What to tell clients about DIY gel-polish kits

With at-home DIY gel-polish systems still on the rise, just under half of nail techs (42%) have had awkward conversations with clients who have asked for advice on how to use these kits at home, according to Professional Beauty's Insider Survey*.  

Plus, with The British Association of Dermatologists reporting an increase in the number of allergies reported from the use of at-home gel-polish kits, this shows there’s still a lot the industry needs to do to help clients see why having a treatment with a professional is the only way to get safe and long-lasting results. 

Home users don’t have the knowledge of nail anatomy, product chemistry and correct application, so when painting nails with regular polish, they often don’t worry about skin contact, relying on tidying up with nail polish remover afterwards. While this isn’t ideal, it is a great concern if replicating this procedure with gel-polish, as skin contact with uncured product is a known cause of skin allergies. This may not always cause an issue until removal, where the under-cured dust and filings can be the source of skin reaction.

Instructions are poor in these kits, with little to no warnings or precautions included on the packaging and no warnings about avoiding skin contact. The lamps are often poor quality and will be unlikely to give a correct cure; just because the product appears cured, it is not necessarily thoroughly cured. DIY kits also don’t often have MSDS (material safety data sheets).

Why are these DIY gel-polish kits so dangerous?

When the user doesn’t understand the chemistry or the anatomy of the natural nail how can they prep or remove without damage? Would they truly recognise the issue with product touching the skin or just be concerned it was unsightly? Would they understand the curing times and specifications of UV versus LED lamps? What would they do if they spilled the product, and would they know how to safely dispose of it?

Without this understanding, the user may also offer to carry out a treatment on their friends or family with good intentions, but if something goes wrong, they may find themselves with a claim against them and no insurance to cover themselves in case of such an event, as a professional should – and more than likely would – have.

Many home users and even some so-called professionals are turning to third-party online retailers to purchase what they assume is a genuine but cheaper product. Professional, reputable brands will not list their products on third-party sites and therefore there is no guarantee of what is being purchased.

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.

I understand the demand and convenience for consumers of doing their gel-polish manicure themselves at home, but correct education, insurance and understanding is a must.

Fully accredited gel polish courses are reasonably priced and the investment in this is an investment in your natural nail and skin health. Once an allergy is caused it cannot be undone. The user will then no longer be able to wear nail enhancements in any form again without a reaction, so correct application and understanding is paramount for longevity of beautiful and healthy nails.

*Professional Beauty Insider Survey in the February 2020 issue of the magazine

Katie Barnes 

Katie Barnes is owner of Katie Barnes Training Academy in Warwickshire and Professional Beauty Awards 2018 Nail Professional of the Year winner. 

Watch Barnes quick guide to poly products or read her advice on customising forms for all types of nail enhancements