Precautions When Doing Your Own Nails and Using Gel
Avoid the development of allergic reactions to gel products
When using gel products, there are a few precautions to take to ensure that you avoid developing allergic reactions to gel and other nail products.
When applying any kind of gel to the nails, avoid getting product on the skin as much as possible or at all. If you do get product on the skin, clean off the gel immediately using a wooden cuticle stick (also called an orange wood stick) to gently scrape off the gel or using a cotton swab with acetone to clean the gel off. Also make sure to cure the gel properly, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure your UV/LED lamp has the instructed amount of wattage to properly and fully cure gel products. The minimum wattage required to properly cure most gel polish is 36 watts. Note that thicker gels, such as 3D gels may often require longer cure time and sometimes, a higher wattage to fully cure.
Ingredients such as hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA) and isobornyl acrylate are often used in gel products to better adhere gel to the natural nails. While high quality gel brands (including the gel brands available at Sweetie Nail Supply) generally contain safe levels for proper usage, overexposure through contact with the skin or improper gel curing to these ingredients in uncured gel can possibly lead to a development of allergic reactions, causing symptoms that can include swelling, redness, itchy rashes, and dry scaly skin. Once an allergy to HEMA and isobornyl acrylate or other gel product ingredients develop, it is often irreversible and can result in no longer being able to use gel products without a reaction.
If you are just starting out on your nail journey with gels, sometimes getting gel on the skin can occur as you practice gel application. If this is the case, try opting for HEMA-free gels such as mithmillo or DVOK to minimize the possibility of sensitization, although you should still be careful to not get gel on the skin. Another option is to use clear tape or a peel-off liquid (latex and latex-free options) to protect the skin surrounding the nails as you practice and improve your gel application.
Always consult with a healthcare professional if symptoms occur or if you have known HEMA allergies to determine whether HEMA-free gels are appropriate for your use.
Prevent thin and weakened nails
Nail preparation often requires buffing the nails to remove oils and shine while removal often requires filing down gel for easy soak-off. Whether you use a hand file or e-file, it’s important to gently buff the nails during preparation and file down gel while leaving a thin coat of gel on the nails during removal, as over-buffing and over-filing can create thin and weak nails.
Preventing thin and weakened nails also mean not picking or peeling off gel from the nails. Always invest time in proper removal by filing down the gel. Then use acetone or gel remover to safely remove remaining gel with a gel removal tool to gently scrape off remaining gel.
If you’re changing out gel color or nail designs frequently, wear fingerless hand gloves
Although periodic exposure to UV/LED nail lamps during nail appointments every so often is generally safe, frequently changing out gel color and nail designs every few days or weekly may require some protection. If you’re a DIYer who likes to change out gel color and nail designs frequently, wear fingerless nail gloves. This will help reduce exposure to UV light from nail lamps, as overexposing the skin to UV light may lead to darkening of the skin and the development of premature skin aging.
Protect your lungs
When working with gels and other nail products, it is important to work in a well-ventilated area to allow fresh air circulation. Compared to acrylic monomers, gels have noticeably less odor, but the acrylates and other ingredients in gels may still give off subtle fumes. It’s important to keep your area well-ventilated to allow fresh air to circulate, especially if you are working with gels all day long as a nail service provider.
More importantly, when buffing the nails or removing gel, especially with an e-file, it is extremely important to use a nail dust extractor and wear a dust mask. This helps reduce nail dust and product particles from being airborne and reduces the potential inhalation of these fine particles created during product removal.
If you do nails frequently, it is also a good idea to invest in an air purifier using HEPA certified filters, meaning it has been tested to trap at least 99.97% of fine airborne particles with a size of .3 microns, to help capture nail and product dust that may not have been captured by a nail dust extractor. It’s an extra precautionary step to protect your lungs.
Avoid overusing other nail related chemicals
Overexposure to other nail products may sometimes cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. That’s why it’s important to minimize the use of acetone and cleansing alcohol and avoid frequent skin contact with these products. If you are a nail service provider, wear gloves to reduce alcohol, acetone, and other nail products coming into frequent contact with your skin as you are likely to be using these products often.
If you do your own nails at home, make sure you are only using nail cleansers, cleansing alcohol, and acetone when necessary. Plan and streamline your steps to make your process more efficient so you can minimize the need to cleanse the nails often. For removal, file off top gel and gel color and keep soak-off time to only 10-15 minutes (Subscribe to Sweetie Nail Supply for 10% off and receive a free nail guide including more in-depth instructions on gel removal). If there are any cuts or open wounds, be careful to avoid getting products on these areas.
Use peel-off base coat to reduce frequent acetone removal
If you like changing out gel color or or nail looks frequently, you might want to consider using a peel-off base coat such as Jello Jello One Kill Remover + Peel Off Base Coat Set or Ablliz Peel Off Base Gel for easy removal which is not only more convenient than acetone soak-off removal, but will also help prevent over dehydration of the nails and skin from the use of acetone. These peel off base coats can keep gel color and nail looks on for a good two to three weeks or until removal, while cutting down removal time and simplifying the gel removal process.
Taking these important precautionary steps will not only prevent and reduce overall health risks associated with doing nails, but also ensure that you can continue your nail journey with gels indefinitely and enjoy the fun experience and beauty of nail art.