Nail allergy


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New Member
Jan 10, 2021
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Hi all

I have been painting my nails with Shallac for almost 10 years with no problems.

A friend of mine who is a nail tech suggested giving bluesky a try. I listened to her and it was the biggest mistake. I started having awful reactions to it including painful and itchy nails, skin peeling off around my nails and rashes up my hands, arms and on my face. I stopped using the product right away and googled what happened to find I am not alone. So many people have had reactions to it, this stuff should be illegal!

I left my nails for a period of time to recover and bought myself some new CNC shellac colours and a new CND UV light to ensure my nails were being cured effectively. Unfortunately now I am also having reactions to shellac (although not as severe as the bluesky reactions) and so I feel I have developed an allergy to gel polishes :( I just wish I had never tried the bluesky products as I now don’t know what to do with my nails apart from not painting them at all.

Does anyone have any advice? Has this happened to you and did you find a product that you were able to use?

I have never worn fake nails as my nails are naturally very strong and rarely chip so this would be my last resort. Also, standard nail varnish is also not an option as I am very physical and it would all be chipped off in 5 minutes. What else can I do 😢

Thank you in advance
You don’t say if you have been a DIYer or if you have always gone to a reputable salon or manicurist.
If you aren’t a licensed professional, you may not know the proper application. Watching a tech do a service for you doesn’t count, neither does watching tutorials online qualify a person.

It is unlikely that you will be able to wear gel polish again, especially since Shellac is pretty low on the list of allergic reactions.

It took about four years for my hands to heal after allergic reactions to improper application of hard gels.

Then another three years before I tried Shellac. I was able to wear it without a problem, but only occasionally since I didn’t want to excite any reaction.

Nice that you have good natural nails.
Thank you for your quick reply. I did my diploma in nail technology several years ago so I’m aware of the correct application and I never had an issue until I switched to bluesky. I’m thinking the same, that it’s unlikely I can now use any gel polishes again unless I apply them every now and again for special occasions, not allowing for the build up.
So sorry this happened to you. I’m not familiar with BlueSky. I live in the US.

I recently posted about Gelie-Cure from Zoya. I’ve been a loyal fan of Zoya polishes since they came on the market.
They introduced this product as a ‘Demi-Gel’ for salon or travel use. It is a super thin coating that helps polish stay put longer.

It has a repair cream that you apply first and rub into the nail plate. Interesting concept. I sold these kits to my acrylic and gel polish clients when we went to lock down in my area. They did fine learning the technique, but weren’t crazy about the small travel lamp. It folds into the size of a regular iPhone.

I don’t know what part(s) of gel you are reacting to and we can’t diagnose or comment on medical issues. So, I can’t say that this product may work for you. I only put it on a few of my fingers for a few days to see how it worked. I didn’t have a reaction.
The most common artificial nail product allergen is an ingredient called HEMA. However, this is also a cross sensitiser, which means that it also encourages allergies to other ingredients to develop. So someone who visits a dermatologist for a patch test and as a Nail Tech also has the optional Meth Acrylate patch test, will often find that they are allergic to 3 or 4 ingredients - some of which can be found in HEMA-free monomers, gels and gel polishes.

Another problem is that once you develop an allergy to one ingredient, it is always easier and faster to develop new allergies. A HEMA allergy just makes the situation worse.

Like others, I recommend that you visit your GP for a referral to a dermatologist. However, the waiting times in some parts of the UK are up to 2 years apparently (this was before COVID, may be longer now).

My concern is that you are now reacting to CND Shellac, which like our own IKON.IQ PRIMA gel polish, is a hypoallergenic product. Hypoallergenic products typically do not contain any of the higher risk ingredients found in the Meth Acrylate patch test.

In truth, while you should get a patch test, this probably won't help you very much. That's because :
  • you most probably are also allergic to other ingredients not in the patch test (otherwise you would not react to Shellac)
  • your immune system can have become so sensitive that it reacts to ingredients you are not allergic to, even very low allergy risk ingredients used in hypoallergenic products.
  • Hypoallergenic means lower allergy risk, not zero allergy risk

I suspect that this will leave you with several options:

1) find a different hypoallergenic product that doesn't contain any of the ingredients within Shellac. If you message me, I will send you a list - there are very few options available.
2) you try a silk/filber wrap system or dip system that is based on cyanoacrylate. It is quite rare to develop an allergy to this ingredient (the vapours should be avoid though and you should have good ventilation or ideally, a dust/vapour filter system)
3) you use nail polish, but avoid the "gel" or "long lasting" polishes, as these may include acrylate or methacrylate ingredients

As a general advice, it is very important to avoid Chinese manufactured products. Most of these contain higher risk ingredients, used in higher amounts to obtain extreme levels of adhesion, amounts that no professional USA/EU product chemist would use as that increases the allergy risk dramatically. Chinese products are designed to be cheap - less than $1 per bottle! You cannot buy quality and safety at that price.

Of course, genetics are different and some people, will be able to use Chinese products and not develop an allergy, even if they don't work cleanly. But this is like Russian Roulette - someone will eventually get hurt and one thing is for sure, we are seeing many, many more allergies since Chinese products came on the market and even from student Nail Techs - something that was unheard of in the past. Every week I receive emails asking for help from Nail Techs and hobbyists because of this.

There is one other important point. Allergies can only occur if there is skin contact of uncured or under-cured artificial nail product. You are a very experienced Nail Tech who over 10 years didn't develop allergies, so I assume you work cleanly and avoid skin contact.

But one other way to develop an allergy is using a UV lamp that does not correctly cure. This can cause under cured product to come into contact with the skin when you soak-off, or via under-cured dust when filing. Not all brands have the capability or knowledge to test if their products correctly cure, this requires specialist equipment and a chemist. Especially avoid brands that claim their products will cure in any UV lamp, or that their UV lamp will cure any product.

If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me directly. All the best.
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