When having your nails done it is important to know the product that the nail tech will be using, making sure that you are not allergic to the contents or even if it will be toxic and damaging to your nails.

There are some ingredients in nail supplies that are not even legal to use, so it is always best to ask about the products they will be using. Having information on these things can also prevent a very uncomfortable experience for the both of you.

The use of the following nail product ingredients are very harmful/ illegal:

DBP (Dibutyl Phthalate)

This substance (Dibutyl Phtalate) is used to make nails have a smooth shine and can be harmful to your liver, kidneys and reproductive system. It is best to try and avoid them as much as possible.

This product usually comes in nail polishes and nail hardeners. Another ingredient that could have the same impact is Triphenylphosphate.


These chemicals can be an allergen, make sure of the nail product ingredients before having this put on your nails, but rest assured that will not hurt or harm you. More ingredients that can cause allergic reactions are: Colophonium and Formaldehyde Resin.

At the end of the day it could be hard to avoid all these things together as there are so many products out there that could harm you, but it is wise to make sure that you are informed and not to overuse any of these chemicals. ​

Elaboration of products available now

Nail Polish

This is a paint-like polish that dries by itself, it is painted on the nail to create the desired look, take in mind that it often dries quickly and needs to be painted on fairly quickly to ensure a smooth finish. The product comes in a variety of colors, and can be used with or without a basecoat and topcoat.

Gel Polish

This is also painted on the nail and comes in a variety of colors too. It does need a basecoat and topcoat though, to help the product stick to the nail and last as long as required.

Steps to complete this manicure will be to cure the product under a UV lamp to harden and set. The basecoat is applied first, then cured. After the basecoat is cured, the desired color can be applied by simply painting it onto the nail and cured in the lamp too.

Be careful with this manicure as it will remain sticky until the residue is wiped off with nail polish remover or even acetone. Take in mind that a lot of the topcoats often do not need to be wiped off as they harden without becoming sticky as the basecoat and colors do.

There are also gel varieties that do not require the three products mentioned above, the basecoat and topcoat will often be mixed with the color to make the manicure easier and quicker to do. Although these products will also need to be cured a bit longer in the uv lamp; about 90 seconds as per the 60 seconds usually recommended with gel polish.


Acrylic comes in a powdered form that needs to be mixed with a substance called monomer to produce a paste-like consistency. It is often used for clients who want to extend or strengthen their nails as it creates a very hard and sturdy structure on top of the nail. It requires more preparation too, to make sure the product doesn’t just pop off.

This is done by buffing the nail surface and applying firstly primer, then bonder letting the products dry after each application. Then the acrylic can be applied by wetting a nail brush in some monomer and dipping it in the dry acrylic powder to form a ball. This is then spread on top of the prepared nail and built up to create the manicure or art the client wants.

Usually it requires to be shaped and buffed as the surface may be left bumpy and rough after the application, make sure the product is dry before doing this as it may ruin the integrity of the acrylic manicure.

Nail art can be applied on the manicure and the topcoat will obviously be the last step. There are acrylic topcoats that can be used, which is usually like normal nail polish and dries by itself, though a gel topcoat may also be applied for an extra shiny finish. This application may take some time to master.


This is one of the newer products on the market. It is usually a mixture of gel polish and acrylic, which also needs to be cured as gel polish is to harden. This creates a hard surface as acrylic would, but the application is easier and does not require as much skill, since the product is premixed and ready to use.

Before starting the application, any oily residue will need to be removed to make sure the product sticks to the nail. The same steps apply here as with acrylic, but a gel basecoat will need to be applied before hand. The basecoat allows the polygel to sit tightly on the nail and not come off as easily.

Building with polygel requires a slip solution that is basically ethanol, the polygel brush (which usually comes with kits) is then dipped into the slip solution to allow the nail tech to build the shape of the nail without the product sticking to the brush. Polygel is also used to lengthen and strengthen nails, for this there are a few more tools that need to be used, like a nail form sticker or dual form.

Nail form sticker: This is used to extend nails by adding product over the form (either acrylic, polygel or builder gel). The form needs to be tucked under the nail as per the product guidelines and pressed to fit neatly around the finger, sticking the free hanging edges together under the finger. Then the same preparation is done as mentioned in the polygel description. The product will then be spread over the nail, passed it onto the nail form, which creates a false nail without the need for tips(a plastic nail that is usually pasted on the natural nail with nail glue). When the manicure has been cured or dried, the form can be removed and the nail shaped and buffed.

Dual form: Dual forms are a bit easier to use than nail forms as they are full nails that simply require filling it with product (polygel or builder gel) and simply pressing it onto the nailbed, when the desired shaping has been done to ensure there is no product build-up underneath the nail, it can be cured in a uv lamp. When it has finished curing(60 seconds) it will be easy to just pop off the dual form from the product, revealing a manicure that needs minimal shaping and leaves the nail shiny, it might not even need a topcoat.

| Post by: Roche Labuschagne

| RL Nails - Owner & Nail Enthusiast