The strength of CA glue is that it will bond to anything — which is also its challenge. But there is a short list of things it doesn’t stick to — and most of them aren’t easy to find for surface protection.
In general, particularly when you are using an activator, CA will be happy to find things to stick to.
While this isn’t listed in the most popular article for “what does CA glue not stick to”, if you search on how to glue polyethylene, it’s often being discussed at the same time as polypropylene as something that is hard to glue.
My recommendation for performance, price, and availability would be to look for polyethylene gloves, either disposable or not depending on what you prefer.
I ended up getting these polyethylene gloves because they are thin, cheap, disposable, and it’s not an issue if some CA ends up adhering to them: Disposable Clear Plastic Gloves.
Alternatively, you can use something like painter’s tape (aka masking tape) to tape over your fingers to protect them (especially if you are using paper towels.)
If you are using paper towels, consider slightly thicker gloves (e.g. I have a set of polyethylene gardening gloves) if you are using my preferred method of applying the CA glue, because I found the heat uncomfortable on my finger otherwise.
To protect my jeans and other surfaces, I use a polyethylene sheet cut into appropriate-sized pieces. Here’s an example: HDX 10 ft. x 25 ft. Clear 6 mil Plastic Sheeting
The important part is having something to protect yourself and any surfaces that it may touch that you care about.
Are you aware that you could get burned if CA glue fell on your jeans and why paper towels could be a problem with CA glue? Read my article on CA Glue Safety: Natural Materials.
For the curious, here’s what I’ve learned about other plastics and additional research I did after reading the Starbond article.
None of the information here is certified or warrantied in any way. I am a hobbiest and sharing the best information I’ve learned, but I may be 100% wrong on everything and your safety is always your responsibility and you should verify and confirm information for yourself. Where possible I have included links to serve as a starting point for research for you.
Acetal Homopolymer/Copolymer (Delrin and Celcon)
I have been unable to tell if this includes both Delrin and Celcon, the two types of acetal plastics, or just Delrin. I suspect “both” since this article from 3M talks about how both are hard to glue, and this article talks about how they are very similar for most uses. The 3M article also notes how to use CA glues to bond them with the addition of a primer.
I haven’t actually tested this, because it’s not a coating used on gloves, but if you were looking for a surface to work with glue on, an acetal sheet may be a great choice (though if you use odorless you may run into problems.)
I was unable to find any polypropylene coated gloves other than these, and they aren’t useful because they are a loose cotton weave and the glue would easily get on your fingers between the holes.
PTFE (e.g. Teflon)
The only gloves I was able to find that were PTFE-coated are expensive, bulky ones like these cryogenic gloves.
HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)
HDPE has polyethylene at its base, but is a high density version, which I presume is why it’s more resistant to CA glue than regular polyethylene.
Plastic wrap is LDPE (low density polyethylene), making it an interesting option for protecting larger surface areas though I haven’t tried it yet.
All my “Before you start” with CA glue articles: