What is an MSDS (SDS) sheet?

MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets): Nail Tech Responsibilities

Your eyes may glaze over at the mention of chemicals and paperwork and health and safety but it is a vital part of being a true nail professional.

What is an MSDS?

A Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) or otherwise known as Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a document that contains information on the potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity and environmental) and how to work safely and correctly with a chemical product.


Why do we need them?

The requirement to provide a material safety data sheet is part of the REACH Regulation.  REACH is an EU-Regulation, which places duties on the manufacturers, importers, suppliers and users of chemicals (Nail Tech).  This includes chemicals by themselves and chemicals in mixtures such as nail products and cleaning products.  Products requiring MSDS include (but are not limited to) acrylic monomers and polymers, resins, accelerators, adhesives, gels, polish, polish remover, primer, dehydrators, topcoats, disinfectants, cleaning solvents, nail art paint, quick-dry spray, and cuticle remover. Anything that is flammable, could cause irritation, ingestion problems or that could cause someone to slip (such as gels or oils) should also have an MSDS.

Majority of the products nail techs use contain ingredients that require specialist handling or storage.  As a professional nail tech, it is not only paramount to be skilled in the practical side of nail technology but fully understanding and up to date with the theory, health and safety and legislation of the chemicals that you are working with and exposing both the client and yourself to on a daily basis.

When used correctly and safety, chemicals are not a danger but can cause serious harm, allergies and much worse if not treated, stored, handled or disposed of correctly.

Our responsibilities

Nail techs are considered a ‘downstream user’, which is someone that uses chemicals as part of their business, so long as you only obtain the materials you use from suppliers based within the EU.  

Downstream users have minimal duties under REACH as the main burden lies with the manufactures and importers.  If you’re using formulated products (such as nail products, cleaning materials etc), REACH requires that you use them safely; considering any information provided to you by your suppliers e.g., in the MSDS where one is required or on the product label, and implementing appropriate risk management measures.  A Nail Tech should have these easily accessible in their business and be aware and understand the content.

Other products that you might use such as cleaning products should be supplied with a MSDS if they’re hazardous or contain hazardous ingredients.  If you buy these products from retailers or wholesalers (who also supply to the public) you might have to let them know you’re a professional user and request an MSDS, as there is no requirement to provide MSDS to the general public. 

Where to find them

It is essential for both suppliers and technicians to have access to and provide these when required.  They are often readily available to download from the brand website, however if they are not – please contact your brand to send these out to you as it is a legal requirement.

For ease, we keep a ring binder of all the MSDS sheets for all products we use in salon.  There is always more than one copy available.  If a client suffers from an allergy during treatment or a member of staff or customer has an accident, we advise them to seek medical advice.  It is good practice to send them to their medical professional with the MSDS sheets of the products used – this enables the medical professional to know exactly what ingredients that client has come into contact with and how to deal with the situation most efficiently.  If a fire started in your salon, firefighters would also need to check your MSDS to see what kind of chemicals they were dealing with.

For more information on your responsibilities and the latest legislation visit: http://www.hse.gov.uk/reach/resources/users.pdf

Learn how to store your nail products correctly here.

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