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The Truth About Refrigeration and Adhesive

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When it comes to cyanoacrylate (CA) adhesives, urban legends swirl around faster than the dehumidifiers people rush out to buy. Here, we’ll demystify a big myth for you about storing lash extension adhesive in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life.

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This misconception began with a grain of truth but then spread like runny adhesive. In reality, storing CA in refrigerators can actually backfire and cause CA-based adhesives to thicken and degrade faster than if they were kept at room temperature. Why? Because of condensation, which is
the conversion of a substance from its vapor state into its liquid state usually due to temperature reductions. In this case, ambient water molecules found in the salon air float into the bottle every time it’s opened and a drop of CA is dispensed. This vapor becomes trapped inside the bottle’s top/spout area and condenses into invisible microdroplets of water that drip into the adhesive whenever the bottle’s temperature is lowered and raised—such as when you use the adhesive at room temperature and then put it back into a refrigerator. When these microdroplets of condensed water drip into the CA itself, they cause it to polymerize, leading to premature solidification within the bottle. According to analytic chemists, condensation droplets could also lead to increased formaldehyde production inside the bottle.

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So why did refrigeration as a recommended storage method come to be? It boils down to storing an unopened bottle versus an opened bottle. What proponents of refrigeration in the lash extension industry didn’t know was that this practice applies only to unopened adhesive bottles that, if they’re packaged and sealed in a special way, shouldn’t form internal condensation when refrigerated. But once you’ve opened CA for the first time, you need to place it back in a location that’s cool and arid, and not a refrigerator that’s colder than salon air temperatures. Furthermore, maintaining stable temperatures and humidity levels for the air in your workplace and CA storage area is important; air will inevitably enter the empty space inside the bottle when you open it, and even if a refrigerator isn’t part of your storage equation, any temperature fluctuations can cause dreaded condensation that can reduce your adhesive’s shelf life, rendering the adhesive unusable.

Bottom line: Almost all polymer chemists agree that cool, (nobody said “cold”) dry storage areas without temperature fluctuations are the best place for CA storage.

— by Sophy Merszei, molecular biologist, cosmetic chemist and president of Novalash, Inc.