Allergy or irritation


Help Support SalonGeek:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


New Member
Apr 18, 2021
Reaction score
Hey guys, hope you’re all doing ok.
I wondered if anyone could help shed some light on my current situation with gel nails. I’d be so grateful.

- severe irritation when gel is applied on finger nails. Random patch of contact dermatitis appears overnight on face and neck (no previous history of this)
- zero irritation when applied on toe nails
- no irritation when I go to the salon.

In depth (sorry for the essay):
I’ve had my nails done at salons before with no issues whatsoever. I decided to purchase a UV/LED lamp (about £15) and some random gel colours to play with at home. After watching pretty much every tutorial on YouTube on safety and application, I took the plunge and went for it. Once cured, I began to get a burning and itchy sensation around my cuticles and under my nails on the edge of the nail bed. The area got really hard as well after a few days, and the gel remained tacky no matter how long I cured them for (at one point 3 minutes). The itching was too much and so I quickly removed the gel and did some research on what could be the cause. I concluded that it could be the quality of the gel polish I bought (not a known brand), and most likely the cheap lamp.
So about 6 weeks later I invested in another lamp (Mylee) with a higher wattage (32v) and purchased some Shellac gel from eBay (big mistake). What I received were fakes! I know this now because when I applied them, the irritation began again but even worse than before and of course I went back to research and stumbled across a site that explained how to spot fake Shellac gels.
At this point I felt very foolish and sourced from a reputable retailer, and bought an even more expensive lamp (about £50) to be on the safe side. It is also UV/LED.

About 3 months had passed before I contemplated giving it another go. I wanted to be sure my hands and nails were healthy again after the previous attempt. After applying the gel and curing them again - the irritation came back. I was over it at this point :( (or so you’d think lol)

Fast forward again a few months and I’m back at the salon after lockdown was lifted. I know I know, I sound like a glutton for punishment but I just wanted to be completely sure it was the products I had and not gel polishes as a whole.
Couldn’t believe that my nails had zero irritation after the visit and I kept the set on for about 3 weeks until they grew out. No issues whatsoever.

So I purchased some more Shellac polishes and yet another lamp off Amazon. Nothing crazy in price and with predominately 5 star reviews.
I gave it another go, and you guessed it, irritation back full force.
But the weird thing about this attempt is that I did my feet for the first time at home and cured them first, and there was absolutely no irritation. Not even in a tingle. So of course I felt safe to do my hands and was surprised that the irritation came back full force and even stronger.
I’m so confused! :(
Surely if I was allergic my feet would’ve been irritated too? Oh and I woke up the next day with a small cluster of contact dermatitis near my mouth, and my neck. My GP confirmed what it was but said anything could’ve brought it on. I have no history of having dermatitis, but came across a source that stated it could be as a result of an allergic reaction, and that sometimes you get them in another part of the body not associated with where initial contact was made. Talk about confusion..
So I guess what I’m trying to figure out is:

- is there a definitive way to check if my Shellacs are authentic? I’m not sure I can list the vendor here but I can say they’re quite transparent and have nothing but excellent reviews on Google. They also have a physical store and stock all things for nail salons. Also their prices seem more appropriate (£12 for the 7.3ml, and £16 for top/base coats). Unlike the eBay purchases that were about a fiver a bottle!

I should also add that although the finished result looks and feels cured (not tacky after wipe), they were never rock hard solid like the salon visits. They’re solid enough not to smear or wrinkle. But say, I dug my nail into it hard enough, it would leave a mark. Also, I’m still able to peel them off with enough effort and picking, then acetone takes care of the harder parts. I usually stick to the time frame required for curing each layer and the base/top coat, but sometimes I leave them in the lamp for an extra 10seconds for reassurance.

- could I be allergic to Shellac as well? I went for this brand because I’ve read that they’re somewhat hypoallergenic, though that’s debatable if it still has methacrylate. And also, my feet were fine.

- could it be an incompatibility with the lamp? Many reviews state it cured their Shellac gels and that’s what made me go for it. I will happily upgrade to a CND branded lamp if that’s the case, but as I’m no pro, I’m open to receiving advice before making another purchase.

- am I just crap at application? I have very steady hands and am ambidextrous so I’m very careful not to touch skin. But it happens sometimes and I do my best to wipe off any residue before curing. Still not a professional though so I’m wondering if it’s just my technique (or lack of)

- could I have a UV allergy? I’ve read there’s such a thing as being photosensitive. But again I’m lost as to why my feet didn’t get the same burning and itchy irritation.

I’m going to try and book for a dermatologist, but that can’t happen for a weeks, so any advice/help welcome until then.

You’ve likely developed an allergy to the gel due to it not curing properly.
Being hard to the touch and being fully cured are NOT the same thing. It’s also not a matter of leaving the hands in the lamp for twice the length of time because if the lamp isn’t matched to the product, it simply won’t cure it.

Unfortunately, its not illegal to sell these UV lamps even though they are not remotely fit for purpose.

If you’d completed a recognised course of training, you’d already know all of this.

I’d strongly advise you leave it to the pro’s in the future because if you do develop an allergy to methacrylates, it’s for life and can affect you far more than just not being able to get your nails done. Methacrylates are used in a variety of situations including some medical products.

Latest posts