Thu. Mar 21st, 2024

The dangers of doing Gel X nails at home

By Megan Kelly Feb 19, 2024

While doing gel nails at home might seem simpler and cheaper than heading to the salon, there has been a steep rise in allergic reactions, according to the British Dermatology Association.

Dr. Stern, a dermatologist based in NYC says you can experience immediate contact dermatitis or a delayed hypersensitivity reaction. Contact dermatitis occurs immediately after exposure and “causes burning or pain and subsequent inflammation, redness and even blistering and lifting of the nail off the nail bed (onycholysis).”

A delayed hypersensitivity reaction is an immune response that occurs in someone who has had repeated exposure to the chemical. “Over time, the person’s immune system learns to recognize and react to that chemical, so the slightest bit of exposure can trigger the reaction into a full inflammatory cascade,” says Dr Stern. So, you can suddenly experience a reaction, even if you have done your nails multiple times with no issues – and once you have developed a sensitivity, it can stay with you permanently.

At-home kits can be riskier, due to the lack of experience people have with these products and reactions are more likely to occur when uncured products come into contact with the skin.

Content creator Alina-Gene Lee took to Tik Tok to warn people about the dangers of becoming allergic to acrylates, which make up a huge number of products we use daily such as skin and hair products, dental and medical equipment, cosmetic glue and even acrylic paint.

She said: “At first it appeared to be an allergy associated with the use of gel X products, but I soon realised that it was much deeper than that and I was actually allergic to any product which has acrylates in it.”

Lee continued: “When I go to the dentist, I can’t use crowns or get fillings due to the glue or get veneers or dentures. I potentially have a genetic condition where I would need a hip replacement in the future and doctors adhere things to the bone using acrylate-based glue which means my options are now limited.”

Lee is hardly the first or last person to come forward on the social platform with warnings about doing your nails at home, but she hopes her videos will help someone else be more informed of the dangers, so they don’t end up in the same situation as her.

“Once a person is sensitized to the allergen, they are often allergic for life,” says Dr. Stern. One type of acrylate is hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA), which a team of researchers called “the most commonly sensitizing methacrylate”.

The good news is that there are a small-but-growing number of HEMA-free gel nail products that don’t contain acrylate. Although most are professional brands which require you to be a licensed nail technician, ‘Après Nail’ offers a HEMA-free formulation of its Gel-X polish, as does the Paris-based brand ‘Manicurist’ and UK-based brand ‘Glitterbels’.

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