What are Artificial Nails?
Artificial nails (also sometimes known as "fake" or "false" nails) are artificial extensions of the natural nail and are extremely popular for all ages. Some artificial nails are classified as cosmetic products including "Liquid and Powder (L&P)" nails and "UV gel" nails, where the artificial nail is 'built-up' on the natural nail. These products may be used in professional salons and nail bars and some will be available for home use. All cosmetic products used or sold in salons are subject to the same strict European safety laws as those sold in retail outlets.
Artificial Nails and Allergy
Dermatologists are seeing rising rates of sensitisation to artificially enhanced, sometimes known as 'build-up' nails. Increasing numbers of patients are being seen in clinics with allergy, contact dermatitis or inflammation of the skin linked to the use of Liquid and Powder (L&P) and UV cured gel nail systems. The reactions are not always limited to the finger area around the nail itself but can arise wherever the nail contacts the skin, such as on the face.
While any resulting contact dermatitis is in itself an unpleasant condition for the consumer to develop, there are other possible implications. The ingredients in artificially enhanced nails have a wide range of applications, including in certain medical and dental procedures. If an individual develops an allergy to their nail applications, this can have implications for any future dental and medical procedures.
CTPA Guideline on Artificial Nails and Minimising the Risk of Allergy
CTPA shares the concerns of the dermatologists and nail professionals and has published the CTPA Guideline on Artificial Nails and Minimising the Risk of Allergy to provide best practice advice on how to minimise the risk of developing such an allergy by using the products correctly. The advice includes:
- Avoid skin contact
- Apply to healthy nails only
- Wear appropriate gloves
- Do not reuse gloves
- Remove gloves in a manner which avoids skin contact with the contaminated part of the gloves
- Use the correctly-matched lamp and gel system
- Use reputable products which comply with cosmetics legislation
Safety of Cosmetic Products
European cosmetic safety laws require that cosmetic and personal care products must not cause harm to human health. Before any such product reaches the shelf it must have undergone a rigorous safety assessment by a professionally qualified safety assessor. This safety assessment takes into account the finished product, all of the ingredients, how and where the product is to be used, how often and by whom and irrespective of whether the ingredients are natural, organic or man-made (synthetic). All must be safe.
Almost any substance, natural or man-made, has the potential to produce an allergic reaction in someone, somewhere; the body does not differentiate whether something is natural or synthetic - it is the properties of the substance itself and not its origin that is key. As with some foods, you may not know you are sensitive to a cosmetic ingredient until you try out a product and have an adverse reaction.
What Should I do if I Have an Allergic Reaction?
Manufacturers of cosmetic products want consumers to enjoy using their products. However companies want to know if someone has a reaction to their product so please do contact the manufacturer so that the company is aware that someone has experienced a reaction to their product. Careline or helpline numbers are provided on the pack, or ask your salon professional to check for contact details on their products. The manufacturer will then be able to advise you further on what action to take next. If the reaction persists or recurs or you are otherwise concerned you should consult your GP. Your GP may refer you to a skin specialist, such as a dermatologist. A dermatologist will be able to diagnose the cause of the problem, advise on how to treat it and help you to avoid further reactions in future. In particular, they will advise on the ingredient(s) that you should avoid and CTPA has produced an ingredient labelling help note for dermatologists to assist with this process. More information on what to do if you suspect an allergic reaction to a cosmetic product is available in the Consumer Guide to Unwanted Allergic Reactions.