Is Your Lash Mask Actually Protecting You?
Are you concerned about exposure to vapor from your eyelash extension adhesive?
Over-exposure to eyelash extension adhesive has been known to result in cold-like symptoms, a stuffy nose, sore throat, wheezing and headaches. There have been reports of ongoing respiratory issues caused by cyanoacrylate exposure.
I, personally have experienced blistering around my nostrils and rashes after long days of lashing with a strong adhesive and no mask. Let's just say I've learned my lesson.
Do you wear a mask during your lash services?
If you're wearing anything other than a mask that's rated for Nuisance Level Organic Vapors, you aren't protecting yourself as well as you might hope.
Organic Vapors are also known as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), and are released as a gas from eyelash extension adhesive as it cures. You may have previously referred to this gas as "fume", however it is actually a vapor and requires a different kind of protection to avoid adverse health affects upon prolonged exposure.
What mask are you wearing?
First, let's look at some of the most common masks used in the lash industry.
Disposable Charcoal Mask
Source: esaybuy2016 on Ebay
These masks are popular due to their cheap price, however the protection they provide is minimal. While using this mask is better than no barrier at all, they do not protect against the vapor from eyelash extension adhesive.
If you are lashing at high volume, for long hours, you will require a mask which offers better protection than these masks are able to provide.
PM 2.5/N99 Dust Mask
Lash Stylists love these masks because they come in colorful, patterned or lace finishes, and are more stylish than most other options on the market. Being in the beauty industry, it's our nature to reach for a mask that's more aesthetically pleasing, however neither the PM 2.5 or the N99 offer the best protection for lashing.
These masks are for Particulate matter, dust and pollution, and do not protect against gasses such as VOCs.
Please note that while the brand Vogmask is a popular choice, they specifically state on their website that their masks are not suitable for chemicals, gasses and vapors.
Half Mask Respirator
While a half mask respirator will certainly protect you against VOCs, they are large, heavy and cumbersome. The weight of the mask may cause neck pain when looking downward for a long time.
This style of mask also makes it very difficult to converse with and built rapport with your lash client, and may be off-putting.
What mask should you be wearing?
N95 with Nuisance Level Organic Vapor Relief
The ideal mask for Lash Stylists is a disposable N95 mask rated for Nuisance Level Organic Vapor. These offer the protection required when dealing with VOCs, are light to wear and won't break the bank.
3M are Moldex are popular manufacturers of these masks, they come in a number of styles. There are many distributors worldwide and are available on Amazon and eBay, so these masks should not be difficult to find - no matter where you are in the world.
Other tips to avoid adhesive exposure:
- Keep cyanoacrylate out of your breathing space
- A jade stone to the side of the clients' head is preferable over a glue ring.
- Work in a well-ventilated area
- Use source-capture ventilation - such as an Aerovex system - if possible
- Fully cure adhesive by adding water to it
- Dispose in a metal pedal bin with a lid.