Is It Safe To Buy Gel Polish From Amazon?

Is it safe to buy gel nail polish from Amazon? 

Here are my thoughts as a nail tech and what I would personally do! 

Cost vs Quality

Most gel products found on amazon are there to serve the general public and are not made with the final consumers’ health or safety in mind. The reason why the products are so inexpensive (like 6 polishes for $7, you can’t even find regular nail polish for that price - it’s crazy to me lol), is because they are using such low quality ingredients. I would be very skeptical at the price alone. 

I’ve tried lower quality products found on amazon, and in general from the ones I’ve tried, their quality is very bad. They smell like super strong chemicals, and the consistency/color payoff is really weak so you need like 5 coats to get the color you’re looking for. Of course this isn’t always the case but that is just not a pleasant experience. Overall, the quality seems like it’s inconsistent from what I’ve tried. 

Lastly, on quality, when these products are made with inconsistent or unsafe levels of specific ingredients, like resins or monomers (like HEMA) needed to polymerize the gel, it’s likely and possible that they won’t be able to fully cure on your nails, which is where the real issue lies. More on HEMA below!

Gel allergies and sensitivities are caused by leaving uncured gel on your skin and nails. These cheap gels are oftentimes paired with cheap lamps or flash curing lamps that couldn’t even cure high quality polishes. So if you’re using low quality products with a low quality lamp, it’s possible that it will never be able to cure fully. If you’re using low quality products with a better quality lamp, it’s still possible that the gel is harmful for you because it is never fully curing, or if you accidentally get it on your skin/sidewalls/cuticles, it’s still a problem. 

This is the biggest issue that I have with gel products being sold on Amazon for just anyone to use because it can literally be harmful to your health. This isn’t the case with most other cheap beauty products and there is simply not enough awareness about it in my opinion. Educating yourself on how to use gel products SAFELY is the most important thing you can do when using them. People are always going to to their own nails, but doing them safely and correctly should be your top priority! 

Long answer short: I would never trust a gel polish bought on amazon due to the risk that it poses for your health.

If you’re a diyer or a professional especially, I would highly recommend investing in higher quality gel polishes *that are manufactured for professionals* (not the general public) because you will be keeping yourself (and clients!) safer (with proper use and a proper lamp), the product will be more pleasant to work with/won’t take as long to work with, and your nails will ultimately look better and last longer, which in turn keeps them healthier, too. 

What I recommend when looking for a gel product instead are the following: 

Manufacturing Process: Do they own their manufacturing process? Do they outsource manufacturing? Do they have much control or any control over their gel “recipe”?

Testing: Has the brand been around for a while with consistent and positive reviews? Can you find their Safety Data Sheet? Can you ensure that their polymer or HEMA levels are 35% or below? Additional notes on HEMA below:

A note on HEMA!

HEMA is hydroxyethyl methacrylate and is a very commonly villanized ingredient in gel products. HEMA is a monomer that is used to polymerize the gel (aka cure it!) and it's used to help the gel adhere to your nails.

HEMA is a well known ingredient because it’s used in a bunch of things that you might interact with in daily life, and also dental/medical procedures that I mentioned above, and because of that, it’s the most well known ingredient and talked about more frequently than others

When HEMA is removed, another monomer must be put in its place so that the gel will cure. 

There are two parts to this that I've learned from my research, but I would suggest watching this YouTube video if you're interested in learning even more. 

One - HEMA is a monomer, so it's very small. It's also water soluble and can easily be absorbed into your skin when it's exposed to water and cause sensitivities or allergies. If the gel is left uncured on your nails, this means that every time you wash your hands or shower, it's possible that the uncured HEMA is leeching into your skin. Repeated overexposure can lead to a HEMA allergy. 

This is why I highly suggest investing in a quality lamp to avoid leaving any uncured gel on your nails. This is also why I don't think using low quality amazon gels on top of a higher quality base is such a good idea because it might 1) not cure fully due to the low quality formulation and/or 2) there is still a risk that you can get the product on your skin during application and also during removal whether you're soaking it off or filing it off, if it's uncured, the removal can disperse it onto your skin even more. 

Two - Low quality brands are keeping their costs down generally by using high levels of HEMA in their gels to help it adhere and last longer on your nails. So just because your gels are lasting on your nails, doesn't mean it's a good quality / safe product to use all of the sudden. 

Brands with better quality formulations are either using more stable forms of HEMA, a smaller amount (aka it will be lower down on their ingredient list) or possibly a form of HEMA that's joined with another monomer making it larger and not as easily able to absorb into your skin. 

I’ve seen a lot of people think that using HEMA free gel makes it safer or a more certain way to avoid gel allergies but that’s simply not true at all. I’ve also gotten a bunch of comments from people who think they’ve developed a HEMA allergy from using their gel, but you might actually be allergic to something else in the product that isn’t the HEMA, which is why it’s so important to get an allergy test.

In general, HEMA itself is not a bad ingredient, it’s just a part of the formula. Of course, there are exceptions when it's in a product in high/unsafe levels, and if you are allergic to it, you should avoid it.

Also it’s important to look at the polish’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to make sure the HEMA (and the new monomer if it's not HEMA) levels are 35% or below, which is the threshold for safe use in gel. If you aren’t able to find this info from the brand you are looking at, RUN lol.

But there really is no need to avoid products that contain HEMA altogether when you’re starting with gel if you don’t have a known sensitivity or allergy to it. You can just as easily develop an allergy to a HEMA free product as a product with HEMA if it’s used/applied incorrectly.  

I personally love using Japanese and Korean gel products and I have so many blog posts about both of these with a bunch of recommendations. If you are new to gel nails and don’t want to invest too much to start out, I would HIGHLY recommend starting with Japanese or Korean gel because of everything I mentioned above. Invest in 3 quality products to get started and then build your collection slowly. It’s not worth using cheap gels because you might use them incorrectly, or they are just unsafe in general, and if you develop an allergy, you won’t be able to use gel no matter what. 

Here are some recommendations: 

New to gel recommendations: 

Kokoist Megastick Base

Nail Thoughts Builder Base Gels

Nail Thoughts Color Gels

Kokoist Ultra Glossy Top Coat

You can use code KARA10 on Kokoist, Sweetie Nail Supply & my courses to save 10%!

Blog Posts:

Kokoist System 101

Nail Thoughts Bases 101

Korean Gel Products 

My Exact Gel Process

Educate Yourself:

Basic Gel Manicure Course

Advanced Gel Manicure Course

Basic & Advanced Gel Manicure Course Bundle (save $25!)

These are all of my thoughts and opinions as a nail tech & educator and I hope you learned something useful! Thank you for reading and be sure to follow me on my socials for more info!



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