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Article: Beyond the Basics of Retention

Beyond the Basics of Retention

Forget everything you thought you knew about retention...

Information for this blog has been taken directly out of our Retention Secrets ebook - on sale for $29 

We all know retention is the holy grail of the lash world - I mean, happy clients that get great retention are so important in the success of lash artists. But what if our pursuit of these perfect retention is setting unrealistic expectations?

Here's the scientific truth: every lash has a predetermined lifespan influenced by biology. So, maybe the real question isn't, "How long can we make them last?" but rather, "How can we create an optimal environment for extensions to thrive?" Could there be a sweet spot for retention that varies from person to person?

In this blog, I will be referring to creating exceptional retention - what does this mean? This means that 95% of lashes are coming off with the natural lash attached. This means that extensions are mostly coming off ONLY when the natural lash is shedding. 

That is the definition of exceptional retention. 

Now ... let's begin. 

Beyond the Blame Game

The industry often points the finger at clients for poor retention, suggesting improper aftercare. Lashology challenges that notion. I believe that application and proper preparation are responsible for roughly 85% of successful retention. Unless the client is picking their lashes, the onus for achieving exceptional results lies with the lash artist.

Preparing the Foundation for Success

Understanding your client's lash type is crucial for maximizing retention. This assessment isn't a one-time deal; it's an ongoing process that might evolve with each appointment as you learn more about your clients natural lashes by working with them.

Let's delve into the science behind this. All clients have different hair porosity which affects their hair pH. Each different type of hair will need different preparation but to simplify thing, we need to create a with a balanced (pH 7) or slightly alkaline (above pH 7) pH provide the ideal base for cyanoacrylate adhesion.[1]

Our primer (coming soon!) and Lashology Purifying Cleanser are both pH balanced which will help create perfect bonding for your extensions.

This is why I am so passionate about our products, they’re truly a research backed, vital step for optimal retention.

A pH balanced surface supports the creation of long chain cyanoacrylate bonds (the strongest type!).

Think of using our cleanser and primer as creating the best, move receptive surface for the adhesive to bond with.

Products: Tools in the Retention Toolbox

You might hear some lash artists dismiss super bonder and primer, claiming excellent results without them. This can be true – achieving great retention is possible without these extras.

However, these products have their place on your lash trolley and rightfully so. Primer and bonder essentially bridge the gap to exceptional results, potentially extending a clients set by an additional 5-7 days. This seemingly small difference can significantly impact your clients experience, and it can be the difference between a 2-week or 3-week refill. After all, exceptional customer experience is what keeps clients coming back for more and sets you apart from the competition.

High-quality adhesives like Lashology adhesives are undeniably important, but remember, no single product is a magic bullet. Proper application and realistic expectations are equally important.

Application Techniques: Rethinking the Classics

While some advocate for wrapping as a key to retention, my experience suggests otherwise. Handmade lashes often outperform premades in terms of retention because their bases are able to hold more adhesive. This is not a bad thing - we've traditionally been told to be conservative with glue, but the key to exceptional retention might lie in using more than you think.

My secret for achieving long lasting retention with classic lashes involves dipping the extension about halfway into the glue. This ensures you have as many bonding points as possible between the extension and the natural lash.

For fans, the trick lies in dipping them into the glue dot until the base begins to fan. We want glue distributed beyond the very bottom of the base for optimal application.

Image: from Retention Secrets No One Talks About Ebook
Red line depicts how far to dip lash into adhesive

Aftercare: Oil, Science, and Debunking Myths

We are all familiar with blaming poor retention is oil-based products used around the eyes. The typical solution involves instructing clients to cleanse their lashes more frequently. However, let's delve into the science behind this advice.

Cyanoacrylate adhesives cure through a process called polymerization. Imagine tiny "cyano" groups (C≡N) within the adhesive molecule reacting with moisture in the air and on lashes, forming long chains and creating a strong bond.[4]


Ethyl 2-cyanoacrylate - American Chemical Society
Molecular structure of Ethyl-2-Cyanoacrylate - the water resistant variation of Cyanoacrylate

Oil molecules are non-polar, lacking concentrated electrical charges on one end. Conversely, cyanoacrylates are slightly polar. This polarity difference disrupts the attraction between cyanoacrylate molecules, weakening the overall adhesive bond. This is why a strongly polar solvent like acetone can remove adhesive from your tweezers. Imagine the cyanoacrylate molecules as interlocking bricks forming a strong wall. Oil, acting like a slippery liquid, seeps between these bricks, compromising the wall's structural integrity.

Artwork generated - depicts oil molecules breaking long chain Cyanoacrylate (C=N) bonds.

The science suggests that cyanoacrylate can be broken down by oils, but the amount of oil plays a crucial role.

However, Lash Adhesives aren't pure cyanoacrylate. 

Our adhesives contain Poly Methyl Methacrylate (PMMA), a thermoplastic known for its resistance to "most detergents, inorganic chemicals, aliphatic hydrocarbons, fats and oils, diluted acids and concentrated alkalis at room temperature" [1]. Research also indicates that PMMA softens above 100°C and melts around [2], meaning that it is extremely durable.

PMMA is the component of Lashology adhesive that is responsible for the final cured bonds being a strong, acrylic material. It's almost like a supporting block to the cyanoacrylate molecules. 

It also makes our adhesives water resistant (meaning they don't shock cure when your client gets teary!). Not every adhesive on the market has PMMA and Lashology adhesive composition is exclusive to Lashology (something I'm super grateful and proud of). 

The Million Dollar Question: Does Daily Makeup Affect Retention?

So, can your daily skincare and makeup routine decrease the retention of your lash extensions? While science suggests oil can weaken the adhesive bond, the jury's still out on how much of an impact everyday products truly have, especially with regular cleansing.

At Lashology, I am excited about the future of lash research. As cyanoacrylate and PMMA analysis moves beyond industrial settings and into the realm of beauty-focused experiments, we can expect more concrete answers about the factors influencing lash extension retention.

Until then...

By embracing a scientific understanding of factors like lash health, cyanoacrylate chemistry, and the role of aftercare products, lash artists can create an optimal environment for extensions to thrive. Here's the key takeaway: retention is a collaborative effort.

By combining the art of application with the science of Lashology products, we can achieve truly transformative results that keep clients coming back for more.

What are your thoughts? Would you like to know more science about lash products?

Let me know below!


[1], [4] Samuel, HS, Nweke-Maraizu, U, Etim, EE, 2024, ‘Cyanoacrylate Chemistry and Polymerization Mechanisms’, Progress in Chemical and Biochemical Research, vol. 7, pp. 129-142

[2] (n.d.). Acrylic aka PMMA Chemical Compatiblity Chart - V, W, Y, & Z | ISM. [online] Available at:

[3] (2019). nglos324 - pmma. [online] Available at: ‌

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