Since its launch in 2019, we haven't stopped saying it: Green Flash is a real innovation in the gel nail polish market. But how is it different from the previous generation of gel nail polishes? What more (or should we say what less) does it have?
What is a traditional gel nail polish? This type of nail polish came onto the scene in 2011 as an alternative to coloured gel nails. Unlike gel nails which are removed by filing the nail, gel nail polish can be removed using acetone-free nail polish remover, so it's far less abrasive. It also delivers in terms of staying power: it lasts for at least two weeks. What's more, it's ultra-quick-drying: you place your hands under a UV lamp for less than a minute between coats. No wonder busy women who don't have time for a manicure every 3 days are impressed!
But take a closer look at the list of ingredients and your stomach will sink...
A far-from-flawless formula
Most of the gel nail polishes on the market contain molecules that aren't exactly safe for your health.
Monomers: too small to be honest
Let's start off by talking about acrylic and methacrylic monomers. These molecules are what makes the polish stick to the nail and they account for 10-20% of gel nail polish ingredients. You'll often see them referred to as HEMA, HPMA or THFMA.
When you place your hand under the LED lamp, the molecules react with the UV light and bond to each other, forming a polymer network. The result of this chemical reaction is a completely solid coat of nail polish. We say that the formula has been "cured" or "polymerised".
The risk with these small molecules is that they don't all react: instead of bonding to form a polymer, some remain in monomer form. The problem with these monomers is that they are sensitising molecules. When you use acetone to remove the gel polish, it makes it easier for these very small monomers to pass through the skin barrier into the bloodstream.
According to an ANSES article, these acrylate and methacrylate monomers are sensitising (responsible for allergic contact dermatitis), irritating and can trigger respiratory problems like asthma.
Other dermatological studies have demonstrated the allergenic effects of the monomers present in gel nails and gel nail polish. They are often the cause of itching, redness and flaking skin on the hands. A 2018 study by the Taiwanese Dermatological Association reported cases of dermatitis resulting from the repeated application of products containing monomers.
Hydroquinone, a preservative that doesn't have your best interests at heart
As well as potentially unsafe monomers, gel nail polish also contains hydroquinone. This molecule is a preservative: it helps stabilise the formula to stop the polish from reacting with the oxygen in the air (it's not easy applying polish that has completely solidified in the bottle!).
The downside is that this compound is classed as a CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic and Reprotoxic). That's why it's not allowed in beauty products sold to the public. In professional products the compound is highly regulated: the concentration of hydroquinone must be less than 200 ppb (parts per billion). This means for every billion molecules that make up the gel polish formula, only 200 can be hydroquinone molecules.
In light of all these risks, we were not prepared to offer a traditional gel nail polish under the Manucurist brand. But that was before the Green Flash innovation!
Why is Green Flash different?
You might remember the Green Flash launch in 2019, but its story started much earlier. We had been working for more than a year on a non-allergenic, non-carcinogenic formula containing no controversial molecules. This is how we found out we could replace monomers and hydroquinone and offer you the first clean gel nail polish on the market!
Oligomers are the new monomers
Bye bye acrylic and methacrylic monomers—Green Flash doesn't need you. Our formula contains oligomers instead. They do the same job by using UV light to bond and form a network. Ta-da—your Green Flash is dry!
These molecules are larger than monomers—large enough to find it impossible to penetrate the skin barrier. Unlike monomers, oligomers don't pass into your bloodstream when you remove or apply your Green Flash.
Time to wave goodbye to hydroquinone!
We decided to replace this preservative with butylhydroxytoluene or BHT (not to be confused with BHA, which is potentially carcinogenic). Using this molecule on the skin or ingesting it in large quantities is also controversial. Its use is therefore subject to European cosmetic regulations and a number of toxicological studies have been carried out it. No risk has been identified with applying it to the nail in very small quantities, and BHT has proven to be the best alternative to hydroquinone.
But we're not stopping there…
Green Flash, just like our Green polish, is 9-free, unlike a lot of other gel polishes on the market!
This means the formula contains no:
- dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
- ethyl tosylamide
To find out what molecules we have replaced them with, check out the Philosophy page in our Blacklist section.
The Manucurist team makes your health their priority! Green Flash is the result of a long development journey to replace all these harmful molecules with alternatives that don't pose a danger to your body. The challenge was considerable: to create a clean, green formula without compromising on staying power or colour quality. But we believed it could be done, and now we're leading a gel polish revolution!
Any questions? Post your comments and we'll be happy to respond! Don't forget to tag us on Instagram (@manucurist) and share your “Green Flash experience” with us.