Update 2/11: On Wednesday night, Dr. Obeng was able to successfully remove the Gorilla Glue from Brown’s hair after performing a three-hour procedure using a chemical treatment.
“The surgery went well,” Obeng told CBS Los Angeles. “Tessica is doing well. She’s awake. The hair crew is doing her hair.”
When Tessica Brown, a 40-year-old Louisiana teacher, ran out of Got2b Glued Blasting Freeze Spray — a common holding spray used to hold hair into place or lay lace front wigs — she used an alternative to achieve a slicked-down ponytail style. But, as she shared in a Feb. 3 TikTok, the product she chose, Gorilla Glue adhesive spray, was a “bad, bad, bad idea.”
“Y’all look, my hair, it don’t move,” Brown said as she ran her hand across her hair, which she claims has been stuck in place for a month. “You hear what I’m tellin’ you? It don’t move. I’ve washed my hair 15 times and it don’t move. “
Brown’s initial video has gone massively viral, viewed over 16 million times on TikTok and countless more times on other platforms. The story has taken on a life of its own, with multiple trending conversations on Twitter, reactions from major celebrities and a GoFundMe. So what do you need to know about Tessica Brown and Gorilla Glue? We break it all down.
First off: What is Gorilla Glue?
Gorilla Glue is an adhesive brand famous for its polyurethane formula that is described as “heavy-duty” and “industrial strength.” According to Gorilla Glue, its spray, which Brown used, “forms a clear, permanent bond that is moisture resistant and can be used on projects both indoors and out.” To remove Gorilla Glue from skin, the company’s FAQ section states: “While still wet, Gorilla Spray Adhesive can be removed by wiping adhesive with a dry cloth, and then washing the area with soap and water. Once cured, rinse well with water.” Responding to Brown on Twitter, the company reiterated the advice, writing, “We are sorry to learn about your experience! We do not recommend using our products in hair as they are considered permanent. You can try soaking the affected area in warm, soapy water or applying rubbing alcohol to the area.”
However, for Brown, this advice has been unsuccessful. In one video, she even aggressively rubs Pantene shampoo on her scalp to show that it did nothing to lift the adhesive. She became visibly upset as she wiped off the suds with a towel.
Efforts to remove have been ineffective
Brown reached her tipping point over the weekend and visited an emergency room for help solving her Gorilla Glue problem. In an interview on the Kiss 92.5 FM show Roz & Mocha, Brown described her experience saying healthcare workers attempted to use nail polish remover and saline water.
“It started to burn, she took the saline water and tried to cool it off. It burned so bad that my heart started beating too fast. She told me it looked like she could do it but it’s going to take at least 20 hours. I asked them can I go home? At least I’ll be home and be comfortable instead of laying in a hospital bed trying to get it all out,” she said.
After leaving, Brown shared on TikTok that her sister attempted to use acetone wipes and saline water on her hair, but the experience left her in pain.
According to Gorilla Glue’s website, the adhesive is 100 percent waterproof and experts say that adding moisture to the glue will encourage a curing process, which will make the compounds form a stronger bond, making the hair even harder and the glue much more difficult to remove.
Gorilla Glue’s official response
On Monday, Gorilla Glue released an official statement regarding Brown’s “unfortunate incident,” writing that they’re glad to see Brown is receiving medical treatment and wish her the best.
We are very sorry to hear about the unfortunate incident that Miss Brown experienced using our Spray Adhesive on her hair. We are glad to see in her recent video that Miss Brown has received medical treatment from her local medical facility and wish her the best. pic.twitter.com/SoCvwxdrGc
— Gorilla Glue (@GorillaGlue) February 8, 2021
Brown’s ongoing journey has captivated the internet. Celebrities including Cardi B, Roxane Gay, Beyoncé’s hairstylist Neal Farinah, Wendy Williams and more have even weighed in. “I’m glad mfs actually supporting her thru this. When I watched the video the second time it was hard to laugh cause I could tell shorty genuinely didn’t know she had put one of the worlds most powerful adhesives in her shit. I hope she recovers well,” Chance the Rapper wrote.
The View co-host Sunny Hostin also made a point that while many have made jokes at Brown’s expense, the topic around the politics of Black women and hair is a much bigger issue.
So many are being dismissive of #gorillagluegirl. Given the history of how black women are targeted and still battle the pervasive belief that our natural hair is unprofessional, unkempt, or in some way “a statement” pls show her some grace and understanding. https://t.co/t6k8JHYKfv
— Sunny Hostin (@sunny) February 6, 2021
Kenyette Tisha Barnes agrees, posting on Facebook that the “situation is deeper than mistakenly using a product.”
“The situation with the young lady who mistakenly use Gorilla Glue industrial strength glue spray isn't about comedy,” Tisha Barnes wrote. It about the manifestation of Black women consistently being told that our hair is ugly and we need to go through extreme measures in order to make it presentable. What's really sad is she's probably going to lose all of her hair and it's never going to grow back.”
Thanks to the attention, Brown is getting help. She created a GoFundMe, which has raised more than $14,000. According to a TMZ report, she had also hired legal counsel to look at lawsuit options, but later denied the claims in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. Then there’s the plastic surgeon, Dr. Michael Obeng, director of MiKO Plastic Surgery, who is offering his services for free. TMZ says that he’ll pay for Brown’s flight to his Los Angeles, Calif. office and then perform a $12,500 procedure.
Following the successful procedure, Brown showed her appreciation to Dr. Obeng on her Instagram page, writing "Words cannot even explain how I feel about @drmichaelkobeng you really gave me my life back and I am forever grateful."
Over the weekend, Brown's manager reportedly told TMZ that she would be donating $20,000 of the more than $23,000 she made on GoFundMe to Restore Foundation, which was founded by Dr. Obeng and helps to provide specialized plastic, and reconstructive surgery to people around the world. She plans on donating the rest to a family in her hometown and will keeping $1,000 to help pay off hospital bills from her ER visit.
Brown has been called “opportunistic” because of these latest moves, which include signing on Mama June’s agent Gina Rodriguez as her manager and getting verified on Instagram.
“I’m just over the talk shows and the hate groups because they don’t know me. And there are some people out there saying oh well she did this for clout,” Brown told TMZ of the backlash on Tuesday, also saying that she’s experienced headaches and tingling. “I did this to get help. ... I never thought it was going to get this far.”
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