nail salon Maple Ridge

What You Should Know About Acrylic Nails

Acrylic Nail Enhancements – What you should know before you make the commitment

Acrylic nail enhancements are one of the best ways to achieve amazing nail designs and when performed by an experienced nail technician with good quality materials, the results can be breathtaking!!!

There are a few things that every savvy woman should know before she makes a commitment to acrylic nails:

  • Acrylic nails are achieved by mixing powders and liquids.  The powder component of the acrylic system is called polymer and the liquid component is called monomer.
  • The odour that you often smell in a typical salon is the monomer in the acrylic liquid!  There are new odourless systems now being marketed and used in Salons across North America.  At Cloud Nine Nail Bar we have chosen an odourless system byAkzentz developed and produced in Canada.
  • Polymer and monomer are combined to create a solid substance of the artificial nail.
  • Two types of polymer are used in acrylic powered: MMA and EMA.
    • MMA: typical applications include Plexiglas, dentist filling and bone cement for replacing hip joints; as you can imagine, this results in a harder and stronger finished product – MMA is prohibited and using MMA as part of the acrylic process can cause serious complications (see below).  MMA is 1/16th the cost of EMA – you can imagine why this would be product of choice for salons looking to cut costs and provide services at a significant discount to those salons who only use APPROVED products – you can read more below!!
    • EMA: Is approved for use by the FDA.  The primary difference between MMA and EMA is that EMA has extra Carbon or Hydrogen atoms, meaning it can be the difference between making a potentially harmful poison or something that is not harmless when used by the professional!!

At Cloud Nine Nail steppe only use acrylic materials that are APPROVED and do not contain MMA!

We have included some information below taken from the website:

What are the health risks associated with MMA products?

MMA-related complaints range from skin allergies to permanent loss of the nail plate.  Here are the most common complaints that prompted the FDA to take action:

Nail Infections

The surface bond of the MMA acrylic is so strong to the soft tissue that even a slight trauma to the nail can cause the nail to break and lift off the nail bed. This can result in serious nail breaks, infection and loss of the nail plate. Ironically, it is the strength of the acrylic that attracts some users of the product. While MMA used in the medical and dental industries provides superior adhesion to bone, it is not appropriate or safe for use on the softer nail tissue.

Respiratory problems and eye, nose and throat irritation.

MMA vapors are toxic even in small doses and can cause lung, liver and heart valve damage, especially with long term exposure. This has been documented in laboratory animals as well as in lab technicians from dental labs where crowns and dentures are made. Wearing a mask does nothing to prevent inhalation of MMA fumes. Masks only reduce the inhalation of acrylic dust.

Permanent Nail Deformities

The small molecular structure of MMA makes it possible for it to be absorbed through even unbroken skin. It can also actually do permanent damage to the matrix of the nail and further absorb into the body. While MMA will not store in the tissue, it is stored as methanol in the blood and urine.

Severe Allergic Reactions

Repeated exposure to products containing MMA can result in severe allergic reactions. Redness, swelling and itching are common symptoms which can lead to the development of tiny blisters around the cuticles and fingertips. These blisters can develop into open sores, and the fingertips may become numb or feel itchy under the nail.
MMA sticks better the EMA products?   FALSE

When EMA Acrylic products are applied properly they should adhere as well if not better than MMA products.  It is not true that MMA has better adhesion.  It is just that MMA users, use drillsor very course files to prep the nail and this is what causes superior adhesion (and severe nail plate damage).  MMA in fact does not adhere well to natural nails at all if it were to be applied in the same manner that we apply traditional acrylics. NOTE: Drills must be used in salons that use MMA a regular file cannot quickly file the surface of an MMA nail.
However…Please note… that NOT all salons that use drills…  use MMA, many do not!.


If my acrylic products don’t contain MMA, what ingredients do they contain?
Are they harmful?

All of the traditional acrylic liquids that are available through main stream sources contain EMA Ethyl Methacrylate, which is free of the hazards associated with MMA. While it is true that both EMA and MMA can also be found in the powder phase of acrylic products, this is a form of co-polymers. The co-polymers, Polymethyl Methacrylate and Polyethylene Methacrylate, are completely harmless in the powder because the molecules are already polymerized and too large to evaporate or penetrate the skin. EMA was developed for use in the nail industry for application of acrylic nails, and works much the same as MMA in process only.

What’s the difference between EMA and MMA?

In chemistry, one small alteration such as adding an extra Carbon or Hydrogen atom can mean the difference between making a potentially harmful poison or something that is not harmless when used by the professional. Although close cousins, EMA has a slight, but significantly different molecular structure than MMA. This gives EMA the desirable acrylic qualities without the undesirable side effects so often seen with MMA.


Only three atoms distinguish the difference between EMA and MMA. However, this small chemical difference makes EMA much safer. An example is the difference between poisonous wood alcohol (methanol) and beverage alcohol (ethanol). Again the difference between the two molecules is only three atoms. Yet wood alcohol is deadly if consumed. Beverage alcohol is considered safe (if not used in excess!).

Why is it safe to use MMA in the dental and medical industries?

The dental industry makes dental composites sometimes using MMA as a monomer. However, teeth are a much harder substance and less penetrable than the softer, keratin protein of nails. Additionally, most dental prosthetics are made outside of the mouth. And, like nail acrylic, once polymerized and cured, dental composites are safe when placed in contact with human tissue. The exposure rate is also completely different. A client who wears acrylic nails may have a fill every two weeks. The same client may only have a few dental prosthetics throughout a lifetime.


How do I know if a salon is using products containing MMA?

MMA Acrylic nails are difficult or impossible to remove.

Once hardened through polymerization, acrylic nails made with MMA monomer are solvent resistant. It can take two hours or more to dissolve when immersed in a solvent, whereas nail products made with EMA take only 20 to 30 minutes to dissolve. To speed up the removal process, the salon may choose to use an electric drill or extremely coarse file to remove the MMA acrylic. Since it may be difficult to see where the nail has grown, the chance of filing into the natural nail are great, often leaving behind a damaged, thin nail plate leading to permanent nail deformities. I would recommend filing the product thin and leave the remaining layer on until it grows out. Once the product is cured there is no danger to the client and would create less damage to the nail in the long run.


An unusually powerful, noxious odour

Volatility is what gives acrylic products their characteristic odours. Smaller methacrylate molecules are more volatile, producing a much stronger odour. MMA is the smallest methacrylate molecule used, hence the powerful odours associated with these illegal nail products. The safe Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) used in many of today’s mainstream acrylics are also has small molecules and a strong smell, though not as small as the MMA variety.


Low priced full sets and fills

The cost of a gallon of MMA liquid monomer ranges from $9.00 to $22.00. The cost of EMA liquid monomer ranges from $189 to $219 per gallon. For discount salons, cost outweighs the safety factors. While MMA monomer may cost less to buy, the health risks are more costly in the long run. The sad thing is many times the salon techs have no idea that the MMA liquid is dangerous or that is, in fact, what they are using. The owner normally pours the gallon into yorker bottles with no labels or they pour them in name brands like OPI or Creative Nail that way the techs, inspectors and clients don’t know what kind of product they are using. What happens when a salon tests positive for MMA containing products?

Salons that are identified as using MMA products are at risk for citation, fines and even loss of licensing. However it is extremely difficult to cite salons unless inspectors can find “dental monomer: containers. Many salons hide the containers in the back, or refill brand containers.

The following is Reprinted with permission from Nails Magazine.  It is a grass roots campaign aimed at consumers….It was started by salons that are concerned about their industry.

Are you concerned that you have been exposed to MMA?

MMA (Methyl Methacrylate) is a liquid monomer deemed poisonous and dangerous by the FDA and is now being used improperly in the beauty industry for artificial nail applications in some salons.

Indications that MMA has been used on you:

  • Operators Most Often Wear Masks (FDA has deemed this substance poisonous)
  • Drill Use should never be damaging or painful. Drills are always used with MMA.
  • Operators/Owners/Management are secretive about product brand names
  • Distinctly different odour from regular nail acrylic
  • Usually low service pricing (MMA Liquid costs $20 a gallon. Industry approved Acrylic Liquid cost $200 a gallon)
  • Artificial Surface will not release under extreme pressure (MMA nails rarely lift or break and will take the nail plate off the nail bed if enough pressure is applied to break it.)
    Other Important Factors to Consider when choosing a Salon
  • All operators must be licensed and the license should be visibly posted
  • Proper Sanitation Methods should be used
  • Inquiries should be answered in a professional and educated mannerSalons using MMA will probably not inform you of the potential dangers. We the professional salons in your area want you, the consumer to understand the importance of this issue.