Latex vs Nitrile vs Vinyl Gloves
Disposable gloves come in three main categories: latex, vinyl and nitrile. Each type of material has its own individual characteristics and is best suited for specific tasks. In the following article, we’ll go through each of the different kinds of gloves and help you choose the best type of gloves for your salon and services.
What are Latex Gloves?
Latex gloves are made of (unsurprisingly) latex, which is the soft white substance found underneath the bark of a mature rubber tree.
When used as a material to make gloves, latex offers the wearer superior levels of protection against infection, flexibility and comfort. They also offer high levels of touch sensitivity.
Latex gloves are used for any procedure or task requiring the aforementioned benefits, namely: flexibility, protection, comfort and sensitivity. The main downside to using latex gloves is that a significant number of people in the general population have a sensitivity - or even an allergy - to latex. Usually this allergy just causes some itchiness or the appearance of hives on the skin, but some people are severely allergic and can develop anaphylaxis.
What are Nitrile Gloves?
Nitrile gloves are made of a substance called “nitrile,” a synthetic rubber combination of acrylonitrile and butadiene. Unlike latex, it is not a naturally occurring substance. Nitrile disposable gloves are typically not as flexible or elastic as latex gloves, and do not offer the same levels of touch sensitivity. They are, however, more durable and protective.
Nitrile gloves are typically latex-free and powder-free. For that reason, they’re often used for clients with a latex allergy. They’re also often used in circumstances where wearers require the added durability or strength of the nitrile material.
What are VINYL Gloves?
Vinyl gloves are made from vinyl - also known as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC - a synthetic material made from ethylene and chlorine. Although vinyl gloves are not usually used for people who must handle dangerous chemicals or work in a biomedical setting, vinyl gloves are an effective option for general purpose tasks.
Vinyl gloves are extremely stretchy and comfortable, offering an enhanced tactile capability that makes it easy for beauty professionals to feel what they are working on. They are able to withstand punctures, over-stretching and general wear and tear while they protect against most substances. As a result, vinyl gloves are an excellent choice for beauty professionals - and given their price point, they are often used as cost-effective latex alternatives when users have a latex allergy.
Latex vs Nitrile vs Vinyl Gloves - What’s the Difference?
The difference between nitrile vs latex work gloves can be boiled down to one of sensitivity vs. durability. In environments where you need a lot of touch sensitivity, there’s really no disputing that latex gloves give you superior touch and feel compared to nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves, by contrast, are more durable options.
Vinyl has a tendency to break down more quickly than latex or nitrile, making this a slightly less durable glove option. However, vinyl gloves still work well for estheticians, nail technicians and for disinfecting and cleaning the salon. Vinyl gloves can also be used by hair colorists, but we recommend changing the gloves out frequently to ensure consistent protection.
There’s an important caveat here, though. If you’re in a situation where you require latex-free gloves because a person who will be in contact with the gloves has a latex sensitivity or allergy, you’ll need to have a non-latex option on hand. Nitrile and vinyl gloves can both be good options; even though vinyl gloves tend to be less durable than nitrile, by changing your gloves frequently you can get similar protection. Although investing in multiple types of gloves may come at an extra cost, having nitrile or vinyl options on hand to accommodate clients with latex allergies is an important consideration for ensuring a good client experience in your salon.
What are the Best Type of Disposable Gloves for Nail Techs?
The best gloves for nail techs are disposable nitrile gloves. Because nail techs need an increased level of protection due to infections and sharp objects, they're better off with the added durability and protection offered by nitrile gloves. It’s worth reiterating that the best nitrile gloves for nail technicians are also 100% disposable, to reduce the risk of infection to subsequent clients. Under no circumstances should nitrile gloves for nail technicians be reused.
What are the Best Type of Disposable Gloves for Hair Colorists?
The best hair color gloves are disposable, 100% nitrile, latex-free gloves. The added protection offered by nitrile gloves for hairdressers more than makes up for the slight loss in touch sensitivity compared to latex gloves. Since you’re handling chemicals on a regular basis, you’re definitely better off going with the more protective option for your hair dye gloves. Not to mention that this will protect latex-sensitive and allergic clients from developing a reaction to the latex in latex gloves.
What are the Best Type of Disposable Gloves for Makeup Artists?
The best makeup gloves for makeup artists are 100% latex gloves (with one important exception, which we’ll mention in a moment). The added sensitivity offered by latex - when compared to nitrile - makes latex an ideal choice for makeup artist gloves in any setting.
The one, critically important, exception to this rule is if you or your client has a known latex sensitivity or allergy. In that case, you’ll definitely want to switch to a 100% nitrile, latex free makeup glove.