There has been a lot of buzz around the controversial topic of HEMA. It has taken the industry by storm. Can you use products with HEMA? What is HEMA? And will it cause allergic reactions in my clients if I use nail products that have HEMA in them? We unpack all these important questions in our blog.
HEMA is monomer used in nail products usually used for adhesion and dilution. Hydroxyethyl methacrylate is the scientific name for HEMA. You get 2 types of HEMA: bound and free HEMA.
how does hema work? Let's get scientific!
HEMA is added to nail products because it gives us a really good adhesion to the natural nail plate. Natural nails are made of keratin protein, similar to things that are carboxylic acids. HEMA is a long chain carboxylic acid with a hydroxyl group. HEMA is miscible with water products, and since we have water on our fingernails, HEMA doesn't reject it and instead bonds with it easily.
what potential problems can hema cause?
As we know, monomers are smaller molecules and oligomers are much bigger. That is one of the reasons why free HEMA can cause so many problems, such as allergic reactions, as it is small enough to be easily absorbed into our skin and then our bloodstream. An easy analogy would be to imagine a bunch of balloons tied together - they are controlled and maintained in a specific environment. As in the case of HEMA, these balloons are not tied down and just float around. They can get stuck in all the nooks and crannies as they float around all over the place. And this is what happens with free HEMA. If they are not bound, they can slip into all the nooks and crannies around the nail plate and get absorbed into the skin. Acetone exposure removes that oily layer on the skin and nail plate that serves as a barrier against the absorption of substances into the skin.
can I use nail products with hema in it?
If you see HEMA on the nail product ingredient list, don't panic. First, have a look at the concentration of the HEMA. If you have 40-50% concentration of HEMA in a Gel Polish system, that increases the chance of becoming allergic to HEMA. A lower concentration of HEMA in a Gel System will decrease the possibility of becoming allergic to it. Also have a look at the ingredient name containing HEMA. If you see HEMA in the ingredient list of the nail product, and it is followed by a comma and you are allergic to HEMA, then this is the product you'd want to avoid. The larger the molecule including HEMA is (the longer the name is), the less likely it is that it will get absorbed by your skin and get absorbed into your bloodstream, as this is BOUND HEMA.
is all hema bad? what allergies can you have to it?
HEMA entering our bloodstream is not inherently a bad thing, but our body's immune system reaction to that foreign thing coming into our body can potentially cause the allergy. That is why some people may have a really severe allergic reaction to this product, whereas others may not. It really comes down to your body chemistry and whether or not your immune system says: get this stuff out of here. It depends upon what your body's accustomed to and what it can tolerate. If your body identifies it as a potential allergen, you may experience swelling, flaring, maybe peeling or cracking. It can even happen that your nail plate can lift off the finger a little bit. You may have itchy swelling, blisters, red cracking and peeling. Once you are allergic to HEMA, there is no going back.
why do nail brands use hema if it can be harmful?
HEMA is a good adhesive to the nail plate and relatively inexpensive, which reduces raw material cost. HEMA is used in all gel products. The important thing to look for is BOUND HEMA. Bound HEMA is much safer and has a low chance to cause allergic reactions, whereas using FREE HEMA puts your client at a high risk of developing an allergic reaction.
crystal clawz products contain bound hema (=
Our Gel products contain BOUND HEMA. This is much safer and is hypoallergenic (less likely to cause an allergic reaction). To summarise, look for products that have a low concentration of HEMA and use BOUND HEMA (such as Crystal Clawz). Loved our blog? Take a look at our latest posts by clicking HERE.