The Hazards of Using an Airbrush Machine with Gel Polish and Acetone: A Brands Perspective

So there's a rising trend within the nail industry which has caught our attention thanks to safety minded nail tech influencers like Dippy Cow Nails and Amber The Nail Whisperer - the use of an airbrush machine to create nail art, using a mixture of gel polish and acetone.

As exciting as it might seem for its speed and the ease with which designs can be created, we need to delve deeper into the science to understand why this practice might not be as harmless as it seems.

The Lifespan of Your Nail Art

So firstly one of the main reasons your clients choose you and gel polish is its durability and longevity. By its nature, gel polish resists chipping and peeling, providing a shiny, long-lasting finish. When mixed with acetone, a powerful solvent, the gel polishes composition is massively compromised... but how?

Acetone, known for its potency in removing nail polish, disrupts the polymer chains that make up the gel polish. It essentially breaks down the gel polish's structure, diluting its formula and, in turn, significantly reducing its longevity on the nail. This results in a manicure that lacks the strength, durability and finish associated with traditional gel polish application.

So while the above is a massive point to consider it's not the main one we wanted to talk to you about...

Allergy Risks

Even more crucial is the risk this mixture poses to skin health and safety. When gel polish particles are broken down by acetone, they become smaller and more likely to penetrate the skin barrier. This could lead to an increased risk of developing allergies or sensitivities, particularly in individuals with a predisposition.

But dont just take our word for it... Here is a YouTube video by Jim McConnell the chemist behind HONA's gel system formula also confirming its allergy risks and danger. Dont have time to watch the video? Here is a direct quote "it is probably the most dangerous trend in our industry right now"

But wait there's more...

The airbrush technique also poses an additional threat. When the acetone-gel polish mixture is sprayed, it can easily come into contact with the skin surrounding the nails, increasing exposure. Furthermore, airborne particles may also be inhaled, which could potentially lead to respiratory issues.

Let us be clear even if you are using HONA gel polishes, as safe as they are, risk is still there and you increase that risk by using this method.

Jerri from Dippy Cow Nails spoke to HONA and said "I’ve seen an alarming increase of the promotion of this technique in the past 6 months.  While this isn’t the first it has ‘trended’, it’s certainly the most widespread we’ve seen.  The increase of nail influencers on our social platforms has made this technique become so commonplace on our feeds, and has undoubtedly lead to clients requesting this effect.

Sure, airbrushing looks amazing, there’s no denying it! But mixing this toxic cocktail of chemicals is a no-no!  Instead you can achieve a similar effect using pigments or a sponge with gel.

No nail trend is worth ours, our clients, our colleagues or our families health and safety, and I’m sure we’ll soon be onto the next hottest look that will (hopefully) come with fewer risks."

Compromised Cure

It's also important to understand that adding acetone to gel polish will impact the curing process. Gel polish requires precise curing under a UV or LED lamp for it to harden (cure) properly. The introduction of acetone is interfering with this process, leading to under-cured gel polish. Not only does this affect the finish and longevity of the manicure, but under-cured gel polish is a huge factor contributing to the development of allergies.

The Bottom Line

Innovation is the driving force in the nail and beauty industry, and it's fantastic to see nail technicians experiment with new techniques. However, it's crucial to understand the science behind these hacks to ensure they are safe and efficient.

Mixing gel polish with acetone for use in an airbrush machine has significant drawbacks, from reduced longevity of your manicure to increased risks of skin sensitivities and allergies (even when wearing gloves or a mask). 

Therefore HONA's stance is don't do it with our system. It goes against our user recommendation it will void your insurance.

Always remember to prioritise your health and safety (and that of your clients) above all. Keep up to date with scientifically backed practices and ensure that you are providing not only beautiful but also safe nail art and care.

Found this interesting? Check out HONA's other knowledge hub blog posts for more updates, insights, and safe practices within the nail beauty industry!