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Acrylics bother my allergies and asthma. What can I do?

September 15, 2011 | Bookmark +

I am a long-time nail enthusiast who finally found the time to go to nail school. I am enjoying my decision thus far, but I have found that acrylics (including odorless) bother my allergies and asthma. I was wondering what advice you might have. And could I be successful offering little to no acrylic services?


By working safely to avoid over-exposure to the products and filings or dust, it’s possible to avoid aggravating these conditions, but this can be challenging if there are pre-existing sensitivities to acrylic products. This is because all artificial nail products contain some type of “acrylic” and there are no exceptions. It is certainly possible to lower inhalation exposures and prevent skin contact (e.g. use of local source capture ventilation and gloves), but those with existing allergies must avoid direct contact with the uncured product, as well as dust, filings, and the sticky inhibition layers that form on some UV gel enhancements during cure. I would recommend speaking to your personal physician for guidance and advice on steps you can take to help prevent aggravating your condition.

— Doug Schoon is chief scientific advisor for CND.


You may have hit a bump in the road. Allergies are a real problem for nail techs, and your health needs to come first. You can try air cleaners, masks, and different products. And even if those changes work now, they won’t work for long. That ugly monster will surface again when working with chemicals and dust. It’s just not good for someone with allergies and asthma. I am not a doctor, but I am a nail tech and a salon owner. You need to know that you can be successful as a natural nail artist. That would not have been true in the ’90s, but in today’s nail world you can specialize in natural nail care and have the busiest salon in town at the same time. Natural nail care also has a larger profit margin than enhancement services. In this market, the price we can charge for enhancements is being driven down. In many areas the price we can charge for a manicure is going up. I think there is nothing more beautiful than a healthy natural nail. Don’t get discouraged. Do nails with a passion, and you will be successful.

— Shari Finger is the owner of Finger’s Nail Studio in W. Dundee, Ill.


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What’s the cause of the pinkish-red oval area on the pad of my client’s toes?

I have a client who has a recurring problem with her fourth toes during the winter months. Both of her “ring finger” toes develop a pinkish-red oval area on the pad. Then a month later, when I see her again, the skin has become dry and hard like a callus, with the layers of skin peeling away to reveal a deeper, dark epicenter.  It’s extremely painful for her and, needless to say, we do not touch it. But it clears up in the summer when she’s wearing open-toed sandals, so I suspect it has to be due to the boots she wears in the winter. Plus she never puts lotion on her feet or uses a foot file in between visits. What do you think causes this?

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What are the big white spots on my natural-nail client’s nails?

I have a client who has been with me for about two years. She used to wear acrylic nails but has been a natural nail client for eight months or so. She has these white spots on her nails — big spots that are dry, but not flaky, right in the middle of the nail. I did try to buff them lightly but they do not come off or grow off. I had a new client come in last week who had the same on her toenails. She said it started after she had a pedicure done at another salon. Can you help?

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