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.

Understanding Chemicals & Overexposure in the Nail Industry

A chemical is everything you can see & touch except electricity and light. Many people deem chemicals as bad and not good for you, but this isn’t true as all chemicals have a safe and unsafe level of exposure. Knowing and understanding the chemicals you work with and following manufacturers guidelines on safe levels will help prevent any overexposure.

Vapours in the air cause odours and rapidly evaporating liquids can give off large amounts of vapour. When working with your monomer ensure you keep the odours to a minimumby only using the amount you need for that client, dispose of any soiled towels in a lined metal bin, always replace the lid on your dappen dish as soon as you’ve finished using it.

When using gels ensures you are using the correct recommended lamp by your manufacturer. This ensures a full and proper cure.

All chemicals have a safe and unsafe level of exposure, Overexposure happens when you exceed the levels deemed as safe. Overexposure can affect both client and nail technician, this usually occurs when the individual is exposed repeatedly to a chemical over a long time. When using acrylics this is most likely to happen when unreacted product touches the skin and for gels it is usually due to uncured product sitting on the nail.

Skin irritations, itchiness of the skin & eyes can all be warning signs that overexposure has occurred, and if the use of the chemical continues it may cause the individual to become sensitive or allergic to it. If this occurs, it is recommended to then stop using that chemical, as you will have developed sensitivity to that particular product.

It is recommended that the client should seek medical advice if reaction/sensitivity has occurred. When the reaction has subsided, it may be possible to apply a different type of product. A test should be carried out first and recorded on their record card. For example: if a client becomes allergic to gel products then it’s likely that they will not be able to wear any type of gel products again, but acrylic may be suitable. If in doubt always send your client to get tested by their doctor before any treatment is performed.

A common thing many nail technicians do that could cause overexposure is wiping their brush on a paper towel and then leaning on it. Always be aware of this and ensure your paper towel is kept to the side of you not in front of you.

There are 3 ways that a chemical could enter your body and cause overexposure. These are classed as routes of entry:

  • Inhalation:by breathing in vapours or dust
  • Keep lids on pots when not in use, ensure adequate ventilation, dispose of waste correctly in metal bins with liners.
  • Absorption: through contact with the skin.
  • Use the correct application techniques, decant products safely & correctly wearing suitable protective garments.
  • Ingestion: by accidentally swallowing dust particles dropping onto food into uncovered drinks

ALWAYS Wash hands before eating and eat/drink away from your nail desk, use clean towels for every client, keep all products out of reach of children.

To become overexposed to a product and develop an allergy it usually means that there has been prolonged and repetitive contact with the skin.

Main reasons for this happening are:

  • uncured or under-cured product due to incorrect cure time or incorrect lamp used
  • Uncured dust product, this can happen when filling an under cured nail or when performing a soak off/removal of product
  • Wiping the sticky residue from gels
  • Using oversized acrylic brushes that hold a lot of liquid

There are many text books available to help you in your career as a nail technician, some we recommend are The Encyclopaedia of Nails, Doug Schoons: Nail Structure & Product Chemistry and Marian Newman’s: The Complete Nail Technician.

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Read Part 2: Prevention of Overexposure and Allergies

Read Part 3: Legally Registered Products

HazelDixon Nails Ltd AND Hazel Dixon Nail Artist Academy Ltd

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Hazel Dixon

Hazel Dixon

Hazel Dixon has her PTTLS Lvl4 Teaching Qualification, Lvl 3 NVQ Nail Treatments in Acrylic and Gel, Ezflow and CN master Artist, Akzentz Ace Educator, Kupa Uk education team leader and an International Independent Educator and Consultant.