While it’s statistically rare that clients have a reaction to eyelash adhesive, it can happen. More often than not, though, clients’ eyes become irritated and inflamed as a result of other conditions, such as arthritis, rosacea or even high levels of cortisol. Michelle Nelson, master lash technician and owner of the Lumè Lash franchise, observed several incidents of what appeared to be allergic reactions among her clients over a short period of time. That prompted her to do some research into products that would neutralize the effects of fumes and contact dermatitis from the cyanoacrylates found in lash adhesive, and three years ago Lumè adopted an allergy protocol into the business model. We spoke to Nelson to find out more about the Lumè Lash allergy protocol and how they care for their most sensitive clients.
What are the most popular types of allergic reactions that you saw in clients?
“Most clients start with one eye being slightly itchy and a little red under the eye or on the lid. Some also had dry, flaky skin that would go away after five to seven days. If it goes undetected or unreported, the next extension fill will cause a more exaggerated response. Eventually, it will result in a full-blown reaction, including itching, redness, swollen periorbital skin and pain. At that point, the extensions must come off and give the histamine reaction time to calm down and dissipate.”
How did you develop your Lumè Lash Franchise allergy protocol?
“We discovered that cyanoacrylates are stabilized through the addition of a weak acid; thus, we derived a protocol to help neutralize this. First, we dissolve baking soda in distilled water and then prewash the skin with the solution. This creates a higher pH level and counteracts the slight acidic mantel of the cyanoacrylate. Next, we use paper medical tape to surround and protect the skin during the lash extension application. Once the lashes are applied, we spray the extensions for one minute with a nano mister filled with distilled water to completely cure the adhesive. Then, we remove all the medical tape, wash the skin again with the baking soda mixture, and apply aloe vera to the entire periorbital area to soothe and protect the skin. (One-hundred percent aloe is a great oil-free moisturizer that heals and soothes the skin.) The allergy- prone clients follow this protocol every morning and evening for three days. A few report that they also take Benadryl at night to lower the histamine reaction, which is what causes the swelling. Lumè Lash has more than 3,000 clients and less than 1 percent of clients with allergies. Of that small percentage, 75 percent of those reactions have been eliminated!”
What advice can you give other lash artists who encounter clients with allergies?
“It’s important to ensure that your cyanoacrylate follows strict guidelines and restricted amounts of formaldehyde and latex. Always make sure that you buy from a reputable supplier and that your clients report any changes that may occur after they’ve seen you. Apply lash extensions in a well-ventilated room. Also, always allow for 1 to 2 millimeters of space from the lash line to the placement of the extension to ensure there’s no irritation; this irritation is often confused with a reaction to cyanoacrylate.”