Is Glue bad for your Skin?

Is glue bad for your skin?
By Bill Wyatt
November 7, 2020
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Glue is found almost everywhere, even in cosmetics that people use every day. In this article I’m going to explain what effect different glues have on your skin, and how to be as safe as possible.

Is glue bad for your skin?

Most household and cosmetic glues are not harmful to your skin. In general, the safest type of glue is PVA glue, which is commonly used to make school glue, wood glue, and in cosmetics such as nail glue and eyelash glue.

Although most glues are safe (Especially glues designed to be used in schools or in the beauty industry) there are a few outliers, which we’ll look at in this article.

What types of glue are safe?

Just about every type of household glue is perfectly safe if you accidentally spill a little bit on your skin. Most will come off easily with a damp rag while still wet, and warm water and soap once dry.

Common household glues including school glue, wood glue, superglue, silicone sealants, epoxies and fabric glues are all perfectly fine for your skin.

Even some stronger glues like superglue is no problem in small quantities. Cyanoacrylate is even used by the military for instantly closing up wounds in the battlefield.

What types of glue are bad for your skin?

Household glues are usually pretty safe when it comes to your skin. 

There are a few things you should be aware of though.

Cyanoacrylate (super glue) heats up as it dries. Usually we use such a small amount that it’s hardly noticeable, but if you were to spill a large amount on your skin you would definitely burn yourself. Luckily, CA glue is usually sold in tiny containers of between 5ml and 25ml

The type of glue you should avoid are solvent based glues. These are mostly found in more industrial glues, and sometimes in construction adhesives.

For example, most contact cement is solvent based. That means the adhesive inside the glue is suspended in acetone (or some similar solvent) instead of water.

Acetone can damage your skin, though only if you use it a lot. Acetone is useful for getting rid of some glues like Superglue, and it’s often used to get rid of nail polish too.

Is superglue safe to use on skin?

Yes – often used in surgery. See history of superglue – widely used in vietnam combat medics.

Superglue is exothermic, meaning it gives off heat as it reacts. For this reason,if you use a lot of superglue you may burn yourself.

Superglue unsafe for ingestion – plastic solidified fine once dry (pass through)

Is Nail Glue bad for your skin?

Nail glue is safe to use on your skin, nails, and hands. It’s usually made from cyanoacrylate, which is the same adhesive that super glue is made from. 

You can remove nail glue with a nailbrush and some nail polish remover.

Is Eyelash glue bad for your skin?

Eylash glue is not bad for your skin. Lash glue is usually made from PVA, the same glue they make kids’ school glues with. It’s perfectly safe to use on your skin, even in the sensitive areas around your eyes. 

PVA is food-safe, non-toxic, and it washes away easily just with warm water. It doesn’t give off any harmful fumes or odors and it doesn’t heat up when it dries.

Is Gorilla glue bad for your skin?

Gorilla Glue is made from Polyurethane, which is chemically inert and completely safe for your skin, although you should avoid putting it on or near your face, because it’s not easy to remove.

The only problems you might face with Gorilla Glue is if you let it dry, it can be hard to remove. You can remove it with gentle scrubbing and warm soapy water.

Is Elmer’s Glue bad for your skin?

Elmer’s is specifically aimed at kids and schools. The FDA demands all kids glue to be food-safe and non-toxic.

Elmer’s glue is completely safe for your skin because it is made from PVA with no other added ingredients. It doesn’t give off any fumes and can be easily softened and removed with just water and a damp cloth.

Elmer’s glue is sometimes mixed with an exfoliant like activated charcoal powder to create a facial scrub. The idea is to apply the glue, let it dry, then remove it along with the oils and dirt from your pores.

While I’m not convinced this would work any better than soap and water, it definitely wouldn’t do any harm. Just make sure to use PVA glue and not any other type of glue, which may be hard to remove.

Is Wood Glue bad for your skin?

Not at all. Wood glue is not bad for your skin. I know carpenters who spend half their life with their hands covered in Wood Glue.

Wood glue is PVA, just like Elmer’s glue. The difference is sometimes wood glue has additional additives added to make it waterproof or to give it a more natural wood color. 

It’s perfectly safe, although depending on which glue you use it may stain your hands a bit, especially if you use a darker glue.

You can remove wood glue with a damp cloth, or some warm water if it’s dry.

Is Hair Glue bad for your hair?

Hair Bonding glue (used for attaching braids, weaves, and extensions) is usually made form Latex. 

The advantage of latex is it is 100% completely natural and non-toxic, while maintaining some level of water resistance.

This differs from regular household glues which are usually made from petroleum products.

If you are using another type of glue on your hair (that isn’t specifically hair glue) then make SURE it is PVA glue.
PVA like Elmer’s is completely safe for your skin and hair, and it can be easily washed out with warm water.

Do not use any other type of glue in your hair, as it may not come out easily with only water, and you don’t want to be using harsh solvents on your hair when you need to remove the glue.

How to get glue off your skin?

Each type of glue has a different method for removal, but the great thing about our skin is that it helps the process along. Eventually, any glue will come off on its own even without you trying to remove it.

For most household glues, you can remove it from your skin with warm soapy water and gentle scrubbing. This works even for glues like superglue, which aren’t affected by water.

For any tough spots that won’t come off, the best option is to use acetone, which can be found in nail polish remover. Acetone weakens and dissolves many household glues, including superglue.

Is Glue bad for your face?

Any type of cosmetic glue like Hair Glue or Lash Glue, or any PVA glue like School Glue or Glue Sticks are perfectly fine to use on your face.

Some people even create home-made face cleaners by mixing Elmer’s Glue with charcoal or other exfoliants.

The common factor in all these glues is that they are made from PVA, which degrades in water, so it will come off with nothing more than a little warm water and a damp cloth.

Avoid using any other household glues on your face. This includes nail glue, which although designed for cosmetic use is actually made from the same stuff as superglue and won’t come off easily without a solvent like acetone.

Makeup artists often use regular PVA gluesticks (designed for paper and crafting) to create makeup effects, since it is more waxy than liquid glue and can be built up, and makeup can be applied over the top of it once it’s dry.

Is Glue bad for your nails?

Household glue isn’t inherently bad for your nails, the main issue with glues is actually the way we remove them.

Nail glue is usually made from cyanoacrylate, which is the same stuff that Superglue is made from.

Since your nails are harder and much less flexible than your skin, nail glue has a chance to form a very strong bond with your nail.

This doesn’t hurt or affect your nail, however when it comes to removing nail glue the only way to get rid of it is to use a solvent, which can weaken your nails. The solvent is usually acetone, found in nail polish remover.

You might think it would be better to use another glue, but the problem is that nail glue has to be able to stick to acrylic nails, and it has to be able to bond quickly, so CA is the best option.

You can help protect your nails by gently scrubbing your nails with warm soapy water to remove as much of the glue as possible beforehand, and by rinsing your hands with clean water after you have used nail polish remover.

Is Glue bad for your hands?

Most household glue (including superglue, gorilla glue, woodworking glues, and school glues) are all perfectly safe and not bad for your hands at all. If you get some on your hands you can easily wipe it off while it’s still wet, or you can remove it afterwards with warm soapy water and some gentle scrubbing.

The adhesives you need to be more careful with are industrial type glues which sometimes include harmful solvents which can sometimes cause skin irritation.

Solvent based adhesives are usually flammable, give off harmful odors and come in metallic containers. It will always say on the packaging if there’s any chance of irritation.

With these types of glue, it’s recommended to wear gloves, although in practice if it’s just a little bit that spills while you’re using them, you will be fine as long as you clean your hands properly afterwards.

Conclusion

I hope this article helped you.

As you can see there is a huge difference between different type of glues, and as long as you are using the correct product, glue is perfectly safe for your skin, face, hair, and hands.

Keep an eye out for those stronger adhesives like contact cement, which are not recommended to get on your skin.

Thanks a lot for reading

-Bill

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