasone, etc.

We have to remember that allergic reactions are not our fault! There are even some instances where allergic reactions develop out of nowhere (i know, our bodies are bizarre and cruel). It’s unfortunate that these things happen, however, we can simply do our best to work with these clients by taking a few extra steps, or even suggest some alternatives if necessary (ex. lash lift). It’s still totally possible to keep a client that gets allergic reactions, we just have to do what we can to help them feel comfortable.

Giselle Franco

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