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Eyelash adhesives and sensitization


LashLovers Oy is a manufacturer of Finnish high-quality eyelash extension products. The company is involved in continuous research and development work, together with equipment manufacturers. Eyelash products include, among others, synthetic lash fibres, eyelash adhesives designed for eyelash extension use, as well as various accessories, with which eyelash extensions can be attached. All products are manufactured according to strict quality standards and each product has been subject to safety checks and documentation, in accordance with EU regulations. These include, for example, obligatory safety data sheets of chemical statutes and obligatory safety data sheets of cosmetics statutes. LashLovers Oy products contain eyelash adhesives manufactured in both the EU and Asia.

LashLovers Oy continuously monitors changes in the chemical and cosmetics legislation, such materials limited and subject to licensing by REACH regulations. The company's goal is to provide customers with the safest and most user-friendly products possible. Product safety data sheets are drawn up by experts, in order to match both the EU and national regulation requirements. Cooperation with protective device manufacturers ensures that the possible exposure to chemicals remains at a safe level.

Lively public debate has taken place recently concerning eyelash products, especially eyelash adhesives, including, among others, the safety of use, and the allergenic properties of the products. To straighten out prejudices and misconceptions related to eyelash adhesives and their use, and to ensure that customers are provided with studied and fact-based guidance on the safe use of adhesives, LashLovers Oy has compiled, in conjunction with experts in the field of chemical safety, an info package on the subject for professionals. This report has put together publicly available information on the components of the products, the product’s hazard classification, exposure and protection, focusing on LashLovers Oy’s imported adhesives and the adhesive compositions. In addition, the material used in the study originated from academically acceptable sources, public databases of chemicals and cosmetics, as well as information obtained from eyelash adhesive manufacturers. Quoting from the text, the original source must be mentioned: LashLovers Oy.

Chemicals or cosmetics

According to cosmetics regulations, eyelash adhesives are not cosmetics and fall under chemicals regulations. The task of an eyelash adhesive is to mechanically bond an eyelash extension to one’s own lashes, while mascara that falls under cosmetics changes the appearance of the eyelashes. Tukes monitors the legislation in Finland. If there are legislative changes in the future, so that eyelash adhesives are considered to be cosmetics, LashLovers Oy is already prepared to import EU manufactured eyelash adhesives into Finland as cosmetics. This means that all the components used in eyelash adhesives are also permitted for use in cosmetics. According to the current chemicals regulations, there is no need to declare the eyelash adhesive material components on the “so-called” INCI listings, but, instead, a safety data sheet has been prepared, according to REACH and CLP regulations. The safety data sheet presents all the components that are classified as being detrimental to health and the environment. At the same time, the product packaging and transport labelling is also determined. The task of the safety data sheet is to provide the user with instructions for the safe use and storage of the product.

EYELASH ADHESIVE CHEMISTRY

Eyelash adhesives mainly contain a variety of adhesives, or monomers and pigments. Additives are, for example, dispersing and emulsifying agents to ensure a uniform composition and distribution of the pigments to the entire monomer mixture or adhesive-material.

LashLovers Oy eyelash adhesives use, for example, a black pigment that is permitted in eye cosmetics. The pigments are so called hydrophilic, i.e. they are evenly distributed into water droplets, but are not distributed evenly as such, for example, when used in an adhesive. For the small-sized pigment particles to also be distributed evenly in adhesives, the pigments are first mixed, or dispersed in water. The pigment-water dispersion is mixed or emulsified in the adhesive. The task of the emulsifier is to keep the water-pigment mixture evenly distributed throughout the adhesive. The ready adhesive mixture is not a breeding ground for bacteria or other microorganisms, due to the scarcity of water.

An adhesive is composed of monomers, or similar molecules. Often, adhesives contain different monomer mixtures. When hardening, the adhesive monomers combine as long molecular chains, or polymers. The pigment particles are firmly attached between the polymers to give a colour to the hardened adhesive. The purpose of various polymers, for example, is intended to provide strength and durability to the hardened adhesive drops. They can also affect the speed of the drying of the adhesive. Various types of polymers are formed, for example, by cyanoacrylates and polyisocyanates.

For example, the polymerization reaction of polyisocyanates, or the combination of monomers to form long chains (adhesive hardening), begins when the adhesive comes into contact with moisture in the air or water. Polyisocyanates form amines when affected by moisture, which forms long polymer chains with polyisocyanates.

Cyanoacrylates and polyisocyanates are used in many eyelash adhesives. One of the most frequently used cyanoacrylates, ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate, has been classified, according to EU chemicals regulations (CLP; EC / 1272/2008), as irritating to the eyes and skin. Adhesives with ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate of more than 10% are categorised additionally as being a possible irritant to the respiratory tract. Individual cyanoacrylates released into the air from liquid adhesives can polymerize, in the presence of moisture, for example, in the nasal mucosa. The polymerization reaction on a sensitive mucous membrane may result in an irritation. Various types of cyanoacrylates are also used in medicine as wound closers and as plaster-like protectors, instead of stitches.

Routes of exposure and the sensitization mechanism

In sensitization, the body's own defence mechanisms of the immune system are activated towards, in itself, harmless substances. Sensitization is divided into two parts: in the first stage, the immune system learns to respond to the sensitizing substance. In the second stage, even a small exposure to the substance in question can result in visible symptoms, such as itching, rashes, or rhinitis. Often, the first stage requires a higher exposure than the second phase. Chemicals can be sensitized to through the skin and by inhalation. Sensitisation is individual and some studies suggest that a susceptibility to sensitization may be hereditary. Sensitisation can occur to different ingredients. Accurate information on the reasons for sensitization is not available, however, even though the medical mechanism is known quite well.

Fragrances used in cosmetics may contain sensitizing ingredients, or allergens, regardless of whether the perfume is synthetic or “so called” natural. Also, hair dyes may contain sensitizing ingredients, which can cause visible symptoms. If the amount of sensitizing components exceeds their concentration limits, the names of the sensitizing components must be made aware to the users through the product labelling, regardless of the product specific regulations. According to cosmetics regulations, the names of sensitizing components of cosmetic products have to be written in the “so called” INCI- catalogue, while the sensitizing components of products under the EU chemical regulations must be marked in safety data sheets. In addition, the product packaging must hold the appropriate warning labels. The sensitizing in LashLovers Oy’s eyelash adhesives are cyanoacrylates and (poly) isocyanates, used as adhesive components.

Contact with the skin increases the risk of sensitization, so that skin contact should be avoided with liquid adhesives. When drying, the adhesive components stick (polymerize) to each other, whereby the potential for exposure to sensitive components is significantly reduced. A professional in eyelash extensions will be able to attach eyelash extensions to natural eyelashes without skin contact taking place.

Acrylates mainly cause an allergic reaction when coming into contact with the skin, but to some extent also to the breathing tract. Exposure to adhesive fumes may be minimized through the use of professional air-conditioning solutions, such as, for example, local exhaust ventilation. However, despite this, a professional may be exposed to adhesive fumes throughout their working day. Therefore, it is more likely that the eyelash adhesive components will be sensitive to the professional carrying out the eyelash extensions, rather than the customer. As a result, it is of upmost importance for the professional to be protected from the sensitizing materials.

Protection against chemicals

Protection against chemicals usually requires the use of personal protective equipment. Exposure occurs primarily through the skin and by breathing. According to the instructions of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, protection of the skin of the hands from, among others, acrylates, requires at least two pairs of gloves, as well as gloves made from polyethylene or nitrile. In LashLovers Oy testing, it has been shown that the eyelash adhesives used by the company do not penetrate very quickly through nitrile gloves. Acrylates can be transported to the skin, however, through gloves, whereupon care should be taken when using the adhesives and contact between the adhesives and the gloves or clothing should be avoided. Gloves should be replaced immediately if they show signs of adhesive droplets or wear. The same is also recommended by the adhesive manufacturers.

With respiratory protection, one should use such protective equipment that filters the adhesive fumes effectively. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health recommends the use of half masks or masks equipped with a fan. In addition, the general ventilation of the workspace should be good and the fumes removed from the work space. Also, adhesives manufacturers recommend local exhaust ventilation and the wearing of suitable respiratory equipment. Read more about occupational safety here.

SUMMARY

Eyelash adhesives, such as all chemicals and cosmetics, are not entirely risk-free to the user. In order for the adhesives to function appropriately, components are added to them, which may cause allergic reactions. Although the probability of hypersensitivity reactions is small, and safety measures are at the highest level, the most sensitive individuals may still have a reaction or have an allergy to eyelash adhesives. Similarly, sensitization or an allergy may also occur to other chemicals, regardless of the use of eyelash adhesives.

The safe attachment of eyelash extensions requires trained professionals with practical knowledge on how to minimize exposure to both the customer and the professionals themselves. The safe use of chemicals always means, in addition to the actual risk protection, the care of the user. By these means, it is possible to decrease the likelihood of the emergence of hypersensitivity reactions resulting from eyelash adhesives.