Katie Barnes
Katie Barnes

Katie Barnes on…how to prevent allergies

By Katie Barnes | 04 September 2018 | Feature, Health & wellbeing, Technique

Katie Barnes Allergy

Concerns have been mounting over the number of tech allergies being reported from using nail products. It’s so important to address your working practice and products to prevent this from disrupting your career and causing further pain.

An allergy builds up over time from overexposure of repetitive skin contact with an allergen (in this case usually an ingredient in nail products), starting off as irritation and redness. We become allergic to one particular ingredient, with many reporting an allergy to HEMA. You can change to a product no longer containing this allergen but if you don’t change the working technique, an allergy may occur to another ingredient. Once an allergy develops, the immune system goes onto heightened alert, so it becomes much easier and faster to develop allergies to other allergens in future. An allergy will never go away as the immune system will never forget that specific allergen.

Clean, tidy and safe working is essential and while an allergy may not be currently be present, if you are working incorrectly, then it is a case of when and not if an allergy occurs. This can be detrimental of the lifespan of the career of a tech. Some points to address are:


  • Monomer soaked tissue

Focusing on where the tissue on which you wipe your brush and excess monomer on is positioned is one of the main concerns. Too many techs have this directly in front of them and rest their hand and arm in this, constantly overexposing themselves. The tissue should be positioned at the side of you away from both skin contact from tech and client. It is also essential to constantly change this when working if it is getting over-saturated with excess monomer and thrown away before filing. Couch roll isn’t very absorbent and kitchen roll is too harsh for your brush.

  • A dust-free desk

Dust gets everywhere. Many allergies are developed from uncured product dust filings. Keep the nail desk clean and free from dust and change the towel after every client. It is important to make sure your desk is always kept dust free and to ensure you don’t rest your arm in the dust and develop an allergic reaction. As well as changing towels, wearing gloves, washing hands and having an extraction system, extra items that can be used during a service to remove dust are a microfibre cloth over the tech and client’s skin as it is designed to pick up dust and canned air as this gets in all the crevices on your desk and kit that a brush or cloth may not.

Touching un-cured product

Another cause of overexposure is techs unknowingly and repeatedly touching their brush to remove product or put into shape; using their fingers or nails to check if the product is cured or fully polymerised and to ‘tidy up’ over-run product on the client’s cuticle or sidewalls. It is essential to never touch uncured product with your fingers or any other part of your skin.

Nitrile gloves

Lack of nitrile glove use or using the wrong nitrile gloves. Doug Schoon recommends a minimum thickness of 8 mil (thousandths of an inch) = 0.19mm. Bob Giblett has suggested that these should conform to the EU Chemical Resistance specification EN 374-3 or higher. Gloves with an EN 374-3 rating means the chemical resistance was met for 60 minutes or more. It is important to replace these gloves after each client. If carrying out an infill service, it can be good practice to change these after de-bulking and before product application. Nitrile gloves are recommended because latex gloves contain a protein that can cause allergic reactions and latex gloves don’t provide nearly as good protection as nitrile gloves. As an extra layer of protection, consider wearing a skin barrier cream under the gloves and on your arms but it is important to be aware that barrier cream is not an alternative to wearing nitrile gloves.

For more information and help with the prevention of allergies, Bob and Iryna Giblett have set up a campaign ‘Say No to Allergies’. Check it out, here. 

Love Katie B x