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Whats in the bottle?

So there has been a lot of controversy in the nail industry at the moment with some of the ingredients in gel polish. So do you know what is in the gel polish brand you are using?

This subject made me really interested in broadening my knowledge in the ingredients in gel polish. I love to educate myself so that I can educate my clients. I have tried to simplify the below information so to not bombard you with too much.

There are many a person out there who want a cheap treatment, but you really have to ask your self why is it cheap? What are they using? Do you know what gel system your tech is using? These are just a few questions you should know and I'm hoping the below will make you want to question more.

With lockdown still continuing for the beauty industry, what really worries me are those clients, that have treated themselves to a home DIY nail kit. What are these products and what are they slowly and secretly doing to your nails?

So if you didn't already know I mainly use CND Shellac in the salon. CND Shellac can only be brought from a one distributers in the UK, just a tip, if your buying it from Amazon, this is most probably a counterfeit product being produced in China.

The reason I choose to use this product rather than any other is because CND Shellac is because a high shine, high performance colour system that with the correct application and removal will NOT damage the nail. They pride themselves on being '7 free.' This means free of the 7 harmful ingredients -

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP), is a chemical known as a plasticizer, which is used to improve polish durability and gives a shiny look to nails. This chemical was banned in the EU in 2004. The chemical is seen to have links to reproductive issues, fertility problems and birth defects.


Toluene is a nail polish ingredients that is used to create smooth application and finish. However fumes are highly toxic. Studies have shown that exposure to this can cause nausea, brain damage, hearing loss, impaired breathing and neurological damage. When inhaled to frequently in pregnant people it can cause impaired fatal development.


Camphor naturally presents in the wood of the camphor tree, and it is used in the nail polish to give a shiny and glossy appearance. According to experts, this chemical sometimes triggers severe allergic reactions when applied. Even when you inhale it, may cause dizziness, headache, and nausea.


Formaldehyde is a chemical present in nail polish used to harden and strengthen nail polish and also help in a preservative that guards against bacterial growth. Formaldehydes are found present already in the body but their percentage is so low it doesn't pose any problems. However large doses in the air or skin can cause cancer of the throat, nose or blood. Within a nail salon this toxic ingredient usually causes allergic reactions, asthma, nausea, and even miscarriages.

Formaldehyde resin

Formaldehyde resin adds depth, gloss and hardness to the film of the nail polish. It is also an ingredient which helps the nail polish better adhere to your nails. It is not classified as a carcinogen like formaldehyde but is a known skin allergen and has been proven to cause dermatitis.


Xylene is an intoxicant chemical usually found in nail polish, petroleum products, and paint thinners. It is probably what you can smell when you open a nail polish. According to experts, low-level usage of this compound can cause headache or dizziness for a short period of time. Whereas, high-level usage of this compound can affect the respiratory system, kidney, and gastrointestinal toxicity.

Methyl Ethyl Ketone (MEK)

MEK and acetone are used as industrial solvents for stripping and cleaning uncured and cured resins and coatings. Since MEK is a slightly harsher chemical, some choose to replace MEK with acetone as a “safer” alternative. Evidence suggests that these chemicals may cause reproductive harm and organ toxicity.

So these are the 7 chemicals. and none of which are present in CND Shellac. There are other gel polish brands that also go by the 7 free rule so check out if your brand does.

In my findings I also came across a lot on the chemical (meth)acrylate. This product is included in many a nail product and you probably would be hard not to find it in any, it is even eyelash glue. The chemical can cause serious skin allergies if not used properly. The risk comes when uncured products, comes into contact with skin, and sensitisation to the chemicals can occur. There is a particular danger when people use home gel kits and aren’t aware of the risk EEK!!

As this chemical is used in many a nail product we now know you have to be educated correctly in the use of it, but also the level as which its used is important. I don't know too much on the chemical side of things but what I do know, is that (meth)acrylate should be used in very small percentage. Anything high can cause skin allergies (meaning the use of gel polish in the future will be prohibited) and it can even cause nail separation and the look of of your nail being eaten away. Do you really want any of these? All gel polishes should have a testing card to show you the levels of the chemicals in it, and this is what has come into question lately and what has brought me to write this blog and research further.

So hopefully the above information gives you a small insight on what to look for in your bottles and testing cards. Now go and have a look up whats in them and where are they being produced and tell yourself are they safe and is it really worth it?



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