Monomers, Oligomers and Photoinitiators, Oh My!

Monomers, Oligomers and Photoinitiators


While they don’t exactly roll off the tongue, monomers, oligomers and photoinitiators are important in setting Dazzle Dry apart from UV gel and hybrid polish brands. But to better explain, we’ll need to take a quick trip back to chemistry class. Everyone have their lab coats? Let’s go!


The Science Behind Gel Nails

Monomers, oligomers and photoinitiators are essential in a photochemical reaction – a chemical process activated by light energy to form molecules different from the starting compounds. In this case, the monomers and oligomers are the starting compounds, and the end result is the polymer.


The reaction starts when the photoinitiator absorbs UV light and gets transported into an excited state, fragmenting to form free radicals. Those free radicals then react with the monomers and oligomers forming new free radicals until they become part of the resulting polymer. In the case of gel nails that use UV/LED light, the result is a dry coating on the nail.


The problem with the monomers and oligomers used in UV gels, however, is that oftentimes they’re acrylates and/or methacrylates, which are known to be skin sensitizers. So repeated or prolonged exposure to these ingredients will lead to skin irritation and, for some, contact allergic dermatitis.


Via Nails Magazine:

“According to, skin care experts are seeing a surge in serious allergic reactions to some nail treatment products. Patients are presenting with nail beds and cuticles that are very sore and sometimes blistered. The British Association of Dermatologists believes that increased home use of products containing chemicals to bond and cure acrylic and gel nail treatments are causing the problem.


If used correctly and with the correct equipment by trained professionals, the chemicals are harmless, but increased use of kits that are available to the general public online and in retail stores is leading to more and more serious allergic reactions.”


Initial skin exposure occurs when, instead of using one pad per nail to wipe off the top layer, one pad is used for all 10 nails and the uncured liquid of the top coat is transferred from one finger to the next. And prolonged exposure can happen when the product is undercured. Therefore, the coating, while appearing dry on the surface, actually has liquid monomer slowly migrating out and transferring to other parts of the body.


Ultimately, women who visit salons or do their own nails at home using these UV gel products every two to three weeks are receiving repeated exposure.


Overexposure of Hybrid Nails

Of course hybrid polishes contain lower concentrations of monomers, oligomers and photoinitiators than their UV counterparts. However, because their curing relies on exposure to sunlight instead of the more intense UV or LED lamps at the salon, these reactive ingredients are present longer and therefore there is a higher chance of overexposure to them.


Chemical-Free Nail Lacquers

In the end, a nail care system without monomers, oligomers and photoinitiators is always the healthier alternative, which is why many customers today choose Dazzle Dry. Our quick-drying, long-lasting lacquers are not only free of these chemicals, they also deliver a hard-set coat without the need for UV/LED light.  Talk about a win, win.