Katie Barnes
Katie Barnes

Where to safely purchase your nail products

By Katie Barnes | 08 May 2020 | Expert Advice, Feature


In a time of financial crisis both home users and professionals may be turning to third-party online retailers and auction sites to purchase what they assume is a genuine but cheaper cosmetic nail product.

When I discuss third-party online retailers, I am not referring to an educator or wholesaler that is an authorised sub-distributor of the manufacturer or official distributor. I refer to online auction and marketplace sites, such as eBay, Amazon and Groupon, where anyone can be a seller or buyer. Understanding who is and isn’t an authorised sub-distributor can be unclear, but a quick check with the manufacturer or official distributors will confirm their validity.

Professional, reputable brands will not list their products on third-party and auction sites and, therefore, there is no guarantee of what is being purchased.

There are many issues that can arise from not purchasing your nail products from genuine sources.

First let’s take a look at the regulations in place for different categories of products used in the nail industry…



The CTPA, EU Cosmetics Regulation provides the following definition of a cosmetic product: “A “cosmetic product” is any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body such as the skin or nails with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, changing their appearance and/or correcting and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition”.

Cosmetic products such as powders; liquids; gels; nail polishes; gel polish etc should never be purchased from a third-party online retailer.

The problem when buying products on third-party retailers and importing them is that the purchaser most likely doesn’t have the chemistry knowledge to make an informed choice, and by importing that person becomes legally responsible for the safety of the product.

This means if the overseas company has not registered the product with the European Cosmetic Products Notification Portal (CPNP), the product cannot be legally sold in Europe or UK.



Medicines are defined by the MHRA as follows: “If a product which by ingredient, claims or presentation advertises as treating or preventing an adverse condition and crosses the medicines borderline where the regulatory situation will differ (to cosmetic regulations).” The sales of these require a license. This license explicitly forbids the sale of these products on third-party retailer sites.

Medical products include skincare and footcare products which claim to treat an adverse condition, for example “prevents athletes foot”.



Products we use in conjunction with cosmetic and medical products, such as nail brushes, cotton wool, cuticle tools etc are considered articles. They, therefore, do not fall under the scope of the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

Instead, products of this type are general products and are regulated under the General Product Safety Regulations 2005. Under the GPSR companies have an obligation to ensure the product is safe in normal or reasonably foreseeable use.

Articles such as nail display tips, brush cases, brush holders, brushes, display stands etc are perfectly acceptable to purchase from third party online retailers. These items pose no danger to our clients wherever they are purchased from. Whilst you may not be able to guarantee quality, you can often pick yourself up a bargain.


Biocidal Products

The Biocidal Products Regulation standardises the sale and use of biocidal products, which are used to protect humans, materials or articles against harmful organisms like viruses and bacteria, by the action of the active substances contained in the biocidal product.

Sanitation and disinfection products, we use in conjunction with equipment and articles come under this regulation.

Whilst the BPR try to regulate the sales of these items on these platforms, counterfeit substances remain an ongoing issue.


Why buy from official sellers

Product Confidence

When you purchase from a third party retailer or auction site, you have no guarantee what the product is or if it counterfeit. If the price is considerably cheaper than what you are used to paying this is a red flag that the item is not genuine.

There have been cases where genuine packaging and products are purchased by the reseller but the item has been diluted with counterfeit product. There have even been reported cases where the product has been replaced with dangerous substances such as arsenic.

The replacement of genuine ingredients can cause skin irritation and allergies which as the importer, you become legally responsible for.


Brand support and guarantee

Each distributor and brand have different application techniques and directions for using their products. When you purchase from them or their authorised sellers, you are also gaining ongoing technical and product support from those who understand that product best. If an issue arises, when purchased from a third party online retailer, you will have no manufacturer guarantee or support.

It is important to remember that your distributor isn’t there to rip you off, they’re there to work with you, offering support and dealing with all the problems of importing for you so you don’t have to. In short, they make things easier for you.


Shelf life

How old is the product? Every product has a shelf life; some unopened, and some opened. You cannot safely use a product past this shelf life. A highly discounted product could be the result of a product which is past its shelf life.



When cosmetics, medicines, biocidal and electrical items are purchased from third party, should an issue arise your insurance policy will not cover you.


Customer confidence

Customers put their trust in their nail technician that the products they are using are safe and genuine.

I understand the demand and convenience for using these third-party online retailers but convenience and cost should never overrule safety.

Love Katie B xx