Allergic to Nail Gel? Here’s How To Avoid Skin Allergies

January 28, 2024

There are many people who are allergic to nail gel. Why? Well, skin allergies are reactions of the skin to allergens. Allergens are substances present within nature and cosmetic products which can cause the skin to break out into rashes, resulting in redness, itching, blisters and general skin damage.

Many top brand names are using safe, free of allergen ingredients to lessen the chance of getting an allergy, such as “9-Free” nail polishes formulated without formaldehyde, dibutyl phthalate, toluene, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, lead, paraben, or ethyl tosylamide. But even with these developments, there is no guarantee that chemically infused products we use may not cause adverse reactions with the skin, either immediately or over a period of time due to repeated and prolonged contact.

The two types of allergic reactions which may occur as a result of cosmetics use are irritant contact dermatitis and allergic contact dermatitis. The irritant reaction occurs when the skin comes in contact with an irritating substance which causes damage to the skin. The skin breaks out into rashes and may also develop blisters if further irritated through scratching. The contact dermatitis occurs due to prolonged contact or repeated usage of a cosmetic product.. This reaction may be a result of weeks or even years of usage of a product and need not always develop overnight. The amount of the chemical exposed also plays a role in the development of allergic reactions. The skin will become increasingly red, swollen and itchy the greater the presence of irritating chemicals. Cosmetic allergies are more common in women than men as they generally use cosmetics in larger quantities.

The most common areas for an allergic reaction are the facial area, hands and neck. However, other parts of the body may also develop reactions. Perfumes or fragrances are the most common triggers for allergic reactions but not the only ones. Other chemicals that cause allergic reactions include preservatives like formaldehyde present in nail care products, phenylenediamine found in hair dyes, thimerosal and so on.

If you are a professional in a salon, it is likely that you may suffer from overexposure to all or any of these chemicals and may develop a reaction after a period of time. This is especially true for nail care techs who are constantly exposed to and touching polishes, removers, acrylic and gel nail enhancement liquids all of which contain chemicals likely to cause allergic reactions.  Nail products contain acrylates and formaldehyde which may cause the reactions.

The main causes of skin allergies due to nail care and enhancement products are:

  • As UV gels are sticky, if cured improperly the gel tends to enter the natural nail bed and causes itching and warmness around the nail area. It is therefore important that the gel is cured for the recommended amount of time under a UV lamp. Remember to change the UV bulb regularly so that the curing quality is not affected.  This will allow for perfect curing and prevent the gel from getting onto your or your clients skin. Also apply very thin coats so that the gel cures well under the light and does not get all sticky on the nails.
  • Enhancement products which have to be mixed like a monomer (liquid) and a polymer (powder) in a ratio need to be ensured that it is done in the exact proportion. Incorrect mixing and calculations may result in improper curing which will in turn cause the gel to move from the nail onto the client’s skin. Cleaning off repeatedly with a brush may irritate the skin and make it reddish and itchy. Also ensure that you leave a tiny margin around the nail area and skin during application so that the gel does not get onto the skin.
  • Overfilling nails and making them weak will open up a likely cause for nails to develop an allergic reaction. This is because a thin nail plate will cause the product to easily enter the nail bed and damage the skin; use a nail and cuticle oil or cream to prevent this.
  • Other causes may be unclean work area, odors in the salon and unsterilized equipment

How To Treat An Allergic Reaction to Gel Nails

As a nail care tech you should always ensure that you keep your work area clean, keep the brushes free of gels and other liquids after use, keep all implements sterilized and conduct the nail care process in the right manner. This prevents the aggravation of allergies due to repeated and prolonged contact with gel products. There are also various salon disinfectant products such as micro-exfoliating hand polish and protective hand serum available to protect you against any allergic reactions.

You can also get skincare products that help you if you have become allergic to nail gel or any other beauty product. The OPI skincare products are great examples of this; they protect your skin against constant exposure to nail polish and other beauty products as well.

What about feet care? The Voesh Pedi in a box includes products such as Voesh MINT MIMOSA O2 FIZZ and Voesh RASPBERRY SORBET O2 FIZZ that take foot care to a new level.

We suggest doing some research to find disinfectants and other cosmetic products that help support long term skin health. Chemical exposure is a very real condition when using beauty products so staying informed and p


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