Stories of beauty dupes often bring delight, but things can get dark when a swap goes horribly wrong. Such a cautionary tale emerged last week, when a woman with hopes of a sleek style learned that a spray nozzle with promises of heavy-duty hold does not a hair spray make. Here’s what we know so far about the unfortunate mistake made by the woman who has since been dubbed “Gorilla Glue Girl.”
Last week, 40-year-old Tessica Brown of Louisiana revealed on social media that a month ago, she ran out of her trusty Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray, a hair spray so strong, Pauly D and his immovable coif vouch for it. When Brown hit empty, she decided to seal her style with Gorilla Glue Spray Adhesive instead, a permanent, moisture-resistant, heavy-duty adhesive meant for “fabric, paper, wood, plastic, cardboard, foam, metal, and more!”
Unfortunately, Brown learned that “hair on a human head” is not included in “and more!” In the past month, she’s washed her hair (which is permanently stuck in a ponytail) 15 times, and it’s stiff as ever. In another video, Brown slathers on some Pantene shampoo, which simply sits on the surface of her scalp despite vigorous rubbing before being swiped away to reveal even glossier hardened hair that hasn’t budged.
Why did she use furniture glue?
Many people online have hypothesized that perhaps Brown mistakenly took Gorilla Glue for cult-favorite styling gel Moco de Gorila, a.k.a. Gorilla Snot. Like Gorilla Glue, Moco de Gorila comes in bright-yellow-and-orange packaging, features a picture of a gorilla, and is known for its holding powers. Got2b Glued spray also promises a “spike cement finish” and “rock hard hair,” so perhaps Brown felt comfortable leveling up to a Lowe’s-grade formula. In its ongoing reporting of the now-weeklong saga, TMZ says sources tell them Brown “felt it was okay because the product [Gorilla Glue] said multi-use,” and Brown recently told ET she had Gorilla Glue on hand because she used it before on non-hair materials and it worked pretty well. She figured it’d be fine in a pinch.
Can she get any of the glue out?
No. Brown says she turned to social media for advice on how to get rid of her “forever ponytail.” Her first attempt, involving coconut oil and tea tree oil, was an “Epic fail.” Next, she followed the advice of a dermatologist on TikTok, who recommended using acetone to break the glue’s bonds or turning to Goo Gone adhesive remover.
On Sunday, Brown posted a photo of the emergency room entrance at St. Bernard Parish Hospital, followed by a slideshow of hospital pics and a clip of an at-home removal attempt set to the song “Prom Queen” by Molly Kate Kestner. (Brown also posted the full, soundtrack-less, excruciating 2:45 minute video of the process on YouTube.)
This is awkward. Has Gorilla Glue said anything?
On Monday, the brand tweeted its condolences. This came after TMZ reported Brown spent 22 hours in the ER, where health-care workers applied acetone to her hair, which “burned her scalp and only made the glue gooey before hardening back up.” The outlet claimed that Brown hired an attorney and was “weighing litigation against Gorilla Glue,” because while the product’s label warns against use on eyes, skin, or clothing, it does not mention hair. Yet on Tuesday, Brown told ET she “never, ever said that.”
Is Brown getting any help?
Since airing her struggle, Brown has gone viral. Her original admission now has 24.9 million views on TikTok, and as of Wednesday, the GoFundMe she originally launched with a goal of $1,500 to fund the wigs people cautioned she’d need has raised almost $18,000. Many commenters on Instagram, where Brown is now verified, have posted things like, “I thought it was funny at first but now I really feel bad.” And some famous people have sent their condolences:
TMZ also reports that Brown has the support of a friend who on Tuesday applied Goof Off, a heavy-duty remover of “spots, stains, marks and messes,” to Brown’s hair. The friend managed to hack off Brown’s ponytail, a style that’s notoriously painful even when it’s not permanently glued to the scalp. Brown has also posted emoji-laden text updates thanking everyone for the outpouring of support.
On Tuesday, TMZ reported that Brown is flying to Los Angeles to see Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Obeng — a trip Brown has confirmed with another emoji-filled post. According to TMZ, Obeng is confident he can remedy the sticky situation in two to three days’ time using medical-grade glue remover. The outlet estimates the procedure would run around $12,500, but says Obeng will be doing the procedure for free because he “feels so bad for Tessica.”
We hope Brown and her scalp emerge safely on the other side.
Update: It worked!
Early Thursday morning, TMZ reported the Gorilla Glue has successfully been removed from Brown’s hair, and they have video of the procedure to prove it. In total, the removal process required four hours, light anesthesia, and application of Obeng’s special concoction of medical-grade adhesive remover, aloe vera, olive oil, and acetone. In a separate video, the doctor explains that he first tested the successful solvent on a skull wearing human hair and extensions that had been sprayed with the adhesive. He tells TMZ that because of his chemistry background, he knew that “any compound, any compound can be broken down,” and yes, that includes you, Gorilla Glue.
Though Brown suffered a lot of irritation along her hairline post-procedure, Obeng says she’s “very, very lucky” she did not sustain any major damage to her scalp. Brown is now able to run her fingers through some of the length Obeng was able to retain, scratch any itches, and finally get a good night’s sleep, unobstructed by the tension of a stuck scalp and the sharp remnants of a frozen ponytail.
This post has been updated.