participants in cyanoacrylate adhesive for eyelash extensions research study

Business Tips

You may have heard through social media that Enchanted SPA commissioned a study on Ethyl Cyanoacrylate exposure for eyelash extension technicians in September 2017.

If you haven’t – here’s a quick background.  We were concerned about the conflicting advice in the last year or so about what working safely should look like in the eyelash extension industry. At Enchanted SPA, we have always made sure that when we make recommendations, we can back up our advice, but every answer led to more questions!   So we went on a journey to get advice from specialists in their fields.

What we did to find out about Cyanoacrylate Exposure

We developed a detailed brief on the eyelash extension industry and the use of Cyanoacrylate adhesives during extension application.  Next, we approached 3M Australia and a number of exhaust ventilation and air purifier providers for recommendations on what masks to use and what type of ventilation would be appropriate.

Their advice?  We can help you, but we need to know what the typical exposure levels of Cyanoacrylate are for your industry first!  Good point!  But there were no public studies or research on OUR industry.

So we decided to bite the bullet and commission one!  We contacted GCG, a highly reputable Australian specialist whose clients include the Federal Government, Defence Force and blue chip mining companies. We spoke with them for months and months about what testing we could do and the best way to define testing sites. It was really important to us that we answered all the ‘what ifs’ and industry concerns that we possibly could.

The Cyanoacrylate Test Scenarios

Here’s the kicker.  The best method for testing cyanoacrylate exposure is complicated and very expensive.  So we chose to do two tests, measuring exposure for Ethyl Cyanoacrylate:

  • one at a small typical sized home salon (10-12sqm) for the solo operators

    Commercial Salon test site with 8 lash techs lashing models at the same time
    Commercial Salon – Paul from GCG observing while 8 lash techs lash models at the same time
  • the other in a commercial space with multiple technicians working at the same time to try and lay out a ‘worst case scenario’.

Why did we choose Ethyl Cyanoacrylate?  Because that’s the type we use in our adhesives. We hoped if we tested both ends of the range, this would provide answers on exposure that could fit with the vast majority of technicians.

Our testers wore sample monitors with a gauge positioned in the breathing zone of the lash technicians and a pump to collect the air samples strapped to their backs.  The sampling method is in accordance with OSHA Method 55.

We used the same parameters for both test sites: same adhesive, (Enchanted Crystal Clear), practice of working to the side (no glue rings or wells on the head), dropped a new bead of adhesive every 15 minutes and sampled for 1 hour and 45 minutes using personal sampling monitors whilst lashing.    In the case of the commercial space test site, we had eight lash technicians all working on a model at the same time and every one of them dropped an adhesive bead every 15 minutes (56 beads in total during the sampling time).  The technician wearing the monitor worked in the centre of the group.

Special Thanks

Before we dive in to the results, we just want to take a quick moment to acknowledge the eyelash extension technicians from the Western Australian lash industry; who donated their time and skills for our project.  They blindly put their trust in us when we called for volunteers – without knowing exactly what they were getting themselves into! So thank you for your contributions!

Commercial Test Site (Enchanted SPA premises)

Fern Cant (randomly selected monitor wearer), Natasha Gallier, Nina Middleton, Lydia Kypros, Jamie-Lee West, Chelsey Briggs, Maryke Botha and Jacinta Rokich.

Commercial Salon site - participants
Commercial Salon Test Site participants
Home salon Test Site (Luscious Lashes by Margaret) – Margaret Attrill
Home salon test site for cyanoacrylate research - Luscious Lashes by Margaret, (L to R) Maggie, Janelle & Kelly from Enchanted SPA, Paul from GCG
Home Salon Test Site participants

Cyanoacrylate Exposure results

There is no current Safe Work Australia Occupational Exposure Standard for Ethyl Cyanoacrylate.  Therefore, we used the internationally recognised standard, established by the ACGIH (Amercian Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists) using a Threshold Limit value (TLV).

This sets an Occupational Exposure Standard for Ethyl Cyanoacrylate at a limit of 0.2ppm (parts per million) on a time weighted average of 8 hours a day, 6 days a week. Still with us? This is the measure researchers normally use to calculate exposure results.  But we know a LOT of eyelash extension technicians don’t do normal!  So we asked for two calculations – one at the normal standard; and the other on an adjusted standard of 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.  The purpose? To cover the ‘worst case scenario’ even more.

Maggie lashing model while wearing ethyl cyanoacrylate sampling monitor (visible just below and left of her chin)
Home salon – Maggie lashing wearing ethyl cyanoacrylate sampling monitor (visible just below and left of chin)
Home Salon Cyanoacrylate Exposure Results

Exposure levels were so low the lab test couldn’t even detect it.  Cyanoacrylate exposure level recorded: <0.01ppm

  • Officially categorised as “less than 50% of the occupational exposure standard of 0.2ppm” on a Time Weighted Average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • Even at an adjusted exposure standard based on 12 hours per day for a 6 day working week, the level would still be less than 50%.



Fern lashing while wearing ethyl cyanoacrylate monitor (back view - orange pump visible)
Commercial Salon – Fern lashing wearing ethyl cyanoacrylate monitor (back view – orange sampling pump visible)
Commercial Salon Cyanoacrylate Exposure Results

Even with eight lash technicians all working at the same time for the entire testing period, all dropping adhesive beads every 15 minutes (56 beads in total), the exposure level was well under the safe limit. Cyanoacrylate exposure level recorded: 0.063 ppm

  • Officially categorised as “less than 50% of the occupational exposure standard of 0.2ppm” on a Time Weighted Average of 8 hours a day, 5 days a week
  • Only 57% of the adjusted exposure standard based on 12 hours per day for 6 days a week


The Lashia Experience

On the day we announced our testing, Mimmi Ebbersten from Lashia Australia told us that Lashia had taken part in similar testing in Sweden in December 2016.   The Centre for Occupational and Environmental Medicine in Sweden did the testing, which involved Lashia’s salon and training school, as well as two other salons.

We asked Mimmi for permission to share the results with the lash community, as they weren’t publicly released.  Happily for us and you all,  she said yes! The results were that for Lashia’s salon and school (with portable fume extractors in the room but not in use):

“The amount of Ethyl 2-Cyanoacrylate was below the detection level in all air samples.”

And for the other two salons:

“The air content levels of Ethyl 2-Cyanoacrylate were in most cases below the detection level, ie. very low.”

The recommendations from this study conducted in Sweden were as follows:

Even though very low levels of Ethyl 2-Cyanoacrylate were found:

  1. Respiratory protection with solvents(filter type ABE1) should be used (half mask with goggles, full mask or fan controlled respiratory protection)
  2. To avoid skin exposure and risk of hand eczema disposable gloves made of nitrile rubber should be used.

GCG Recommendations

The recommendations might be unexpected for some and even controversial for others.

In the specialist Work Health & Safety and occupational hygiene services field in Australia, recommendations for personal protective equipment (PPE) and mechanical controls are only made if a risk evaluation determines the work practices, products used and environment are not sufficient to maintain safe exposure levels. If the levels are approaching the established occupational exposure standard; then first PPE, then mechanical controls are considered.   Our results were nowhere near the limit.

So here are GCG’s recommendations, based on the occupational exposure results, task observations and risk evaluation:

  1. No masks, gloves, or local exhaust ventilation are necessary
  2. Non-permeable under eye protection should be used to limit risk of excess adhesive making contact with client’s skin. (Don’t use paper tape.)
  3. Practices using a glue ring or a glue well on the Client’s head increase atmospheric and dermal (skin) risk during application. This should be discontinued. (Don’t use a glue ring or well on the client’s head.)
  4. The Client’s eyelashes and eye area should be cleaned at the completion of treatment.  This will remove any residual adhesive from the application process.
  5. Maintain indoor air quality levels in the salon within the recommended IAQ guideline values.

We know that some people who have experienced symptoms might find the recommendations surprising.  Therefore, it is important to note there are limitations to these findings:

  • All sampling results are representative of the work area during monitoring.
  • Changes in the workplace environment and day to day tasks can greatly alter personal exposure levels.

As such, individual results may not be representative of the true exposure for the occupation/area in question.


Basically what we are telling you is we know the way we work as a company is safe.  We know our Ethyl Cyanoacrylate based adhesive is safe.  Likewise, we know that lash artists like Maggie, working within the same principles of the testing are safe.  Working the same way, there is no reason to suggest your exposure levels are likely to be any different.  If you use a glue ring or well on the client’s head, if your ventilation is poor; the exposure levels might be different.

What about Masks?

Health & Safety Advisers only recommend PPE and mechanical controls to reduce risk if results are near or above the safe limit of the occupational exposure standard.  These scientific tests proved our exposure levels were really low. Having said that, technicians with asthma or other sensitivities *could* experience effects even well under the safe exposure limit.  You may need additional controls if you can’t address your symptoms through other means.

Based on these exposure results, GCG says masks are not required.  However if you choose to wear a mask for vapour protection; you should choose a disposable respirator with nuisance level organic vapour filter.

Examples include the 3M 9913V or the Moldex 2400P2. Choose a valved respirator over non-valved. The valve helps to reduce heat and moisture build up in the mask; particularly in humid environments and can reduce issues with skin irritation around the facial seal area.

Our Final Word

Enchanted SPA privately funded this project, with Louise Tierney from Lash Inc sponsoring.  Our only motivation was to educate ourselves on appropriate health and safety steps using actual data and professional recommendations  .  We promised to share the results worldwide to start a pool of information that is actually relevant to US; instead of relying on other industries for answers that might not fit the way we work.

We’ve lived up to our promise – what you choose to do with the information is now up to you!  We wish you a long, happy, healthy lash career xx


To use the information contained in this report for commercial purposes, please contact us for permission first.

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