Hazel has been a nail artist for over 12 years and has extensive experience in all aspects of nail treatments but has a great passion for nail art designs. She has won over 50 awards to date including Nail Professional of the Year, Scratch Stars Mixed Media and Nail Stylist and multiple competition wins and places. She is an International nail competition judge.
Hazel runs a successful salon and independent training academy with educators throughout the UK teaching her methods. She is also the Official UK Akzentz professional gels distributor and has her own range of brushes and products.
Things you can do to prevent overexposure and allergies
Use the correct nail lamp for your system.
We often hear nail professionals asking, ‘Can I use the lamp I got online to cure XYZ gel?’
The answer is no, any old lamp will not do. It needs to be a lamp matched to the system you are using to ensure a full cure- it might ‘feel’ and ‘look’ like your gel is fully cured but unless you are a chemist/manufacturer testing properly you simply cannot be sure. Product can appear to look and feel cured at just 50% cured. Under cured product is a leading cause of nail product allergy. If you don’t want to get an allergy, don’t chance it. Many people complain “I can’t get a lamp for every brand I use”, my answer to this would be to use less brands! Find one or two that offer a good range and invest in the brand properly -lamp and all. If you can’t afford to invest in a brand properly then please don’t do it at all, stick with one, it’s not worth the risk.
Do not touch uncured/under-cured product, this includes both gel and acrylic systems
Whether shaping a brush with your fingers, wiping product off the skin with your own nail, leaning on the pad you have wiped your brush on or touching the skin around your nail with your brush during application… getting product on your skin can lead to allergy. Remember nail products are designed for use on the nails not the skin.
No one is perfect and on occasions a mistake may happen, and you may get a small amount of product on the surrounding skin, don’t panic. Use a clean dry brush to remove it immediately.
Don’t forget the tacky layer! The tacky film sitting on top of gel products is uncured product. This happens when the oxygen in the air inhibits curing. Don’t touch this with your fingers and ensure you wipe it off with care so as not to get any of the residue on to the client’s skin. Use a lint free wipe with gel cleanser and place the pad onto the nail. Press down and pull the pad from the cuticle area down towards the free edge, do not rub back and forth.
Use brands together in full
(i.e same brand base/top/colour, same brand monomer liquid to polymer powder.)
Brands make their products compatible with their own line, mixing brands can mean the products aren’t compatible with each other, were not chemists and should not mix chemicals or pretend we know best…it’ll be ok!! Results of this can lead to under cured product. Whilst different brands may use the same chemical ingredients, differing amounts of the individual components can make a big difference in compatibility.
Powders, for example, have varying amounts of curing agents in them, with the liquid controlling the speed of cure. These are balanced by brands to work together, so if a tech mixes a powder containing less curing agent with a monomer from a different brand that sets slowly, the cure will take a lot longer, meaning the tech will file under cured product and the client will wear under cured product. If used with its own powder the slow set monomer will ensure proper curing in the slower timing by having more curing agents in its powder to offset the slow setting speed. As techs we won’t know how much curing agent is in our products to make that call ourselves. Contact with uncured product can then over time lead to allergy for client and/or tech.
A Catalyst is needed to control the speed of the reaction. An initiator is needed to start the reaction.
Liquid monomer usually contains a mixture of monomers, stabilizers, catalysts, cross linkers and other additives.
Powder usually contains polymers, copolymers, initiator, pigments and other additives.
The contents & amounts of the different ingredients do vary from brand to brand and that is why it is important not to mix different brands of liquid monomers and polymer powders together. Each brand of monomers and polymers have been specifically made to work together.
Good quality, thick gloves will protect you from accidental touching of the skin however it is most important to work safely & correctly. You can get barrier creams like ‘gloves in a bottle’ for additional protection if you feel you need it. Wear gloves when using or decanting products. Ideally nitrile gloves and they should be to EN 374-3 standard or higher, although these can sometimes be hard to find, so look for a min 0.19mm thick glove or wear 2 x thinner gloves. If you wear gloves, ensure you change your gloves between each customer.
Keep your work area tidy.
Always ensure your nail desk is kept clean and free from dust. Change your paper towels after each client and if necessary, after each stage of the service. It is very easy to forget, and you’ll end up resting your arm on the dust and/or into paper towel that has had monomer wiped on it and develop an allergic reaction there.
If you wipe monomer in your brush onto a pad/paper towel, ensure that it is kept to the side of you away from where you rest your arms. When you have finished your application always throw the dirty pad/paper towel straight into a metal lined bin, always make sure you’re wearing the appropriate protective clothing. At the end of the day make sure you remove the bin bags from the salon. Never pour monomer or acetone down the sink as this can melt pipes and cause problems to water life
Perfect Your Mix Ratio.
Many techs work too wet but using beads that are not the correct ratio means the product won’t be able to fully cure leading to under cured dust landing on your skin during filing.
Usually coloured powders are used wetter than core powders to enable time to create a design. Every brand is different so always check with the manufacturer on how to correctly use their products and jump on a class they may offer so you can get hands on practical training to ensure your using it correctly.
Extraction & Ventilation
Acrylic dust particles are usually heavier and will drop down, into your working space whilst gel dust particles are much finer and stay in your breathing space. Whether hand filing or e filing we recommend you look into dust extraction.
Consider salon ventilation so that dust/vapors in your working zone are extracted to the outside or pass through a filter system – also called a source capture system. Source capture systems should include dust and vapor filters (active carbon filter or equivalent)
Each company will have a variety of extraction units available to suit the individuals needs based on the amount of work they do, it’s always best to do your own research and ask the supplier for their advice on which is best.
What If You Think You Have Already Developed An Allergy?
Visit your local GP and discuss your symptoms, you should be able to get an allergy test.
Once you have determined which ingredients you are allergic to, find products that don’t contain them. This information can be found on the labels of the products and/or the MSDS also called an SDS. These are available from the manufacturer and most will have this information as a download from their website.
If you haven’t already, follow the advice given in this manual. An allergy to nail products could lead to you not being able to do your job and also not being able to wear nails.
Prevention is better than cure!
Read Part 1: Understanding Chemicals & Overexposure
Read Part 3: Legally Registered Products