On the 14th April 2023, the BBC featured a news article where they discussed the increase number of allergies caused by Gel products, specifically products containing HEMA and made in China.

Mooeys is a chain of beauty salons, where over 65% of our business comes from carrying out Nail services. The Mooeys Group delivers on average 1’100 Nail services each month throughout our 5 salons, and we have seen every type of reaction or nail concern there is.

Our Director, Amy Lewis, shares her views on this recent press and some insight into the nail industry and services that are carried out across our chain of salons.

I have watched the recent feature reported by the BBC and wanted to share my thoughts on this with you, not only to help our clients understand this a bit better, but also to bring awareness to a really important subject that we deal with regularly within our industry. An industry which shockingly, is pretty unregulated (scary I know).

The BBC feature brings to light a topic which every professional therapist really struggles with, and that is the use of home kits for gel polish that can be purchased online for personal use. These are really problematic as they are generally from China and have zero regulation within the retail space. You can buy these kits on Amazon or eBay for example, and they tend to have unregulated, cheap ingredients that aren’t safe or monitored in any way.

The news story also shows Marianne Newman (The Founder of The Federation of Nail Professionals, and an all-round awesome professional who is doing great things to help regulate our industry more) discuss the various chemicals found in gel products that are causing allergic reactions, specifically HEMA.

HEMA has been given a really bad name, however it is just one chemical found within the Acrylates family. All gel and acrylic products contain acrylates as that is the chemical make-up that allows the products to adhere to the natural nail.

Products are required to not contain more than 35% HEMA in them and the majority of professional products contain far less, or in some cases no HEMA. If there is no HEMA in a specific product, then there will be another acrylate which could still be classed as an allergen used in replacement of the HEMA itself.

HEMA can be found in so many products across numerous industries. Dentists and Orthopaedic Surgeons use this product, and it is even found in 3D printing.
The biggest problem is that if you develop a reaction to acrylates, then you would need to avoid any form of acrylate in the future in order to prevent a reaction reoccurring.

Like with all food and skincare products, anyone can have allergies to things and it cannot be helped. However, over the last 10 years we have seen a huge increase in people having their nails done. It is classed as ‘the norm’ nowadays to have a gel manicure, and in the last 5 years, Builder Gels have been formulated. Builder Gels give incredible results, but these products contain more acrylates than a standard gel polish. They are designed to last longer and to be stronger than a standard polish, which is why we get the results we do.

However, the chemicals are stronger to enable them to deliver the results we are looking for as professionals, but this means they need to only be used by people who are fully qualified to use them.

In Mooeys, all of our Moo’s are fully qualified Beauty Therapists or Nail Technicians and we use reputable and professional brands only. The brand we use does contain HEMA, however it is between 7 and 17% which is far less than the maximum. We also have another Builder Gel (All in one builder) which has 50% less HEMA, great for those clients who have a more sensitive nail bed.

Products that contain the maximum levels of HEMA tend to be found in the kits that can be purchased for home use, or in Non-standard Nail bars where the products that are used tend to be cheaper, non-regulated brands, or even counterfeit products. But that is a whole other story!

As a professional brand we must have on file, safety data sheets for all products used within our business. These data sheets show the exact chemical make-up of each product and are available should we need them due an allergy for example.

However, if you purchase a gel product from an online platform, you will not be able to access this information and in some cases, they may not even have safety data sheets due to how unregulated it is.

So how do we protect our clients and Moos in Mooeys from developing allergies?

  1. We make sure we use the correct lamp for the products we are using – this is key to preventing allergies as they are most commonly caused from under curing gel products, which happens especially if you use an incorrect lamp.
  2. We are fully qualified in what we do and know the exact procedures of the treatments we are carrying out and follow all manufacturer guidelines.
  3. Hygiene protocol is super important to us to prevent cross contamination. This also includes keeping your skin free from any excess product which also contributes to allergies.
  4. You will see that some of our Moos wear gloves during treatments. This is generally to prevent them from developing allergies due to the constant exposure, or if they already have an allergy and need to protect their hands.

Even though the industry isn’t currently regulated, it is coming, and we are here for it. We have always had exceptionally high standards, and really care about both our clients and our Moos equally.

We have only ever seen two gel product reactions in the 10 years we have been trading. Considering we are carrying out approx. 1’100 treatments per month, I think that ratio is a really great result.

We cannot prevent allergies from happening, but we can do everything in our power to protect you. I cannot stress the importance of regular infill treatments, or correct removal of gel products. Please don’t leave any overlays or extensions on for longer than 2-3 weeks without having your maintenance infill treatment.

Infills are not just designed to make your nails look perfect again, they are an opportunity for us to check the health of your natural nail and see if there are any allergies or reactions developing.

What does an allergy even look/feel like?

An allergy is where the nails thicken, the skin can become extremely sensitive, it can crack and develop sores around the nail beds. It can be painful, or uncomfortable and needs to be addressed immediately. All gel product must be removed, nails trimmed down and cuticle oil applied daily to keep the nails and skin nourished. You would need to visit the doctor and allergy tests can be carried out to see if it is in fact an allergy to acrylates as this is something you would need to know for the future.

If you are unsure of the products used, please discuss with your Moo, or the salon Manager. I really hope this helps clear up any confusion or concerns you may have, but please always get in touch if you have any worries at all. We are always hear to help!

Lots of Love

Amy Lewis
Head Wench



Marianne Newman has written a brilliant blog on HEMA, so if you wanted to learn more about it, check it out Here.