Let’s talk Hema and methalcrylates

I was asked the question a few days ago, why is it such a big deal to have Hema in our gel systems? This includes hard/soft AND gel polishes.

That was a good question because I myself have not done my research on Hema. The gel brand we carry  contain well below the FDA regulated % of Hema to be considered dangerous.And it wasn’t until recently when it started to become a big deal. The question is why?

I’m going to digress back to methacrylates.

In the early 70’s (specifically 1974) methyl methacrylate was banned by the US Food & Drug administration for use in all nail products because it caused deterioration of the nail plate, caused nail discoloration, and could cause allergic dermatitis in not just our clients, our Technicians as well.

It was a BIG deal. It forever changed many of our favorite nail brands. Mfg’s were forced to develop new formulas and I for one can attest to the fact, they sucked. Eventually, the chemist figured it out and new products were developed not containing methacrylates. Life once again in the Nail Industry was happy!

There are still acrylic products available to our Nail Tech’s which contain methacrylates. Yet, it is determined they are typically found in sub-standard salons….or are they?

I’ve been doing some research on products recently introduced both for hands and feet. ALL I am going to say is “check your SDS” sheets. I’ve realized there is a lot of wool being pulled over the eyes of those who are dependent on others and maybe don’t think of the implications which come with dangerous ingredients. It’s a frustrating thing to watch and actually very sad.

Methacrylates in any form is ultimately not good for the nail plate. And, one thing I have learned over the years about this particular ingredient, the effects can take a long time before they show. Stay aware however, %’s do matter.

The side effects of methacrylate is lung irritation, coughing and/or shortness of breath. Now, according to my gyno when I was pregnant with my daughter, I would have to drink, inhale, swallow, breathe tons of the toxic ingredient for it to really have any damage. However, over the years allergies can develop and mainly there was concern at the idea that using this ingredient in a product which can NOT be easily removed, is damaging to the nail plate. Consequently, much damage was caused by jamming, slamming or breaking a nail which had a product containing methacrylates. (again, check your SDS sheets). The bottom line is, methacrylates cause allergies, onycholysis (nail separation), drying, cracking and splitting of skin tissue around the nail.

In short, methacrylates is banned in the USA and has been declared a”poisonous and deleterious (causing harm or damage) substance.

What do methacrylates  have to do with Hema?

Hema is commonly known as 2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate or hydroxyethyl methacrylate.  Hence, the concern.

Hema is safe in low concentrates (less than 30%). This number was determined primarily because of the many DIY’ers. Regulators believed having a small amount of Hema would decrease the amount of allergies of those who do their own nails at home. The side affects could cause allergic reactions leading to inflammation, severe skin irritation and eczema. Much like methacrylate’s.

Why is it needed in our gel and/or gel polishes? Methacrylates is what polymerizes the polish, giving it a hardened shiny finish. And, although we are specifically concerning ourselves with gel polish, many cheap brands of nail polish often contain Hema and other allergy-causing ingredients.

The bottom line here is what I have believed since “hard” gels were first introduced into our industry. If you want to offer safe services to your clients whether it be nail services or foot care. When applying any hard product to their nails….if it can’t be soaked off….don’t offer it. 

I make no claim to be a chemist and I’m confident there are many out there that are more qualified to speak on this topic. I caution you however, again…..qualify what you are reading (mine included). As I stated in the beginning of this blog, you might be surprised at products which are being promoted for involuted/ingrown toenail repair and/or even some tried and true brands of gels or gel polish that contain Hema or methacrylates. You also might be surprised at brands you “thought” did but don’t. However, as stated above, don’t get yourself all in a tizzy for HEMA related products with less than 30%.

Be a responsible technician and make sure you obtain information about products you promote or products used in your services. Don’t always “follow the band wagon”.

In addition, as shared in a prior article when I discussed “urea”….it isn’t always the ingredient as it is the % of that ingredient. More is not always best and percentages do matter.

As I’m writing this I’m thinking about all the opportunities I’ve had in my Distribution Business to represent brands which are well known and I’ve backed off. Backing away from income is a tough thing to do. You just have to decide who you want to be. Do you want to be the person or Business who carries everything and depend on volume in lieu of quality? Or, do you want to be the Business which specializes in what you do represent, offering quality products with quality education.

There is no right or wrong….there is only a choice….yours!

CJ Murray, President

6 thoughts on “Let’s talk Hema and methalcrylates”

  1. Jennifer Perdue

    Excellent information! Thank you CJ!! As per your usual, your quality and professionalism is way beyond the norm!!!! ❤️

  2. You have peaked my curiosity I’m going to have to do some research, question SDS, do we get them from you or from the manufacturer that is of products that you carry

    1. I have all SDS sheets of the brands we carry. Some are currently available on our website (we are working on getting them all on there. Some will be sent automatically to you when placing an order. Reach out to me with any you are interested in.

    1. Thank you Sylvia. I’m too much like my Dad. I’d rather help and be poor than rich and be selfish. I’m rich in so many other ways :). Including meeting people like yourself.

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