HEMA AND GEL NAIL ALLERGIES

I’ve put together some more detailed information about HEMA as there is still so much confusion in the industry about this chemical.  The demand for HEMA free products is growing but this is due to a misunderstanding about it.  There is no need to be concerned about HEMA in products when they are responsibly manufactured in the EU, UK and USA and further advice about the safety of working with UV gels is followed.  One of the reasons UV gels are safer in the EU, UK or USA, is manufacturers in these areas follow EU and FDA legislations and will not use chemicals over the maximum concentrations stipulated by law, nor use chemicals that are banned for cosmetic use.  

HEMA, or hydroxyethyl methacrylate, is a monomer used as an adhesive in UV gel.  It has been an ingredient in UV gel formulations for over 30 years with no issues until recent years.  Due to its excellent adhesive properties, it is often mis-used in extremely high concentrations.  With the rise of irresponsibly formulated imported products, incorrect application or handling, as well as home use, many people become allergic to it from overexposure.  Due to this, it has been labelled as the number one allergen in UV gel.  The reality is that there are many other dangerous chemicals in imported products, usually not even present on the product label.  These include hydroxyethyl acrylate (HEA), which is a gateway allergen, far more dangerous than HEMA, and 1,6-Hexanediol diacrylate.  They also often contain high concentrations of isobornyl acrylate, another highly adhesive monomer, which is safe in low concentrations, and many other chemicals that aren’t used responsibly.

 

HEMA is very safe when used in low concentrations in responsibly formulated products, when thoroughly cured with the correct curing device and applied according to brand guidelines.  

 

The maximum concentration of HEMA permitted in UV gels stipulated by EU regulations is 30-35%.   In gels responsibly, and fully manufactured in the EU, UK or USA, it isn’t used higher than 25% – usually sitting around a maximum of 15%.  This concentration is nothing to be concerned about.

All UV gels, including HEMA free and hypoallergenic gels, contain many different chemicals and potential allergens.  One can become allergic to many different chemicals following overexposure, misuse, and by not following advice and application guidelines.  Choosing to work with HEMA free products is not safer, unless of course you or a client already has an allergy.

To avoid reactions it is important to follow the application guidelines and advice which applies to any UV gel product, and not only those containing HEMA.

Working safely with all UV Gels:

  • Use the brand’s lamp that has been tested to cure the product
  • Apply the gel according to the brand’s instructions. 
  • Apply gels thinly and build up in layers.  Thick layers may not fully cure
  • Cure for the correct time
  • Keep nail folds healthy and do not over-file the nail plate
  • Keep the product off the skin. If it touches the skin, clean it immediately with alcohol or acetone
  • Remove inhibition layers correctly
  • Keep bottles and jars clean
  • Wear gloves and keep them clean

Mint Tint use very low concentrations of HEMA in some gel polish shades (5-10%).  The only other products that contain HEMA are Flexi Base with 0.35% and Builder Gel with 2%.   These are extremely low concentrations and of no concern whatsoever, provided our lamp is used to cure our products and our application guidelines are followed.   All of our other products are HEMA free.

If one has an allergy then all UV gels should be avoided until they have an allergy test.  Switching to a HEMA free or hypoallergenic product is not going to guarantee you or the client will not react to it.  There could very possibly be another chemical they are allergic to, that is present in the HEMA free product.  Only when a dermatologist has provided a list of allergies can different products be tested.

 

I hope this provides a better understanding of this chemical.  If you have any questions at all please do get in touch.  You can always contact us on info@minttint.co.uk or through our social media.  (@minttintpro on Instagram, @minttintbeauty on Facebook).

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