How your at home gel polish kit could be affecting your health.

So, you haven’t had a nail appointment since December. Your Christmas gel polish complete with snowflakes, reindeers and ALL the glitter, is either hanging on by a thread whilst your nails resemble something of Freddie Krueger, or it has ‘come off’ completely (you picked it off – it’s ok, I forgive you) and left your nails in a mess underneath. Either way they’re currently looking more halloween than their former Christmas glory. So I totally understand that at this point there is a huge temptation to buy a gel kit online to do your own nails.

But before you do, let me talk you through a few things which might make you understand why it’s not such a good idea.

Pro’s: Convenient-ish – But believe me, when the novelty wears off it’s a pain in the bum doing your own nails 😆

Cons: Not as easy as it looks. Finish won’t be as neat as in salon. Limited choice of colours and finishes. Becomes a boring chore that you will eventually stop doing anyway. Hazardous chemicals and lack of chemistry/product knowledge in untrained hands is dangerous. Higher potential to develop allergies, irritation, blisters, burns, and respiratory problems. Products widely available to non professionals may contain hazardous ingredients. Brand name or ‘Professional’ products available to the public may be counterfeit.

Want to know more? Read on…

First off, and this the most important point I want to make; Even the very best quality and most ‘organic’ of these gel polish products still contain highly irritating, harsh chemicals that are subject to stringent safety protocols in the development and production stages. Whilst there are many reputable professional brands that only use safe permitted ingredients, there are also many, ‘professional’ and non professional, that don’t. 

Every product that enters the UK market must have correct safety paperwork, but often this paperwork gets falsified with incorrect ingredients listings, ingredients omitted because they are banned in that country, or ingredients quantities listed at safe amounts when they are in fact much higher. Products don’t get tested at point of entry so it doesn’t get spotted and these unsafe products enter the market ready for unsuspecting consumers to buy.

It’s really difficult for any of us to know which of these products are safe or not. Even for me as a professional, I only have the word of the manufacturer and the paperwork they supply to go by, which as I’ve already said, is easily falsified. The only way to know if a product is what it says it is, is by having it tested, which none of us mere mortals have the means to do. This means it’s mostly down to research, and trust. And would I trust buying gel polish off someone I don’t know or had never heard of on an online marketplace? NOT A CHANCE!

Even if you’re purchasing one of the big name trustworthy products, be careful as they can be fakes. It sounds far fetched, but it happens. It’s BIG business. I’ve had people say to me they’ve bought brand name professional products online cheaper than I can buy them for. There is definitely something fishy going on!

Chemically unsafe and counterfeit products aside, let’s say you do have a product that complies with safety standards 100%, how you use it contributes to its overall safety too. So tell me this, can you paint your nails without getting any on your skin, on both hands?! Or does it look like a child has painted them? Because if the answer is no, you are not a suitable candidate for a DIY at home gel polish. These products are not meant to touch the skin, and even a ‘safe’ product touching the skin can cause serious allergies and irritation (not to mention that it would look awful), so imagine the harm that an unsafe and untrusted product would cause.

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Then we move on to the lamps; UV/LED gel products require a lamp to cure them. However, the photo initiators used in the products to trigger the curing process all cure within a very specific wavelength of light, which will differ from one product to the next, and the lamps all have a specific nanometer output within a narrow range. So does the gel polish you’re looking at have a compatible lamp that’s been lab tested to fully cure it? Yes, a lamp might come in the kit, but that doesn’t mean to say it’s been compatibility tested under lab conditions. They’ve most likely tried it and said ‘Oh yes, that’s hardened, that will do’ and stuck their brand sticker on it and put it in a kit. The problem with this is that UV/LED gel products can feel ‘hard’ at around 40% cured, so just because it feels hard doesn’t mean it’s properly and fully cured.

Why is having a fully cured product so important? Why isn’t ‘hard’ adequate enough? Because if it isn’t fully cured you’ll be walking around with uncured, unstable, dangerous chemicals on your fingernails, which will gradually transfer onto your skin. It can also cause problems when the product is filed prior to the next application, as the filing dust gets on your hands, chest, arms, legs, not to mention that you’re breathing it in. This can lead to serious skin irritation, blisters, burns, your nails could even lift away from your nail beds (Onycholysis), or you could develop life long allergies to nail products or even develop respiratory problems. 

According to a report from The British Association of DermatologistsIt is when the uncured products come into contact with any part of the skin that sensitisation to the chemicals can occur. This is very likely when people apply a product themselves, or if insufficient training has been given to the nail technician. Dermatologists are urging the public to be particularly wary of gel and gel polish home kits, where insufficient curing can also increase the risk of an individual developing an allergy.”

They then go on to say, “Allergic reactions may involve the nails loosening, or a severe red, itchy rash, not just on the fingertips, but potentially anywhere on the body that has come into contact with the nails, including the eyelids, face, neck and genital region. Very rarely, symptoms such as breathing problems can occur.” FULL ARTICLE: 09/08/2018 – Dermatologists issue warning about UK artificial nail allergy epidemic

As you can see is no small thing, allergic reactions to methacrylates can cause breathing problems, it’s that serious. 

To be quite honest, even having a treatment in salon can be risky as there is some very poor education and standards out there. Just because someone has a certificate doesn’t mean they are a professional. You’ve probably learned more theory from this blog post than is taught in a lot of courses.

Having previously taught nail technology for a company that has their own chemist, I am incredibly fortunate to have knowledge on these issues that many don’t, which drives me to offer the best products and service I can. I only use professional reputable products that I am absolutely certain comply with the given standards, and I always use the complete system from start to finish for guaranteed safety. So always research your salon, check the products they’re using are reputable and safe and check they’re using the full system including the correct, compatible lamp.

Essentially, there’s more to ‘doing a gel polish’ than meets the eye. If you want your nails to look better, cut down the length, file them into shape, put on a couple of coats of clear nail polish, use your Slixir hand cream and apply cuticle oil to the nail and surrounding skin every day.


Full System: Compatible products from the same brand for every stage of service.

Photo initiator: A chemical component that absorbs light and converts it into the energy needed to drive the polymerisation/curing process.