Month: December 2012

Salon Magazine – Contessa Winner’s Issue!!

Once again, I am super excited!!!  Salon Magazine has published their digital edition of their Contessa Winner’s Issue – and yours truly is in it!!

Here is the link to the online copy – I’m not able to post the actual page.  But I’m on page 36 and 80!  My actual copy should be here any day!

Here are my winning photos again for you to see, with much thanks to Laura Wilby for the pictures.  🙂13_NA_R_Schwartz_02a2013_NA_R_Schwartz_01.ajpg copy13_NA_R_Schwartz_03a



Some Interesting Nail Facts

There are many interesting facts that are related to nails. Some of these facts are pure superstition but most of them are scientific. Even some of the superstition beliefs draw attention with the presence of logic in them. So, here are some interesting facts about nails:


  • Nails are actually the same as hair. Both hair and nails are made of the same protein, called keratin.
  • The nail plates are dead cells and contrary to the popular belief, they don’t breathe. So they don’t require oxygen. However, the nail beds and the cuticles are live cells and they do need oxygen, vitamins and minerals.
  • Nails don’t sweat. The nail bed does not have sweat glands, so it can’t perspire. It is the skin around the nails that gets sweaty.
  • Nails grow at the rate of 0.1 mm daily (or 1 cm in every 100 days). So, for a finger nail to regrow completely, it takes between 4 and 6 months. For toe nails, the period of complete regrow is 12 to 18 months.
  • Men’s nails grow faster than women’s nails.
  • Finger nails for both genders grow faster than toe nails.
  • Toe nails are about twice thicker than finger nails.
  • The fastest growing nail is on the middle finger. The slowest – on the thumbnail.
  • When nails are freshly cut, they grow faster than nails that are not cut often. That is why it takes so much time to grow nails longer than an inch (breaking nails is excluded).
  • Seasons and weather also affect nail growth. Nails grow faster in warm climates and during daytime, than in cold climates and at night.
  • Nails grow faster on young people than on old people. Also nails grow much faster during pregnancy.
  • Nails grow at different speeds on both hands. If you are right-handed, the nails on your right hand will grow faster than the nails on your left hand and vice versa.
  • Light trauma, like typing on a computer stimulates nail growth. Well, this kind of trauma looks more like a massage actually.
  • Cutting your nails after dark is bad luck. Although this is pure superstition, there is enough logic in it – if you cut your nails when there is not enough light, you can injure yourself.
  • Some mammals, for example elephants, have 5 nails on each of the their front legs and most often only 4 nails per hind leg.
  • It is a myth that hair and nails will continue to grow for several days after death. This is an optical illusion and is due to the fact that the skin shrinks, thus making it look as if the hair and nails are growing.
  • Nails are very tough (compared to skin of course) but even they will be dissolved in about 4 days, if you put them in Coke because Coke is highly corrosive.
  • Nail manicure is a very ancient activity. There is evidence that even 4,000 years ago it was known to our predecessors.
  • The longest finger nail ever recorded was that of an Indian guy and it was 48 inches long.
  • If you don’t drink enough water, this is bad for your health anyway but you might have never expected that it leads to dry nails as well.
  • A hang nail is painful because you have ripped open the edge of the living nail root.

Our nails are a reflection of our health.  Here is some fab facts that I found on another great wordpress blog and I wanted to share them with you.   Thanks to  Alexandra Teagan for the info.

The nails, skin, tongue, and hair are all outward reflections of your inner health, and we can learn to read these signs with practice and study. The nails are alive and always growing and they’re quick to show us what might be going on in the body. REMEMBER- everything you see on the outside of your body, is a reflection of something going on inside your body.

Here are some examples:

Dry, brittle nails that break easily could indicate a deficiency of silicon, calcium, and zinc.

Ridges along nails could mean that you have poor digestion or lack hydrochloric acid.

White spots on fingernails may indicate zinc deficiency.

Thin, flat, spoon-shaped nails can be a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency.

A deep blue color to the nails may indicate a lack of oxygen in the tissues due to asthma or emphysema.

Nails that come off or separate from the fingers may indicate problems with the thyroid.

Thick cuticles can indicate poor digestion of protein.

Unusually wide, square nails can suggest a hormonal disorder.

Brittle nails signify possible iron deficiency, thyroid problems, impaired kidney function, and circulation problems.

Brittle soft, shiny nails with a moon may indicate an overactive thyroid.

Dark nails and/or thin, flat, spoon-shaped nails are a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia.

Nails can turn gray or dark if the hands are placed in chemicals (most often bleach) or a substance to which one is allergic.

Deep blue nail beds show a pulmonary obstructive disorder such as asthma or emphysema.

Greenish nails, if not a result of a localized fungal infection, may indicate an internal bacterial infection.

Black, splinter like bits under the nails can be a sign of infectious endocarditits, a serious heart infection; other heart disease; or a bleeding disorder.

A half-white nail with dark spots at the tip points to possible kidney disease.

An isolated dark-blue bank in the nail bed, especially in light-skinned people, can be a sign of skin cancer.

Nail beading (the development of bumps on the surface of the nail) is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.

Nails that chip, peel, crack, or break easily show a general nutritional deficiency and insufficient hydrochloric acid and protein. Minerals are also needed.

Vertical ridges indicate poor general health, poor nutrient absorption, and/or iron deficiency; they may also indicate a kidney disorder.

Horizontal ridges can occur as a result of severe stress, either psychological or physical, such as from infection and/or disease.

White lines across the nail may indicate liver disease.

If the white moon area of the nail turns red, it may indicate heart problems, if it turns slate blue, then it can indicate either heavy metal poisoning (such as silver poisoning) or lung trouble.

White nails indicate possible liver or kidney disorders or/and anemia.

White nails with pink near the tips are a sign of cirrhosis.

Yellow nails or an elevation of the nail tips can indicate internal disorders such as problems with the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.

Downward-curved nail ends may denote heart, liver or respiratory disease.


What’s really in our Nail Polish anyway?


Secret Ingredient: Nail Polish

From tosylamide/formaldehyde resin to stearalkonium bentonite, ingredient names can sound more like a top secret formula for NASA than a recipe for regular old nail polish. Each of these ingredients, however, has a purpose and plays a part in the overall performance of the polish.M-na0611polish-Bottle-drip-1

Polish. We all use it. We all love it. But what exactly is it made of? From tosylamide/formaldehyde resin to stearalkonium bentonite, ingredient names can sound more like a top secret formula for NASA than a recipe for regular old nail polish. Each of these ingredients, however, has a purpose and plays a part in the overall performance of the polish.

Polish typically consists of four major types of ingredients:

1. POLYMERS make up the backbone of the polish, and they consist of two main chemicals, Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin (TSF Resin) and Nitrocellulose. These two work together to produce the characteristic hard shiny surface and strong adhesion that is typical in all polishes.

Nitrocellulose — a primary film former; it creates the hard shiny surface of polish but is brittle when used on its own; the polymer comes from cotton or wood chips by way of a chemical reaction of nitric and sulfuric acids.

Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin (TSF Resin) — a film former that works with nitrocellulose to reduce brittleness, improve adhesion, and create a more durable polish. (Note that this is not formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is a clear colorless gas that is not used in nail polish.  You will never find formaldehyde listed as an ingredient in nail polish, but you will find it in some nail hardeners.)

2. PLASTICIZERS make the polish more flexible and increase its durability.

Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP) — an ingredient used to make nail polish more flexible, thus increasing its durability. This ingredient was controversially banned in the European Union as part of a sweeping ban of hundreds of chemicals. Many scientists feel the ingredient is safe; however, a number of American polish manufacturers have taken the chemical out of their formulations. Replacements for this ingredient are many and varied; common ones include a combination of trimethyl pentanyl diisobutyrate and triphenyl phosphate.

Camphor — an ingredient that increases flexibility and comes from the camphor tree.

3. PIGMENTS are used to create the color of each polish. A combination of naturally occurring and manufactured pigments are blended together to create varying shades.

Mica — a natural pigment that gives a shimmery look.

Silica — a thickening agent that prevents premature settling of pigments and lowers the gloss of polish.

Titanium Dioxide — an ingredient used to increase the opacity or “coverage” of polish; often used as a white pigment.

Bismuth Oxychloride — a special effect pigment that adds a pearlescent shimmer.

Citric Acid — a stabilizing agent produced from the fermentation of sugar cane and used to control the color of the pigment.

Other Common Pigments:
Ferric Ammonium Ferrocyanide
D & C Red #6 Barium Lake
D & C Red #7 Calcium Lake
FD & C Yellow #5 Aluminum Lake
CI 777266
CI 77891
CI 15880

4. SOLVENTS help make the polish spreadable. They keep the ingredients consistently dissolved in the polish during application, but slowly evaporate away after the polish has been applied. Solvents evaporate at different rates, so many solvents are used together to create an ideal evaporation time.

Ethyl Alcohol —  a solvent used to dissolve the ingredients in the polish.

Isopropyl Alcohol — a solvent that helps prevent a possible explosion of nitrocellulose during shipment and storage; also used in rubbing alcohol and antibacterial gels.

Ethyl Acetate — a solvent that is manufactured from acetic acid (vinegar) and ethanol, and has a fruity odor. This solvent evaporates the fastest.

Propyl Acetate — a solvent manufactured from acetic acid and a mixture of propene and propane gases. This solvent evaporates the second fastest.

Butyl Acetate — a solvent manufactured from acetic acid and butanol, both of which can be produced via fermentation. This solvent evaporates the slowest.

Toluene — a solvent that controls the evaporation rate and the smoothness of the final coating; this solvent has encountered controversy because many feel it can cause liver and nervous system damage, while many others feel these fears are irrational and unfounded. Many polish manufacturers have removed this from their formulations.

Stearalkonium Bentonite — a thickening agent that controls flow during application and helps prevent rapid settling of pigments.

Benzophenone-1 — a UV-absorber that prevents color changes of the polish while in the bottle.

Dimethicone — a “drying agent” used to speed the drying of nail polish; usually the main ingredient found in nail polish dryers.


Toxic Nails?

This is some very valuable information on MMA, Acrylic Nails and what you should all know.  We are in a buyer-beware industry, so please don’t hesitate to ask before you have your nails done what kind of product they are using.  A lot of salons out there use what’s more cost effective for them, and not necessarily better for the consumer.   We all want to keep our nails healthy and looking their best, this is the information that will help you do that.



What is MMA?
Methyl Methacrylate is an ingredient that was commonly used in early “nail porcelains.”
In the early 1970’s, the Food and Drug Administration received numerous complaints of personal injuries associated with the use of acrylic monomer formulated with MMA.
The reports included serious nail damage or loss, contact dermatitis, organ damage from long term use, soreness and infection due to breaks caused by rigidly adhered acrylic.

By the end of the 1970’s, the FDA had taken action against several manufacturers that marketed MMA liquid monomers. Since the FDA does not review or approve cosmetics before they go to market – only taking legal action if a product poses a safety problem – certain disreputable manufacturers continue to formulate products with MMA.

Most main stream acrylic manufacturers use a product called EMA or Ethyl Methacrylate which has been deemed much safer for use in the beauty industry.  With the surge in salon growth and many salons looking to cut costs of supplies MMA has shown it’s ugly head again. (MMA is 1/6th the price of EMA.)

Recently articles have appeared in newspapers and industry gossip has said that if consumers want the salon to use MMA on their nails because it will last longer…. what is the big deal?  Well the big deal is…we do not know how much internal organ damage, respiratory, eye damage & allergic responses etc… MMA does and at what speed it happens….but it does happen…make no mistake about it.  I was outraged when I read an article from a consumer in a New Hampshire newspaper claim it was her right to have MMA applied to her nails if she wished it. How irresponsible of her!

Getting MMA out of the salons and off clients hands will take the combined effort of state regulators, salons and consumers. In lieu of federal intervention, there are steps salons can take to discourage the use of products formulated with MMA. While the industry waits for the FDA to put more force behind the MMA issue, many manufacturers are addressing the dangers.

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 drills  or 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 can not 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 Polyethyl 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 odor.
Volatility is what gives acrylic products their characteristic odors. Smaller methacrylate molecules are more volatile, producing a much stronger odor. MMA is the smallest methacrylate molecule used, hence the powerful odors 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.

So, I got these special “Solar Nails”… can you fix them?

Well maybe you did not get anything as special as the nail technician lead you and your wallet to belive. This article is extremely long, but very important for every woman and man who patronizes salons for nail services to read. If you have read some of the news articles here or at www.beautytech.INFO about the damage done, in some cases permanent, to consumers, you owe it to your health to be more informed. Nail services is not simply a beautification process, it involves the use of chemicals which could cause you harm if not properly applied. First and foremost it is utterly important for all consumers receiving nail services to understand that these services are supposed to be relaxing and pleasurable, NOT painful.  This is a long read , but it’s well worth it.


  • If the technician hurts you – LEAVE
  • If the salon is dirty – LEAVE
  • If the technician is using DIRTY, USED implements, files etc on you – LEAVE
  • If the technician is using chemicals in unmarked containers – LEAVE
  • If the technician can not/will not answer your questions about the products used – LEAVE
  • If the technician can not/will not answer your questions about their sanitation procedures – LEAVE
  • If you are getting any type of enhancement service and the technician is slopping product all over, getting it on your skin – LEAVE
  • If the technician attempts to PRY or RIP off your current enhancements – LEAVE — LEAVE RIGHT NOW — LEAVE IMMEDIATELYNail services should NOT be painful. If the technician is causing you ANY pain, seek out another more qualified technician immediately, DO NOT allow the technician to continue the service. Seek out the state’s complaint form and submit it promptly with photos if possible. Many states will only act upon receiving complaints from consumers. Nail technicians across the country and around the world have been commenting that some salons are “duping” their clients by stating they are receiving a special service and charging more money when in reality they are getting a very common normal service with a fancy name at an inflated price.

    You need to understand the basic types of fingernail enhancement services and their differences to know what you are paying for:

    • Acrylic is a liquid & powder mixed, applied with a brush that will harden (cure) with no lamp in 2 minutes or less.
    • Gel is, in basic terms, pre mixed acrylic in a gel like state, that almost always needs to be cured under a UV lamp, Acrylic usually has an odor while gels are general completely odorless. Gels often will cost slightly more than acrylic.
    • Silk (interchangeable with fiberglass and sometimes linen) is applied with resin (glue) and sometimes glue & acrylic powder (Dip System).
    • Acrylic Dips is the use of resin applied tot he nail, then dipped or sprinkled with acrylic powder
    • Crystal nails is any type of enhancement done with CLEAR acrylic, gel or resin either with clear tips or sculpted.
    • All of the above systems can be applied:
      • Directly on your nail (overlay)
      • On tips that have been applied with resin (glue) or acrylic
      • Sculpted using a paper, plastic or metal form.
    • All of the above types of services can be finished with a UV gel top coat to protect the enhancement. The UV coating is applied either with a brush or polished on and is “cured” under a UV lamp for around 3 minutes. UV top coats are very protective to the enhancement and will need to be filed off at your next appointment. There might be a slight additional charge for this extra.
    • A “French Manicure” can be done using several different techniques – #2,3,4 are also referred to as “Pink & Whites or “Permanent French” – #3,4 will usually cost more:
      1. Using polish over any type of enhancement or natural nails
      2. Applying white tips with a clear or sheer pink acrylic or gel, or resin with fiberglass or acrylic powder.
      3. Applying natural colored tips with white acrylic or gel, resin with fiberglass or acrylic powder in the tip and clear or a sheer pink on the nail bed.
      4. Using a “form” and sculpting the white tip using acrylic, or gel and clear or a sheer pink on the nail bed.
      5. Airbrushed over any enhancement or natural nail
    Examples of typical scams include:
    • SOLAR NAILS – Solar Nails is a BRAND of acrylic manufactured by Creative Nail Design. It is one of the original brands. It is a true acrylic and nothing more.
    • GEL NAILS – which are actually acrylics with a UV gel top coat
    • CRYSTAL NAILS – simply a clear tip with clear acrylic overlaid on the entire enhancement
    • PORCELAIN NAILS – nothing more than acrylic or gels possibly with a UV gel top coat
    • DIAMOND NAILS – the reason these are “more expensive” is because they are hard like diamonds
    • BAIT & SWITCH – salons will have three jars on the table, possibly hand labeled, one says acrylic, one says gel and one says fiberglass. They are all acrylic, but the consumer will be told fiberglass and gel are better for their nails and cost more
    • SHELLAC’D WHEN IT’S NOT– A regular polish with a UV top coat is NOT “Shellac” or any of the new Gel Polish brands (eco So Quick, Gelish etc). A UV Top coat (needing to put your hands in a lamp to “cure”) will NOT allow the polish underneath to dry properly. If the salon is selling you a “Gel Polish Service” no matter what brand or what they call it, EVERY layer needs to be cured under the UV lamp. Ask to see the bottle or jar WITH a brand name on it.

    NONE of the above services are anything special, nor should they incur any additional cost.  


    Additional information about acrylic liquid monomer chemicals: The 2 types of acrylic liquid monomer chemical used in our industry are:

    EMA – Ethyl Methacrylate

    MMA – Methyl Methacrylate.

    • The CIR (Cosmetic Review Board) has tested the more commonly used EMA liquid and found it “safe enough to be used by the consumer” but recommend it to be used by trained professionals. (7/99)
    • The NMC (Nail Manufacturers Council) and the ABA (American Beauty Council) have also “taken the position that MMA should not be used in nail products”. (9/7/01)
    • The FDA, as far back as early 1970′s, has stated, and still states, that MMA is a poisonous and deleterious substance and should not be used in liquid acrylic monomer for nail products. 3/2000
        • MMA is a very hard substance when cured (dry). Removal and maintenance of a MMA enhancement usually involves the use of a drill (electric file or e-file as we call it). E-files, when used by a technician who has been fully trained, are not dangerous or harmful to the natural nail plate. However, many who use this tool are untrained and have been known to cause pain and excessive damage to the nail plate – rings of fire – by drilling into the nail plate, sometimes THROUGH the nail plate into the nail bed (sometimes this causes permanent damage).
        • When a nail enhancement of MMA is banged or knocked, it has little to no flexibility and will break severely, often taking the nail plate with it. EMA is formulated to be flexible, the enhancement will break or crack, sometimes the nail will break off, but will not usually damage the nail plate.
        • MMA does not soak off easily or in a reasonable length of time, causing undue exposure to acetone while soaking. Most Non-Standard salons (NSS*) will simply RIP the nails off or pry them off causing extreme damage to the natural nail plate. If a weakened nail plate or damaged nail plate is already present, (normal is when MMA is used) the exposure problems while soaking off MMA become a larger concern, not to mention the ill effects and pain of ripping off the enhancements. EMA should take about 20 minutes or less to soak off, while MMA will take two or more hours to remove by soaking in acetone.
        • To make MMA adhere well to the nail, overly rough preparation methods are used. The nail plate is “roughed up” with a coarse file or an electric file, creating in effect, a shag carpet look to the nail plate, giving the MMA something to adhere to. This process thins and weakens the nail plate allowing more chemicals to be absorbed through the weakened nail plate during application and curing time. All acrylic enhancements, while hard enough to file in 1-4 minutes, continue to cure for as long as 36-48 hours after application.


      Warning signs of MMA use:

      •  MMA has an unusually strong or strange odor which doesn’t smell like other acrylic liquids. Odor is present during application and when filing cured product (for fill-ins or repairs).
      • Enhancements which are extremely hard and very difficult to file even with coarse abrasives.
      • Enhancements that will not soak off in solvents designed to remove acrylics.
      • Cloudy or milky color when cured.

      Additional warning signs though less definitive:

      • Low price of fills and full sets (MMA cost 1/3 of EMA)


      • Dust or ventilation masks used (many technicians use dust masks today who do not use MMA)
      • Unlabeled containers – technician will not show or tell the client what brand of product is being used

      MMA is present in almost every acrylic polymer (powder) on the market. This is entirely acceptable. Only MMA in it’s liquid form is dangerous. Nail glues, wraps, and gels also have a small amount of solid PMMA, this is also acceptable in this chemical state.

What is the difference between Acrylic and Gel?

I get asked this question.  A lot.  And it seems that there is tons of confusion amongst all of you.  Let’s face it, there’s a lot of product out there and it can be overwhelming for a someone that has never had their nails done.  Most of you know that you would like acrylic or gel nails, or at least you have heard of them and have an idea as to which you would like base on what your friends have.   But, there are those discount nail shops out there that offer you gel or acrylic, but the reality is they only do acrylic and tell you it’s gel.  What they might have is a mystery tub that is labeled “Gel” but really it’s not.  Or, they will put some sort of UV top coat on at the end and tell you that what you have is gel and charge you more.  Sigh…  In case you were wondering, I only offer Gel Nails at the salon.  And it is true gel, no substitutions here folks.  So, to help put an end to all the nonsense, Nail blogger Maggie Franklin has explained the differences between the two in simple, black and white terms.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Now, with much thanks to Maggie, here’s her words…


Them Ain’t Gel Nails

There are few things that come across my desk (metaphorically AND literally) that make me wish I could afford a multimillion dollar national advertising campaign to tell everyone the TRUTH. If only there was some way to get the word out….Oh yeah… I have the INTERNET! 

My little blog may not always be that interesting, and it may not get all the attention it deserves, but I get enough public and private comments on some of the entries to know that at least a few folks read it. Hopefully those few folks will advise a few more folks to read it, and so on and so on until enough people get the information that I can rest assured that all is right with the world once more.

People, I hate to break it to you, but GEL nails are done with GEL. Gel, as in gelatinous, as in jelly. It’s called “gel” because it’s a GEL.

Gel nails are absolutely, positively NOT made with liquid and powder.

There are some products out there that call themselves “gel” that do not use a UV lamp. These are made with cyanoacrylate resin– same stuff as Crazy Glue– and I guess the resin IS sort of a gel, so calling them “gel” isn’t really wrong.

And you can add powder to gels. Like, sprinkling on a little acrylic powder for added strength. It’s arguable as to how effective this is, but some folks feel like it makes a difference.

But gel nails are NOT made by dipping a brush into a liquid and then into a powder like acrylic. This is acrylic. The liquid is called “monomer” and the powder is called “polymer,” when you mix the two together you create a polymer resin that is applied directly to the nail where it hardens (“cures” is the proper term) into a hard plastic polymer. Voila! Acrylic.

Gel nails are created by brushing an oligimer directly over the nail and then exposing the gel to Ultra Violet light, which reacts with a photoinitiator in the oligimer (gel) which starts the chemical reaction to cure the gel.

Gels come in a bunch of different viscosities (thicknesses) and there are few different chemical compositions of gels on the market as well as different systems by different manufacturers who have different directions for applying their products. So although one salon may use a gel that is squeezed out of a tube, while another salon uses a gel that is in a little pot, and one salon may use the same gel for every layer while another salon has three different gels for three different layers… the main thing to know is that GEL IS NOT A POWDER!

It is true, I know of at least one company that produces a product that they call “powder gel.” Sorry, no such thing. Powder is not a gel. Gel is called gel because it’s a gel.

There is such a thing as a light cured acrylic. Liquid and powder that are combined like acrylic, but use a photoinitiator as a catalyst, instead of BPO (Benzoil Peroxide) in the powder, like a traditional acrylic.

I know I know I know! It gets SO confusing! That’s why it’s been SO EASY for salons all over the world to rip their clients off by claiming to be offering a premium service such as gels when they are really just plopping down the same old acrylic and charging you double!

And if you think YOU have been getting ripped off just because you never took Organic Chemistry don’t feel too bad just yet! Most nail technicians never took Organic Chemistry either! Most of us have NO CLUE about the chemistry behind our products! And even the top notch gals I hob-nob with in the industry can get overwhelmed when we start talking science. Especially when there’s SO MUCH of it to try to understand!

And here we are, trying to cram a doctorate degree’s worth of chemistry into our heads while also making room for physics and microbiology! And we’re trying to do it all within the 2 weeks we have before our client shows up for her next appointment so we can answer all the question she has about her nails!

Meanwhile, not only are we trying to understand the basic science of what most people consider an artistic field, but we also have to sift out the difference between what is fact, vs what is marketing from product manufacturers who want us to use their products.


It’s enough to make ya want to just work at Starbucks… except Starbucks won’t let you have your nails done.

I just wanted you to know what gel really is. How to determine if you are getting what you are paying for, because it seems that a lot of salons out there are charging extra for something they aren’t doing!

Oh yeah, and gel nails are done with gel. All gel. You can brush the gel on over a plastic tip, or you can scultp gel onto the nail with a form, but the entire nail is made of gel. Some gels are thick and can be sculpted on all at once, many gels are thinner and work better if they are built up layer after layer… but all the layers are done with gel. Not an acrylic nail with a gel topcoat.

Gels come in a bunch of colors, like polish. They can be done in pink and white, all clear, colors, or even mixed up with glitters for Rockstar.

Gels are still a premium service in the United States. Many schools don’t teach gel techniques and most state boards don’t require it on their practical exams.

Gels require a very different technique than acrylic for application. It seems like it would be as easy as polishing the nail, but it’s really not. I found that out the hard way myself!

Also, gel products are, on average, 3 times more expensive than acrylic products. So yeah, they cost more, if you find a salon that doesn’t charge more for gel, tip your nail tech a little extra– cuz she’s short changing herself.


Ah, duck feet, or flare nails…  where did we go wrong??  For the record, these are not nails that I have done, or will ever do.  However, they have become this new, crazy trend that many of us are very opinionated about.  And for good reason.


duck feet

This new style creates a wide broad nail tip that is sometimes wider than the nail bed itself. The result is a sort of triangular shape similar to that of, well… of a duck’s webbed feet.

We are still trying to figure out where exactly this trend began, though many seem to be pointing their doublewide digits toward shows like Jerseylicious. To us, the duck feet nail looks like the next step up from the ultra-long square shaped nails which, like it or not, have an unfortunate association with back alley beauty salons and strip clubs.

The attraction to the duck feet nails seems to have less to do with the shape itself and more to do with the size of the actual nail. The exaggerated amount of surface area is a nail artist’s dream, with ample space for 3D bows, rhinestones, glitter, hand-painted designs, and photo decals—and that’s all on one nail! The wide tip is achieved by fitting the nail with an acrylic tip several sizes up and filing the sides down slanted. Popular variations of the style are moon-shaped, which curve in at the tip, or crown-shaped nails that have two curves, and are the truest shape to a duck’s foot.

Duck feet nails leave us wondering how anyone functions in them. Just the idea of trying to type or put on rings already has us frustrated, but if you’re sick of accidentally sticking yourself with your ultra-pointy but still on trend stiletto manicure, duck feet nails may be just the thing for you! So, nail art enthusiasts, we’re asking you—have you found yourself flocking to duck feet nails, or is this a trend for the birds?