Tessica Brown made a terrible mistake.
Brown, 40, exploded into Internet fame last week when she posted her saga to TikTok. She gained a massive following, more than 415,000, as she shared several attempts to free her hair from the bonds of Gorilla Glue.
In that first video, Brown vigorously rubbed at her hair. Her side-parted, carefully smoothed style tapered to an extension braid. There was not a single flyaway in sight, and her hair didn’t budge.
“I washed my hair 15 times and it. Don’t. Move.” she said, accentuating each word with a clap. “If you ever run out of Got2B glued spray, don’t ever ever use this unless you want your hair to be like that forever.”
That video has 19 million views and counting since she posted it last week, and her plight has stretched beyond TikTok to the rest of the social mediasphere. People have mocked her, expressed concern for her health and offered solutions for how she should get rid of one of the most powerful adhesives on the market atop her scalp.
In a subsequent post, she lathered shampoo on her inflexible strands. Her hair emerged unchanged.
“This is the life that I guess I’m going to have to live,” she said, suppressing a sob. When people realized that Brown had not pulled a big fake for attention, the concern started pouring in, along with a new nickname: #gorillagluegirl.
TikTok and Twitter users have been anxious for updates.
Sorry to all my work today but I am busy with this Gorilla Glue girl.— roxane gay (@rgay) February 4, 2021
Brown took some advice from her growing audience: She slathered coconut oil and olive oil on her strands, covered it with a plastic cap and left it overnight.
Gorilla Glue told TMZ that rubbing alcohol, a gentle combing and a delicate shampoo would likely be the best solution for Brown. Based on what she has shared, it seems unlikely that those suggestions would work for her.
“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,” Gorilla Glue tweeted, along with a warning that the glue is “not indicated for use in or on hair.”
Brown didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.
By Saturday, Brown’s lightheartedness faded when she revealed that she sought treatment at St. Bernard Parish Hospital in Chalmette, La.
She was sent home with sterilizing water and acetone wipes — commonly used for removing nail polish.
On Sunday, she updated her accounts to show that she had started the process of trying to remove what is presumably one of the worst mistakes of her life. Brown winced in pain as a woman applied the products to her scalp with gloved hands.
Sterile water has been treated in a way to make sure no microorganisms can be a source of infection, especially if the glue is causing irritation that could break down the skin and lead to an open wound, according to Jason Rizzo, a board-certified dermatologist, Mohs surgeon and research professor at the University at Buffalo.
Acetone, which has been used in some experiments on animals, can reduce the skin barrier and dry it out, he said.
Rizzo said it’s not clear whether Brown will suffer scarring.
“Both the treatment and the Gorilla Glue are going to depend on how her scalp reacts,” he said. “Not everyone has inflammatory reactions and not all inflammatory reactions cause scarring.”
Brown could be experiencing tension on her scalp, and if someone is pulling on it in the removal process, it could cause some level of scarring, he said.
“It’s not so much what’s going on in her hair but deeper layers of scalp,” he said, noting that the extent of her healing depends on how deeply her dermis and epidermis have been damaged.
The accidental TikTok star has set up a GoFundMe account that has raised more than $9,000 in the single day it was launched.
In a Monday Instagram post, she thanked friends and strangers for their support of her hair-freezing ordeal: “Please continue praying that I can get through this and keep my hair.”