Allergy Awareness: A Case Study - Gemma's Story

For some people, getting their routine mani can be less than the dopamine-fest it is for most. In recent years, there has been an increase in concerns over allergies to certain chemicals found in most gel polish and Builder Gels. This puts a bit of a dampener on what should be a pampering experience.

Savvy and switched-on nail techs are getting ahead of this problem and switching to HONA products to protect themselves and their clients from those pesky allergens such as HEMA, HPMA and IBOA.

Here at HONA HQ, we have been chatting with one of our boss educators, the lovely Gemma Hornsey AKA @gem_hi.shine

Gemma has been working with a client with allergies and sensitivities, and like the pro she is, she's found solutions to giving her client the A-List treatment she deserves with no nasty surprises. We asked Gemma all about her experience:

Can you describe the condition that your client's nails were in when she first came to you with allergies related to nail products, and what did you do or advise them?

My client had been receiving her gel overlay treatment for a number of years from me with no problems. Then, after I changed my brand, within 2 infills I noticed her pinkie fingernails were growing in a ski jump shape so I soaked them all off. Over the course of a few weeks they got worse before they got better. There was never any pain or discomfort and no redness or blistering. Her hyponychium had thickened and her nails lifted off her nail beds. So we kept them short, oiled numerous times a day with regular manicures and nail health checks. I also advised her to see her GP.

Allergy to gel polish before using trustworthy HONA products

How did you adapt your nail services to ensure the safety and comfort of your client with allergies?

I had her come more frequently for a dry manicure and nail health check while we waited for her nails to grow out. I researched other brands with guidance from my HSE  (Health, Safety and Environment) advisor and settled on HONA and I’ve never looked back!

HONA pink manicure using hypoallergenic products

In your experience, what are some of the key challenges in managing nail product allergies for both you and your clients? 

A big one is finding and paying for allergy testing. I find most people won’t pay for allergy testing and just think using HEMA free is a safe alternative. This makes it difficult to find products that won’t cause another reaction.

Some brand bottle labelling and SDS (Safety Data Sheet) doesn’t match, so how can the information be believed? Also some brands when pushed for a CLP  (Chemical Labelling and Packaging) & UK REACH compliant SDS have completely different chemical make ups, this again makes it difficult to believe the information and difficult to diagnose what the client is reacting to. Since moving over to HONA I’ve not had an issue with obtaining SDS’s

The big one for me personally is education within the industry, it is only from spending time researching and self learning that I have been able to gain the knowledge I have. I look at the content of some courses now and I still think they are insufficient for the nature of the industry.

What advice would you give to fellow nail techs who may encounter clients with allergies or sensitivities to nail products?

Don’t panic! There’s so much information out there now. We can only arm our clients with the information but we cannot diagnose. So always refer to a GP. If they have had allergy testing, when carrying out their consultation, ask them to bring any relevant documents with them. Never feel pressured to carry out a service.



Read our latest blog post about allergy awareness: Allergy Awareness For Nail Technicians

HONA Allergy Awareness