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What's the difference between HEMA-free and hypoallergenic?

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BobSweden

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It seems from many Facebook posts that there is a great deal of confusion about this, from both brands and Nail Tech's. Since the many reported cases of salon clients developing onycholysis and allergies last year, we are seeing the use of the terms "HEMA-free" and "hypoallergenic" a lot.

A product can be HEMA-free, but not be hypoallergenic. For example, HEMA-free monomers use Hydroxypropyl Methacrylate (also called HPMA, but that is shorthand and not a correct INCI chemical name like HEMA). HPMA is currently the #2 nail product allergen in the UK, after HEMA which is #1.

What's more, is that if you develop an allergy to HEMA, there is a much higher risk that you will then develop an allergy to HPMA. Why? Because HEMA is a "cross sensitiser" and this means it encourages allergies to other ingredients to develop. So someone with an allergy to HEMA almost certainly has an allergy to 4 or 5 other ingredients.

What's worse is that it especially seems to encourage an allergy to HPMA to develop - according to some medical research that have read. So if you have a HEMA allergy, changing to a product that uses HPMA is only likely to be a short term solution, before a new allergy develops.

But there are other alternatives used in HEMA-free products: some are very low risk and others have higher risk.

In comparison, a hypoallergenic product won't contain HEMA, HPMA or any of the ingredients that a dermatologist makes a patch test for to find out which ingredients a Nail Tech reacts to:
  • Butyl acrylate
  • Ethyl methacrylate
  • Butyl methacrylate
  • 2-Hydroxyethyl methacrylate (HEMA)
  • Hydroxypropyl methacrylate (HPMA)
  • Ethylene glycol dimethacrylate
  • Triethylene glycol dimethacrylate
  • 1,6-Hexanediol diacrylate
  • Trimethylolpropane triacrylate
  • Tetrahydrofurfuryl methacrylate
  • Ethyl acrylate
  • 2-Hydroxyethyl acrylate
  • Triethylene glycol diacrylate
There are other ingredients that are also known to cause allergies (all acrylates can cause irritation, but not all are proven to cause an allergy). A genuine hypoallergenic product won't use those either.

That is not to say that is impossible to develop a reaction to hypoallergenic products. If someone has developed allergies to a lot of ingredients and their immune system is crazy sensitive, they might. But the risk of someone developing their first allergy is minimal.

If you have developed an allergy
Visit your GP and get referred to a dermatologist who needs to conduct a "Meth-acrylates" patch test. This will show which of the above ingredients you react to. Using this info, look for products that don't contain those ingredients or simply change to hypoallergenic products that don't contain any of them.

Developing an allergy is not easy. Overexposure needs repeated, longterm skin contact of uncured or under-cured product and/or dust and usually the cause of this is poor education by the nail school.

Overexposure can be due to not using the brands recommended UV lamp or because you simply don't work cleanly. Also, before an allergy develops, you will have reacted and shown allergic symptoms during the sensitisation stage, but ignored this. Unless you stop all skin contact, new ingredient allergies will probably happen after changing products.
  • Wear nitrile gloves that are at least 0.19mm thick or double glove. Replace every 15 to 30 minutes, before the methacylates reach the skin.
  • Use plastic backed wipes to remove the inhibition layer. Wipe from smallest nail to largest.
  • Keep bottles, jars, brush handles, tools and desk surfaces clean.
  • Wear clothes that minimise skin contact from airborne dust.
  • Use the brands recommended UV lamp. For extra precaution, double the recommended cure time.
  • Invest in a professional dust/vapour filter, like the unit from Vodex.

If you don't have an allergy
Use only products manufactured in the EU/USA because even if they use some of the ingredients above, they are formulated at safe amounts. Unless you work dirty and use an incorrect UV lamp, the risk of an allergy from these products is low. (people who have allergies to food, nickel, pet fur, etc may have higher risk).

Follow the precautions given above.


Hope this info is useful. :)
 

Ambermist

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"Invest in a professional dust/vapour filter, like the unit from Vodex."

Why do you recommend a "Vodex" when you already stated in a previous post, that you use a "similar but different product from Sweden", not capturing 100% of the dust" and needs a dyson in the room as well?

Sep 30, 2019
Ideally, you need a filter system that cleans the air within your "working zone". It won't help much if a Dyson is humming away in the corner of the salon, while you breath dust straight of the e-file. In the UK, the Vodex is a serious product - my preference is the Pure Air with two inlets - which can be used with their Fileaway to suck air from below, while using the other pipe to suck from above. You could also use this with two tables if they are close.


We use a similar but different product from Sweden. We also use a Dyson. I originally bought the Dyson for a different purpose, but out of interest tried it in our salon. I was quite (!) surprised to see the the air pollution display was red - suggesting the Swedish filter was not capturing 100% of the dust. After it ran for an hour, the display returned to a safe green level.

Needless to say, it stayed in the salon.
 

BobSweden

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I feel happy to recommend any product that I consider to be good. One of the Vodex filters for nail salons is manufactured by BOFA International, who are an established international company.

Incidentally, we since discovered the reason that the Swedish filter was not operating perfectly. A nitrile glove had been sucked up and was partially blocking the filter!
 

Ambermist

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The Swedish Filter Company must have increased the power on their unit from 100 metres per hour to suck up a glove!
 

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