Chloe Randall

Allergies: Consultation, identification & prevention in the nail space

By Chloe Randall | 28 April 2022 | Feature

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According to the British Association of Dermatologists2.4% of people tested at 13 dermatology units had an allergy to at least one type of acrylate chemicals, the key ingredients in acrylic, gel and gel polish.

Widespread media hysteria has contributed to anxiety amongst clients in regard to enhancement services, and advice from misinformed sources can contribute to improper practice. By expanding your knowledge in this area, you can put your client at ease and make the appropriate decisions at the nail desk.

Signs of a reaction:

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Small itchy blisters around the cuticle and fingertips
  • Bumpy or itchy skin
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Tight, shiny look to the skin
  • Onycholysis (nails lifting from the nail bed)


Before treating any client for a nail service, it is imperative a consultation is carried out to gather information about the client’s history and any medical problems past or present.

Claire Blincoe

“Client consultation forms should have a minimum of the question, ‘Have you had a reaction to any products?’, advises Claire Blincoe, Georgie Smedley Group educator.

“It’s also advisable to ask if a client has ever had a reaction to acrylates as they are used in a number of different applications including dentistry.”




“Not only should you have your client’s allergies written on a formal consultation form, but you should also be having a conversation with your clients,” comments Tabby Casto, Louella Belle brand ambassador.

“Ask them directly if they’ve had any allergies in the past or issues with products resulting in problems. Some clients are not always informed and don’t always understand the risk that comes with improper use of the chemicals we work with. Be sure to inform clients and help to educate them so they are aware. Be direct with clients when asking for this information as it is very important to note if they have had allergies as these do not go away, but only get worse over time.”

What should you do if a client has a reaction?


“If a client reacts to a product you have applied, you should ask the client to return to the salon so you can remove the product as soon as possible,” comments Claire.


“Ask them to see a pharmacist or their doctor if the reaction doesn’t go once the product is removed, and advise your client to go to the doctor or a dermatologist for an allergy test to find out which ingredients they are allergic to,” adds Claire.

“Free testing is not available on the NHS in all areas and the client may be asked to pay privately for the testing. The nail technician should not try other brand’s products to find a solution as this could make the problem worse.”

Remain calm

“Remain calm if a client comes into the salon after having a reaction. If there is no previous knowledge to the client then this was unavoidable,” advises Emma Prescott, Georgie Smedley Group educator.

“You do not want to scare them but you must also deal with the issue.”





“You must consider your application methods and ensure you are not mixing products/lamps supplied by multiple brands together,” adds Emma.

“Nail systems are designed to work together by the company that manufactures them, as mixing chemicals can lead to incorrect curing. Even when the nail looks and feels fully cured on the surface, it doesn’t mean it has cured all the way through to the bottom layer that is now in close contact with your client’s nail plate and skin. Uncured product is a key reason for overexposure and allergic reactions.”


“If in doubt, do not work on the client’s nails if they are not healthy, or present any nail lifting away from the nail bed (onycholysis),” comments Tabby. “Nail lengths can be cut short and advise for cuticle oil to be applied regularly. Refer to a GP or a dermatologist to run an allergy test if you/they suspect something is creating a reaction. Do not apply gel or product on clients with suspect allergies.”

In Louella Belle’s webinar, Allergies & How They Happen with Marian Newman, it was suggested that the following should be considered to prevent allergies:

  • Products should be SDS (Safety Data Sheet) certified.
  • Work cleanly.
  • Ask the client to wash their hands before cuticle oil and hand cream.
  • It is recommended that you wear gloves.
  • Don’t let the product touch skin. If it does, remove with a brush and IPA.