Recently, there has been significant conversation surrounding an ingredient named HEMA, which is found in many gel nail polish formulations. The possible allergic reactions from HEMA have captured the media’s attention, and headlines have swarmed the news from media outlets such as the BBC, with ‘Investigation launched into gel polish allergic reactions‘ and the Daily Mail’s ‘Brits tell of ‘life-changing’ allergies triggered by gel polish as Government launches investigation‘.
With this in mind, we’ve created this handy guide to help inform you and your clients on everything there is to know about HEMA and HEMA Free gel polish.
Everything you need to know about HEMA
What is HEMA?
- HEMA, a light-curing monomer commonly found in gel nail polish, is also known as Hydroxyethyl Methacrylate or 2-hydroxyethyl Methacrylate.
- When HEMA is polymerised under UV/LED light, gel nails become hardened and shiny.
- HEMA is also used in other industries, such as medicine and dentistry.
Why is HEMA being talked about in the media?
When products containing HEMA are misused or are repeatedly absorbed through the skin or nail plate, in some cases, it can cause an allergic reaction leading to eczema, inflammation and severe skin irritation.
This can happen to anyone, even if they have had no previous reactions to a particular gel polish containing HEMA.
The importance of the correct application of a product that contains HEMA
Just because a product contains HEMA doesn’t mean it is going to cause your client any problems. The way in which you apply products that contain HEMA is important. The biggest cause of allergic reactions using gel polish is lack of training and knowledge. The correct application and use of a full end-to-end gel polish system from the same brand is always recommended.
Gel Polish brands take their products through rigorous scientific testing to ensure their gel polish system is compatible with their lamp to cure the gel correctly.
If a lamp is not the correct wavelength, the acrylates (a group of chemicals used to bond the gel) do not cure properly, penetrating the nail bed and surrounding skin, causing irritation and allergies.
Signs and symptoms of a HEMA allergy include…
Contact Dermatitis: HEMA can cause contact dermatitis, which leads to skin inflammation, itching, redness, and a rash. Prolonged or repeated exposure to HEMA may worsen these symptoms.
Nail Bed Inflammation: Some individuals may experience inflammation or swelling around the nail bed due to HEMA exposure, leading to discomfort and pain.
Does all gel polish contain HEMA?
Not all gel polish and builder gels contain HEMA. They will be marketed and labelled as HEMA Free if they do not contain Hydroxyethyl Methacrylate.
It goes without saying that if you need to work with a HEMA Free product, for example, a client has a known allergy, always check the label of the gel polish you are using or contact the brand directly if you are unsure.
Is HEMA the only allergen in gel polish?
Although HEMA has been identified as a known allergen in gel polish, it isn’t the only one. It’s important clients take an allergy test if they suspect an allergic reaction to HEMA to confirm if using a HEMA Free gel polish is the right formula for them.
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What are the benefits of using HEMA Free Gel Polish?
1. Reduced Risk of Allergic Reactions
By eliminating HEMA from the formulation, HEMA Free gel polishes significantly reduce the risk of allergic reactions and skin sensitivities. This makes them safer for individuals with known sensitivities or allergies to HEMA.
2. Enhanced Safety
HEMA Free gel polish prioritizss the well-being of clients by providing an alternative that minimises the potential harm associated with HEMA exposure.
Salons and nail professionals using HEMA Free gel polish can cater to a wider range of clients, including those who have sensitivities or allergies to HEMA. This inclusivity enhances client satisfaction and helps expand your client base.
4. Comparable Performance
Manufacturers have developed advanced formulations for HEMA Free gel polishes that offer similar performance to traditional gel polishes. These formulations provide long-lasting wear, high-gloss shine, and easy application, ensuring professionals can achieve excellent results for their clients.
What nail brands available on Salons Direct are HEMA Free?
- Glitterbels HEMA Free range
- 2AM HEMA Free Gel Polish
- Bluesky HEMA Free Gel Polish
- Dali Artistic HEMA Free
The Glitterbels HEMA Free range has many stunning shades available that contain absolutely no HEMA. Removing the HEMA does not affect the quality or application process, and the two-coat system offers perfect coverage every time.
- Suitable for clients who have been overexposed or allergic to HEMA.
- Manufactured and tested to cure perfectly.
- Highly pigmented and smooth to apply the gel.
Glossify has introduced HEMA Free shades to their huge gel polish collection, but it’s important to note that not all of the collection is HEMA Free. Please see our list below so you can shop with confidence.
- Glossify Barely There Collection
- Glossify Joely Collection
- Glossify HEMA Free Top Coat
- Glossify HEMA Free Base Coat
2AM HEMA Free Gel Polish is a 100% vegan-friendly pure gel containing no nasties and is HEMA Free. The gel polish promises chip-free and long-lasting wear with precise application every time with the ergonomically designed brush.
Bluesky Gel Polish range consists of beautiful colours created to give beautiful nails that will not chip, peel or scratch for at least 14 days. Bluesky’s gel polish range is completely HEMA Free, ideal for clients with a diagnosed HEMA Allergy.
- 14-Day High Gloss Wear
- On Like Polish, Wears Like Gel, Off In Minutes
- No Nicks, Chips or Smudges
- Dries Under UV or LED Lamp
- Fully Tested and EU Approved
Dali Artistic was created by Emily Ferguson, who has been in the business of nails for her entire career. Emily wanted to create a brand that set itself apart from others and is powered by customer feedback. Dali currently offers various gel polish ranges, including a HEMA free range featuring 225 shades – Just look for the yellow bottles!
Dali Artistic Hema Free Gel Polish is a highly pigmented, long-lasting gel that applies smoothly and provides perfect coverage every time.
- HEMA free formula.
- LED/UV curable.
- Huge array of colours.
HEMA Free FAQ’s:
What is HEMA Free?
HEMA Free gel polish and builder gel formulas do not include the tiny HEMA molecules that can enter the skin and cause allergies. Instead, they may contain larger molecules that do not penetrate the skin and are not reactive under UV/LED light.
HEMA Free gel polish allows nail techs the ability to perform nail services on clients who have a HEMA allergy. HEMA free products are not 100% risk-free from allergies or skin irritation, but it does help to reduce the risk.
Does a HEMA Free formula affect the quality?
No, HEMA Free gel polish and builder gels simply allow nail technicians to create a long-lasting gel polish without risking allergies or skin irritations and without compromising on shine, colour and longevity of wear. Your clients will still enjoy the beautiful, glossy gel nails that they are used to.
How many coats does HEMA Free gel polish need?
Use HEMA Free gel polish and builder gel in the exact same way as you would with regular gel polish. It has been formulated to give the exact same results, just without the HEMA ingredient.
Does using HEMA free gel polish affect the curing process?
No, HEMA Free gel polish is manufactured and tested to cure as normal. Bear in mind that using a brand’s full system is ALWAYS recommended to ensure perfect application.
The leading nail brands are constantly innovating to offer your clients more choices regarding their nails and their formulas. We hope you’ve found this guide useful in learning about HEMA and what HEMA free gel nail polish is.
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