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Lash Adhesives - The Science and Breakdown - Lash Artisan

Lash Adhesives - The Science and Breakdown

Let’s get down and dirty with breaking apart the makeup of eyelash adhesives.

First, we need to under some chemistry to understand the ingredients' definition. Here are the basics.

What is an Element?

Elements are pure in nature. Cannot be broken down any further by a chemical reaction.

What is an atom?

The smallest amount of an element.

Example: Oxygen (is an element made up of ONLY oxygen atoms.)

In relation to lash adhesives (hydrogen, oxygen, carbon)

What is a Molecule?

A molecule is the smallest amount of a chemical substance that can exist. When two or more atoms join up, they form a molecule. Oxygen, (O2) is a molecule because it has two atoms joined together.

In relation to lash adhesives – this is what is needed to allow a reactant to start it’s curing process.

What is a Substance?

Physical matter; material.

In relation to lash adhesives – the substance formed will be a flexible acrylic resin that is holding the natural lash and extension together.

What is a compound?

It is a substance made from any combination of elements. Held together by atoms.

In relation to lash adhesives – the chemical compound would be methyl cyanoacrylate, ethyl cyanoacrylate, octyl cyanoacrylate

What is a Polymer?

A polymer is a molecule, made from joining together many small molecules called monomers. A chemical reaction bonding monomer together to make a polymer is called polymerization.

In relation to lash adhesives – this is what occurs during the curing process.

What is Polymerization?

Polymerization, any process in which relatively small molecules, called monomers, combine chemically to produce a very large chainlike or network molecule, called a polymer. Monomer molecules may be all alike, or they may represent two, three, or more different compounds. Usually at least 100 monomers molecules must be combined to make a product that has certain unique physical properties—such as elasticity, high tensile strength, or the ability to form fibers.

In the case of lash adhesives – the individual ingredients within a bottle of adhesive bonding together to form a substance. The substance formed will be a flexible acrylic resin that is holding the natural lash and extension together.

What is a Chemical reaction?

A chemical reaction occurs when chemical bonds between atoms are formed or broken. The substances that go into a chemical reaction are called the reactants, and the substances produced at the end of the reaction are known as the products.

In relation to lash adhesives – The reactant or the compound is water/humidity/moisture in the air. The reaction between cyanoacrylate and water initiates the cross linking or polymerization reaction of the acrylic polymers. Which will then form a final product or substance a flexible acrylic resin that is holding the natural lash and extension together.


Cyanoacrylate - Simply put, cyanoacrylate is an acrylic monomer that cures to become a ‘plastic’.

Poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) - are polymers that function as film formers and viscosity-increasing agents in cosmetics. Film formers are widely used in hair and skin-care products like moisturizers. It's main characteristics when added will provide water resistance, optimal adhesion and flexibility properties.

Carbon black - is composed of fine particles consisting mainly of carbon. A dark black powder used as a pigment in cosmetics such as eyeliner, mascara and lipstick. 

So how does it all work again?

The adhesives' main ingredient is Cyanoacrylate which is an acrylic monomer that transforms to a plastic state after curing. Cyanoacrylate glue can only bond with a surface when there is moisture present. This is why humidity and temperature play a huge role when working within a space while lashing. This means if the cyanoacrylate glue is placed on a perfectly dry surface, it will not stick to the surface or form a bond. When any amount of moisture is present, the molecules in the cyanoacrylate glue will react with the moisture to form tight chains in between the two surfaces until a final substance is produced.

Once you understand the science, you will be able to work with any bottle of adhesive no matter the brand. That first drop, that first dip and at that first placement, you should be able to see, feel and tell how your adhesive will perform. Lash adhesives are finicky and is not just a bottle of glue. As a lash artist, I know with every single drop if I will have good retention or if I will have bad retention. I always know what I need to adjust to make the adhesive work.

Keep in mind, application and the adhesive are 2 separate skill sets.

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