What is Shock Polymerization? How to Avoid Shock Polymerization and What to do if You See it. 

Typically, eyelash extension glue contains a black pigment which helps it to blend seamlessly with the eyelash extensions – you can get clear lash glue too of course, which blends well with any eyelash extensions, but is most typically used for coloured lash extensions sets. If your lash glue is black or clear, why does it sometimes turn white?

What is Shock Polymerization?

Eyelash extension glue contains a high concentration of cyanoacrylate, which reacts to the humidity in the air and cures as a result. This is the reason you need to be aware of your room’s humidity levels and your placement speed in order to get the glue that will cure in the most user-friendly time for you. 

Shock polymerization occurs when the glue comes into contact with too much moisture too quickly and cures faster than it’s supposed to. While lash glue can dry too quickly in very high humidity environments, room humidity itself won’t cause shock polymerization – this can still lead to the glue not forming a strong bond between the extension and the natural lash, but you’re not likely to see white residue on the glue bonds from humidity alone.

A photo showing shock polymerized eyelash extension glue on fresh lash extensions in the outer corner, due to the eyes watering during application | London Lash Canada

Is Shock Polymerization Bad?

It’s not dangerous, but it’s definitely not what we want to see on our client’s lashes. Shock Polymerized lash glue becomes coated in a white residue which is really obvious against the eyelash extensions and doesn’t look good, but it’s also really brittle which means that the glue can just crumble.

How Does Shock Polymerization Occur?

Well, we know that it’s caused by our glue coming into contact with moisture too quickly, but two of the most common ways that this happens is during the treatment when our clients’ eyes may water, and during removal if we start to wash the lashes before we’ve removed all of the glue residue. 

Shock Polymerization During Treatment

During application, it’s pretty common for our clients’ eyes to water toward the end of treatment, which is how we can sometimes end up with shock polymerization in the outer corners of the eyes. To avoid this, start your lash sets in the outer corners working inwards – by the time you get to the end of treatment and your clients eyes start to water, the glue will have had a little more time to dry. 

If you do this, take care to work across both eyes evenly. Working across both eyes will help you to prevent shock polymerization in both eyes but will also help you to avoid stickies in your lash set as the glue will have a little time to cure before the next lash is pressed up against it (you should still spend some time at the end of treatment checking for and isolating stickies, though).

Something else to keep an eye on is whether the client’s eyes are open or are being irritated at all by the eye patch or tape, as these can contribute to watery eyes. Make sure you have a lash mirror on hand to ensure your clients eyes are completely closed during treatment.

TOP TIP: To help absorb tears, take a Glue Nozzle Wipe, fold it in half and stick it to the eyepatch in the outer corner to absorb any tears, preventing them from sitting on the eyepatch and coming into contact with the glue bonds.

A photo showing shock polymerized eyelash extension glue on natural lashes due to remove not being completely removed from the lashes before cleansing | London Lash Canada

Shock Polymerization During Removal

This often catches beginner Lash Technicians off guard, so it’s one of the most common ways for shock polymerization to occur. What happens in this case is that the glue remover melts the glue so that the lashes can be taken off – the glue in this form doesn’t look like lash extension glue because it becomes stringy, a bit like strip lash glue, so it’s understandable that you might not interact with it in the same way that you’d interact with lash extension glue. 

While the glue is stringy and the lash extensions you’re removing are all gone, take your tweezers and use them to just slide the glue residue off of the lashes. You can also take some microbrushes to help with this – we recommend the lip applicator wands because they’re thicker and quite sturdy, but the brushes with bendable tips are also excellent here because they have very pointed tips, which help you to get in between lashes. 

Once all of the glue residue is gone, you can go in with your lash cleanser – Lash Shampoo is a good place to start, but Protein Pads will get you closer to the lash line, so are what we always reach for after a removal!

One More Thing…

If you’re applying anything to the strips of lashes, for example Booster to help your fans stay open or Primer if you’re making spikes for a wet look lash set, be sure to leave them to dry off a little before dipping them into your glue.

How Do You Fix Shock Polymerization During A Lash Set?

Unfortunately, there’s not really a quick fix – you can’t reverse the effects of shock polymerization so you’ll have to remove the lashes that are affected. To make this easier for you, tape the rest of the lashes with extensions applied out of the way so that you can apply your remover to the affected lashes without upsetting the rest of the set. Once the lashes are removed, clean them up and you can reapply your extensions, making sure the lashes are dry now.


And that’s it! Everything you need to know about Shock Polymerization in one handy little blog post. Just one last note about nanomisters, because this is something that we get asked from time to time – nanomisters emit a very fine misting of water (and no, you cannot put Superbonder in a nanomister) and while they aren’t super likely to cause shock polymerization as long as you hold them far enough away, they can cause the glue to be brittle when it cures. The best way to finish a lash set is simply by applying a little bit of Superbonder.