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The Real Truth Behind The Lash Industry: An Unregulated Industry With Unregulated Products.

Written on  January 11, 2024
The Real Truth Behind The Lash Industry

In this day and age it’s crazy to imagine that an industry, such as the lash industry (working on the delicate and vital eyes), could still be globally unregulated. If an industry is unregulated then there is no overarching standard for safety - what may be classed as safe and acceptable in one country may fall far short of a regulation/safety standard in another!

Ask yourself this: the products that you use on your clients and expose yourself to daily, where were these products originally manufactured, what ingredients are in them, and are they safe? 

If you were ever called to court to defend the safety of your products due to a disgruntled client, can you prove the above?.

The shocking truth.

In 2015 I stumbled across the shocking truth of an unregulated industry. Let me explain my story:

I entered the lash industry in early 2012, when the industry was still relatively new. I was buying “recommended” lash glues from both online auction sites as well as UK lash suppliers. In 2014 I started to become very sick and my symptoms were always worse when I was lashing. Having never suffered from headaches, suddenly I did. I was sensitive to the light from my lash lamp, had constant sinus issues, black nasal mucus, a sore throat, itchy skin and a tight chest. I also had the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, feeling exhausted and just generally unwell. If I took time off my symptoms always improved, yet when I went back to lashing the symptoms returned. After numerous doctors appointments (each time they could not identify the cause) the penny finally dropped and realised that it was the lashing that was making me sick and from here my journey began....

I stumbled across the shocking truth of the unregulated lash industry (helped along the way by my UK manufacturer who is an expert in all grades of CA and one of the biggest producers in the EU.). I learned that no one was policing the quality of our products. Lash liquids were being produced for super cheap in the Far East, namely China (back in 2012 they were only Countries which manufactured lash liquids) using low grade ingredients that were and still are hazardous to health, before being purchased by lash suppliers, private labelled, shipped off to those suppliers, marked up in price and sold off to the lash artist - lash artists like me!

I learned that lash glue is made up of the main ingredient cyanoacrylate, which is a super strong adhesive used within the industrial, medical and beauty field. It’s quick curing strong bonds make it perfect for use in lash adhesives.

The purity of each grade varies and this is where the issue lies.

My research led me on to discovering how much these manufactures sell their liquid products for (as little as $1-2). I wondered how they could ever make a profit selling products at such low cost, especially products which are used on the eye and expel vapours which are naturally ingested by both clients and lash artists. Surely these products would need to contain the highest grade and purest quality ingredients when used on such a delicate part of the body, as well as being ingested through natural exposure. This then led me even further down the “rabbit hole of truth”.

Most of the lash liquids, namely the adhesives which I am going to talk about here actually contain industrial grade Cyanoacrylate - the stuff you can buy from the hardware store to stick most things back together. In order to keep this product super cheap to manufacture, sell and make a profit, it was being used in eyelash extension adhesive in its most primary form. There was no process to remove the impurities/toxins to then create this into a beauty grade product because this costs money, and then affects the sale price and of course the profit margin.

I then discovered that not only was industrial grade CA being used, but that many of the products contained unnecessary, and again, harmful stabilisers which are added for several reasons: they prevent polymerisation of the product inside the bottle, increase performance (bond strength) and increase shelf life etc. Yes, of course stabilisers are required, however many lash glues had been found to contain the extremely harmful stabilisers detailed below:

PolyIsocyanate

This carries many warnings and is not approved for use. This substance is fatal if inhaled, causes serious eye irritation, may cause damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure, is suspected of causing cancer, is harmful if swallowed, causes skin irritation, may cause respiratory irritation, may cause allergy or asthma symptoms or breathing difficulties if inhaled and may cause an allergic skin reaction.

N-methylpyrrolidone (NMP)

This ingredient is toxic to the reproductive system of male and female test animals. The reproductive effects of NMP in humans have not been studied (there is a reason for this). Based on the animal tests, you should treat NMP as a potential human reproductive hazard. Many lash artists are unknowingly using  lash products that contain NPM. Most lash artists and clients are women of childbearing age, and are being exposed on a regular occurrence to this ingredient.

Phthalic anhydride / Polymethylene polyphenyl polyisocyanate)

The acute (short-term) effects from exposure in humans consists of irritation to the eyes, respiratory tract, and skin. Chronic (long-term) effects observed in workers exposed are conjunctivitis, rhinoconjunctivitis, bronchitis, and irritation of the skin and mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. Animal studies indicate that chronic
exposure to these vapors causes congestion, irritation, and injury to lung cells.

These were just a few found and as you can see are extremely harmful to health, yet used due to being cheap!

The sad reality is that most manufactures of your lash liquids are still outside of the EU, due to keeping costs low and are just that, - manufacturers. They are not working lash artists or clients who are personally exposed to the products most days. Do these companies really care about your personal health, or is this more about profit? - I am sure you can answer the question! Did they care that they produced products that made me super sick and nearly ended my lash career?

Sadly I had to the learn all of the above the hard way, and when I did, I was shocked.

This is why I am now so passionate about not only educating on the dangers we face in an unregulated industry, but developing and supplying safe lash liquids to our unregulated industry.

So in 2015 I developed my own range of UK made lash liquids, not only to allow myself to lash again, but to be able to retail them to the global lash industry and help protect the health of others. My health had already suffered, therefore I needed to ensure that I was not continuing to expose myself and continue to risk my health. I also needed to work, earn and live. Without being able to lash again I had lost my career.

On my journey, I also discovered that UK/EU regs supersede those across the globe, which makes us leaders in product safety. I therefore knew that what I was producing was the safest lash liquids in the world.

Since I launched my brand in 2015 I haven't had a single client show a reaction to my products and I have been able to continue lashing with no health issues. I am 100% confident this is due to the quality of my products. I talk more about this subject on my Social Media.

Are lash adhesives classed as cosmetics?

Currently in the UK, lash adhesive is a borderline product, therefore not currently classed as a cosmetic. This is another reason why even in the UK where we have super strict regs, these products are not policed!

Material Safety Data sheets and ingredients

Many lash artists believe that if they have a copy of the MSDS as well as a list of the ingredients then they can see if the product is safe.

Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to know, as manufacturers do not list their full ingredients or exact formulations as there is no requirement to do so.

Many believe that the MSDS will provide them with what they need to know, however the MSDS is only to provide the safety information of hazardous ingredients that are required to be known for safety issues: i.e skin irritant, harmful, as well as information for transport, safety details for labelling, anything that is relevant to the safety side of the product.

The truth of the MSDS

Many MSDS that I started to study from outside of the EU did not meet the correct requirements. For example, keeping ingredient details a secret, or the percentage of ingredients that simply do not add up! I saw how many manufacturers from outside the EU would attempt get around this and use the MSDS to include what looks like the full formula, giving exact percentages, all adding up to 100% composition, therefore making the MSDS looking much more conclusive to those with little knowledge of SDS.

How do you know which suppliers to trust?

It is actually very simple! Buy only from trusted sellers who manufacture their liquids in the UK/EU: who is the brand owner? Are they a lash expert? Do they educate about the quality of their products? Where are they made? You should be able to google your chosen brand and easily find out who is behind it.

Please also Avoid Amazon/Ebay/ Aliexpress etc. This is where many cheap and unregulated products are sold. These sites do not police their products which is why you can buy anything from them. 

Won’t UK/EU products cost too much for the lash artist to purchase due to their high quality ingredients?

You may be worried that it will cost you too much to buy safe products but this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are many ethical lash brands just like us at Eyelash Excellence that source only safe products and still retail for an affordable price. For us ethical suppliers what we do is about passion and not profit so please support those brands.

If we all pull together as an industry we can take a stance against these unethical, unsafe products saturating our industry. I cannot do this alone, which is why I continue to educate and raise awareness to both lash artists and suppliers as to the real truth. Imagine an industry of safe products, with each supplier taking the steps like myself to really learn the truth of the products they retail. Our industry could be amazing.

I invite you to browse my range of safe, affordable and awesome lash products CLICK HERE

Remember, it is not just lash adhesives we need to be aware of. Ensure your whole cleanse, prep, prime and bonding systems are UK/EU made. Low grade ingredients are not just limited to adhesives but many of the accompanying liquids!

If you have any questions please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

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