An Update from Doug Schoon – UV Lamps are SAFE!!!!

Thanks to good old Dr. Oz and various other TV shows, magazine articles and just overall bad press, UV lamps for gel nails have gotten a very bad rep in the last year.  But, we have stood behind our lamps, knowing that they are safe for you, the loyal, nail-loving client.  And, now we have proof – yes, PROOF! – from the industry guru himself, Doug Schoon.

Here is his study on the safety of various lamps and what he has proven to be safe.  Please take the few minutes to read this, I know it’s a little long, but it’s well worth the read to educate not only yourself but your friends too.

  • Not only does this study provide strong evidence that UV nail lamps are safe as used in nail salons, the researchers found the UV nail lamps were even safer than they expected!!!

                                                                                                                                 “UV Nail Lamps Tested and Found Safe by Two Leading UV Experts”

Dr. John Dowdy and Dr. Robert Sayre By Doug Schoon


July, 2013 – A comprehensive scientific study concerning the safety of UV nail units (aka UV nail lamps) has just been published and it is VERY important for several reasons:

  1. This is the first study to compare six major brands of UV nail units, including three that use UV producing LEDs as the UV source.
  2. It is also the first study to adhere to the official internationally accepted standard for UV source testing (ANSI RP-27) which is determined to the superior method for evaluating UV nail units.
  3. This independent study was performed by two world leading UV/Skin researchers Dr. John Dowdy and Dr. Robert Sayre. Dr. Sayre is the inventor of the SPF rating system for sun screens and both are considered world-class experts and scientific leaders in the field of research related to UV and skin exposure.
  4. The results demonstrate the safety of a wide range of top selling UV nail units (lamps) and show they are well within accepted safe levels.

    Analysis and Quotations:

  • This study is superior to any previously performed testing on UV curing nail units, because it follows the correct scientific protocols and uses the proper testing equipment necessary to comprehensively evaluate the safety of UV nail lamps. Very few will read this highly technical paper (see link below), so I’ve provided my analysis and commentary, along with pertinent quotations from the study. To be clear, only the italicized texts in quotation are found in the Dowdy/Sayer paper and everything else is my commentary about the reported results from this important study.
  • Not only does this study provide strong evidence that that UV nail lamps are safe as used in nail salons, the researchers found the UV nail lamps were even safer than they expected, “All of the various UV nail lamps submitted for evaluation were found to be significantly less hazardous than might have been anticipated based on the initial concerns raised…”
  • The paper cited important research demonstrating the natural nail plate is a very efficient blocker of UV, protecting the nail bed, “… the UV exposure risks to the nail bed is comparable to that of skin protected by high SPF topical sunscreen.” Research studies indicate the nail plate’s natural UV resistance is comparable to the UV resistance provided by an SPF 40 sunscreen.
  • Also cited was additional research to demonstrate that the backside of the hand is 4 times more resistant to UV than the forehead or cheek. It is 3 1/2 times more resistant than the a person’s back, making the backside of the hand THE most UV resistant part of the body, “The dorsum [backside] of the hand is the most UV acclimatized, photo adapted, and UV-resistant body site.”
  • The study provided conclusive evidence to demonstrate that UV nail lamps are NOT like tanning beds, “When UV nail lamps evaluated in this report are compared together with these earlier sunlamp computations, we find that the UV nail lamps are vastly less hazardous”.
  • Because the measured UV exposure was so low, a person could go to their workplace and once every day put their hand under a UV nail lamp for 25 minutes and this would STILL be within the “permissible daily occupational exposure limits” for workers, according to the applicable international standard (ANSI RP-27). Obviously, salon client exposure is much, much lower and just a tiny fraction in comparison and it must be consider also that client exposure is only twice per month. This scientific paper provides powerful evidence to further support the safety of UV nail lamps; either traditional tube or LED-style.
  • This study also demonstrates that risks for development of non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) are very low when compared to normal noon sunlight. Of the types of UV that can cause NMSC, this study found that UV nail lamp expose skin to somewhere between 11-46 times less NMSC related exposure expected from spending equal time in natural noon sun light, “…the UV nail lamps had 11-46 times less NMSC effective irradiance than an overhead 1 atmosphere solar spectrum [normal noon sunlight].”
  • These researchers put things into perspective when they concluded that it is very unlikely that anyone could become overexposed to UV through normal use of the nail lamps tested since they considered it, “…highly improbable that even the most dedicated nail salon client or avid home user would approach this level of exposure.”
  • The researchers noted this “Notwithstanding the comparatively trivial UV risks associated with UV nail lamps there are some reasonable and potentially serious concerns involving these devices that should be discussed.” Special care should be taken in cases where potential users are taking medications that increase UV sensitivity. These individual have been, “… advised against venturing into natural sunlight without proper protection and should be cautious about using UV nail lamps.” Of course, that is sensible advice that should be heeded!
  • What was the MOST significant risk these scientists identified? Concern that the incorrect replacement lamp/bulb may be inserted into the UV nail unit, e.g. those emitting UV-B or UV-C could be harmful to the skin if accidently inserted. Also, the incorrect lamp/bulb can lead to improper curing of the UV gel. For several reasons, it is VERY important that UV lamps/bulbs are replaced with the exactly the same UV lamp/bulb that was supplied with the UV nail unit when it was purchased. In other words, use ONLY the UV nail unit manufacturer’s recommended original equipment (OEM) lamp/bulb replacement.
  • When sharing his opinions based on this nail lamps testing Dr. Sayre has said that some, “Physicians are grossly exaggerating exposures.” And of UV nail lamps he says, “…this UV source probably belongs in the least risky of all categories.” And, “UV nail lamps are safer than natural sunlight or sunlamps.”

    I wholeheartedly agree with these statements and the results of this study. There are several other studies also demonstrating the safety of UV nail lamps. Now this information needs to get into the hands of physicians so they can make proper recommendations based on science, not misinformation. The same goes for the media news outlets. You can do your part, by sharing this Educational Update with everyone you know, including your clients. If you see unfair misinformation being propagated, please share this information. The Dowdy/Sayre study should convince any reasonable person about the safety of UV nail lamps.

    If you’re curious and want to learn more about UV nail lamps, go to my website “”. There you can view free webinars, articles, safety-related brochures, links to other UV nail unit (lamp) studies, and other recent Education Updates about both types of UV nail lamps, traditional and LED.

    Dr. Dowdy and Sayre’s full text scientific paper is available (and worth readying) from this link to the publisher’s website

    Dowdy, J. C. and Sayre, R. M. (2013), Photobiological Safety Evaluation of UV Nail Lamps. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 89: 961–967. doi: 10.1111/php.12075



Weighing Down on Beauty

This story happens more often than not – a customer goes into a nail salon asking for gel nails and comes out with “gel nails”.  This usually means acrylic nails that have a gel top coat of some kind and the client has been charged top dollar for this “premium” service.

This gal received one of those nail jobs, and she fought back.  I love it!  So, if any of you out there do go to a nail place like this one, please make sure you are getting what you actually ask for and pay for.  I’ve said it before a million times.  Gel nails use gel, and just like the name implies, it is a gel.  And it cures under a UV lamp that your whole hand fits comfortably in, not under a desk light.  Acrylic nails are a liquid and powder mixed together.  There’s nothing wrong with either product, but if you ask for gel and they pull out a powder, that’s not what they’re selling you. And, make sure your product is in properly labeled, brand containers.  If the product is in some no name, random jar that happens to have a label-maker label on it, walk away folks.

Pink Bling


This story happend to a fellow MUG, AmethystBeautyVA and she shared her story with us all here about a trip she took to treat herself to a salon to get gel nails. She got scammed on something that no one has really ever thought about. Here is her story:

Ok…as a treat to myself on my 1/2 Birthday today, I decided to go to a highly-raved salon to get gel overlays.

What I received makes me wonder if I was scammed and I’m reaching out to fellow MUGs for advice & opinions.

The salon owner did my nails and this is what she did and/or had me do:

1. Trimmed my nails to my desired length.

2. Used a coarse nail file to rough-up the nail beds.

3. Grabbed one of many identical brushes from a holder which was attached to her swing lamp.

4. Placed the brush into a small bowl of clear liquid to soak for a few moments.

5. Applied an odorless product from a brown glass bottle using the attached wand ala nail polish application. This product dried to a very matte finish.

6. Grabbed a small container of a very finely-milled white powder.

7. Repeatedly dipped the “soaked” brush into the powder and applied the mixture to my nails. When one hand was done, she had me hold it very close to the lightbulb of her swing lamp while she did my other hand.

8. Used a rotary file to smooth things out and taper the edges.

9. She did French tips using regular white nail polish and then she had me hold my hands near the lightbulb again for a few minutes.

10. She then applied a “Mirror Glaze UV Topcoat” and had me do a total of 6 minutes under a UV lamp.

When I asked her about the powder-to-gel she stated that it lasts longer than the liquid gel which requires several layers. She also told me that it would last 3-4 weeks.

I’ve had two people tell me that I received a set of “glorified” acrylic nails disguised as gel nails. After watching a few videos on YouTube, I’m beginning to agree with them! ALL the vids that I’ve watched CLEARLY show a clear gel substance being applied to the nail in thin layers with “cooking” time under the UV lamp between layers.

I’m irked that I was scammed and seriously considering disputing the charge ($41!) to my credit card.

So…my questions are:
1. Does it sound like I was scammed? Gel nails ($40 + $1 French) vs. Acrylic ($20 + $1 French).

2. Should I dispute the charge with my credit card company?

I didn’t leave a tip because she had stepped away while my nails were doing the 6-minute-UV-bake thing and came back REEKING of cigarette smoke.

There were many relpies that stated, yes, it defiantly sounds like you were scammed, and some stated that this was on one of biggest nail salon scams going on. She then went on to give us this update.

It. Was. EPIC!

So, I stopped by the salon on my way home from the office this evening…owner was very surprised to see me back so soon. There were approx. 6 ladies waiting to be seen and 4 ladies already receiving services.

She asked if I was there to have some nail-art (we had briefly discussed nail art while she did my nails yesterday) and I calmly replied “No, I’m here to request a full refund because I asked for gel nails and what you gave me was standard acrylic nails with a UV gel topcoat which certainly isn’t worth $20 when the bottle sells for $8.00 at the beauty supply store.”

She replied that she’s been doing powder-to-gel nails for 10 years and she “NEVER” gives a refund…EVER!

I then went on to say “There is absolutely no such thing as powder-to-gel nails but there IS such a thing as acrylics with a UV gel topcoat being passed off as gel nails and it happens to be the #1 nail salon scam in the country! Last night I contacted several friends in other states who have gel nails (my fellow MUGS, of course!) and I even went to YouTube & Google to do a search for “gel nails” and “gel nail scams” and EVERY video or article about the gel nail scam was IDENTICAL to what you did to my nails yesterday. Today I contacted two cosmetology schools and they confirmed that there is no such thing as powder-to-gel nails. The directors at each school advised me to contact Virginia’s licensing board for more information about filing a complaint and that’s what I did this afternoon. You committed fraud by telling me that I was getting gel nails and that’s why I’m asking for a full refund.”

O.M.G. I thought she was going to have a seizure right then and there!

She vehemently stated again that she doesn’t offer refunds and that I don’t know what I’m talking about! At this point, one of her techs came running over with a jar that had a home-made computer label that said “Gel Powder” and the tech kept saying “See…gel powder! Gel powder! You wrong! We right!”

I sighed and said, “Ok. When I called Virginia’s licensing board I was given directions on how to download this complaint form (at this point I took the form out of my purse and held it up which clearly showed that I had already filled in the salon name, address, etc.) and submit it for an investigation. You’ve stated twice that you don’t give refunds, so I have absolutely no choice but to file a dispute with my credit card company (which I had already done, btw) and submit this complaint form to the licensing board. I also have absolutely no qualms about contacting each of the three local TV stations because I have a very good working relationship with several of the reporters and newsroom directors at each station, so I have no doubt that one of the stations would be interested in doing an “investigative report” regarding this little scam you’re pulling on unsuspecting clients.”

She stood up.

She sat down.

We stared at each other in a stalemate for a few moments.

She then told me she’d give me a refund after she removed my “gel acrylics” and to have a seat and wait in line. I told her that my time was just as valuable as hers and given that I had already spent over an hour in her salon yesterday, I preferred to sit at an empty station and soak my nails while her staff continued to take care of the other ladies who were already waiting. (One of my local friends recommended that I stick to my guns on this aspect since all they’d be doing is having me sit at an empty station anyhow with my hands in a bowl of heated acetone.)

She stood up and looked at me as if I had two heads. I smiled at back at her and said “I think I’ve given a fair solution that will satisfy both of us AND allow you to take care of these ladies at the same time. It’s called multi-tasking.”

She sighed, said a bunch of stuff very quickly in Korean and pointed to an empty station.

I said “Great! But first, let’s process my full refund so that when one of your techs has finished removing these nails, I can leave straight away and we won’t ever have to speak to each other again.”

She processed my refund right then and there, all the while saying a lot of stuff very quickly in Korean (I’m certain she cussed me out during all that talking).

She took a cigarette break and while she was outside, one of the ladies who had been waiting asked me if what I had said was all true. I said, “Absolutely! If you have internet access on your cellphone you can google it and find out for yourself.”

In the mirror I could see her typing on her iPhone and a few minutes later she and her friend crossed their names off the list and left.

It took almost 40 minutes, but I have my nekkid nails again and I’ve slathered my hands in olive oil. Typing with gloves on at the moment is lots o’ fun, btw!

Yes, I’m still going to file a complaint with the state because if I don’t, this salon will continue to scam people.

Wow..I am so glad she stuck to her guns! I wanted to share this story with everyone because I would hate for this happend to anyone! Not very many people know what actual gel nails look like nor are that educated in the nail salon world. If a nail tech tells me me…’s gel a to powder manicure..I most likely wouldn’t think twice about and end up paying twice as much for it!

My Interview with Salon Magazine!

Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time to get started on your Contessa entry! In light of the rules changes to the Contessa Canadian Nail Artist category (formerly known as Nail Enhancement Artist), Robyn Schwartz of Polished + Pampered Hair and Esthetics in Grand Forks, BC, the Contessa 24 winner in this category, shares her secrets for putting together a nail collection that will wow the judges.


2013_NA_R_Schwartz_01.ajpg copy

Salon Magazine: What are some important factors when selecting a photographer?

Robyn Schwartz: The first thing I look at is their portfolio—can they capture the style and type of photo you’re looking for? For me, I want a look that is a more professional, editorial photo. Also, check out the cost, shoot location and accessibility—are they willing to come to you? For a Contessa collection, it’s pretty hard to get all the photos done in one day, so keep in mind that they will need to be available for two or three sessions.

SM: Can you share some tips on finding a hand model?

RS: Finding a hand model is not the easiest thing. I look for the perfect hand: a longer nail bed that’s not too skinny or too large, slender fingers and young hands. I do stay away from short, stubby or damaged nails rough skin and cuticles, short fingers and hands that are too boney. And, models need to be flexible because from start to finish—most shoots take an entire day.

SM: Since any artistic or enhancement technique is acceptable, can you suggest ways to create a strong theme in a nail collection?

RS: Theme is a major part of your collection. I make sure that each photo, from the actual nail to the props and the finished look of the photo works with one another. Colour, texture, style and even hand placement all play into your overall look.

SM: Fashion appeal is one of the components the judges will assess. How can nail technicians translate what’s on the runway to an outstanding nail design?

RS: This is a hard question to answer—what one person considers fashionable may not be the same to to someone else, which makes it hard to base an entry on fashion alone. I base my entries on what I know I would like to see and do with the nails. I do like to stay modern with the styles and colours, but I don’t necessarily base them on current fashion.

Putting together a collection is something I love to do. We get to showcase nails that we don’t normally get to do on a daily basis, ones that truly showcase our artistic ability. It’s also a great way to allow my clients to get to see the competition nails. That way, when they see the designs, they can pull elements they like into their everyday nails without being impractical.

Nails: Robyn Schwartz, Photo: Laura Wilby

Nail Diseases and Disorders

Okay, I know.  This is a very serious and kinda gross topic.  But this is all very good info to know, especially if we happen to have a strange looking nail and we really don’t know what’s happening.

Our bodies host a variety of microorganisms, some of which are beneficial to us.  These microorganisms also include bacteria and fungi.  Fungal infections are caused by microscopic plants that live on our skin and on the dead tissue of our hair and nails.  The following list contains the more common nail irregularities, diseases and disorders.  For information on nail problems not listed here, please refer to the links at the bottom of this page.

Please be aware that Nail Technicians are only licensed to beautify the hands, and not to diagnose or treat nail diseases and disorders.  Please seek the advice of your physician or dermatologist for a proper diagnosis and medical treatment.

Paronychia infections of the nail fold can be caused by bacteria, fungi and some viruses. The proximal and lateral nail folds act as a barrier, or seal, between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue.  If a tear or a break occurs in this seal, the bacterium can easily enter.  this type of infection is characterized by pain, redness and swelling of the nail folds.  People who have their hands in water for extended periods may develop this condition, and it is highly contagious.



Pseudomonas bacterial infection can occur between the natural nail plate and the nail bed, and/or between an artificial nail coating and the natural nail plate.  Many people have been led to believe that the classic ‘green’ discoloration of this type of infection is some type of mold.  In actuality, mold is not a human pathogen.  The discoloration is simply a by-product of the infection and is caused primarily by iron compounds. Pseudomonas thrive in moist places; it feeds off the dead tissue and bacteria in the nail plate, while the moisture levels allow it to grow.  The after effects of this infection will cause the nail plate to darken and soften underneath an artificial coating.  The darker the discoloration, the deeper into the nail plate layers the bacteria has traveled.  If the bacteria has entered between the nail plate and the nail bed, it will cause the same discolorations and may also cause the nail plate to lift from the nail bed.




fungal or yeast infection which results in Onychomycosis, can  invade through a tear in the proximal and lateral nail folds as well as the eponychium.  This type of infection is characterized by onycholysis (nail plate separation) with evident debris under the nail plate.  It normally appears white or yellowish in color, and may also change the texture and shape of the nail.  The fungus digests the keratin protein of which the nail plate is comprised.  As the infection progresses, organic debris accumulates under the nail plate often discoloring it.  Other infectious organisms may be involved, and if left untreated, the nail plate may separate from the nail bed and crumble off.



Tinea Unguis, or ringworm of the nails, is characterized by nail thickening, deformity, and eventually results in nail plate loss.



Onychatrophia is an atrophy or wasting away of the nail plate which causes it to lose its luster, become smaller and sometimes shed entirely.  Injury or disease may account for this irregularity.



Onychogryposis are claw-type nails that are characterized by a thickened nail plate and are often the result of trauma.  This type of nail plate will curve inward, pinching the nail bed and sometimes require surgical intervention to relieve the pain.



Onychorrhexis are brittle nails which often split vertically, peel and/or have vertical ridges.  This irregularity can be the result of heredity, the use of strong solvents in the workplace or the home, including household cleaning solutions.  Although oil or paraffin treatments will re-hydrate the nail plate, one may wish to confer with a physician to rule out disease.



Onychauxis is evidenced by over-thickening of the nail plate and may be the result of internal disorders — seek medical advice.



Leuconychia is evident as white lines or spots in the nail plate and may be caused by tiny bubbles of air that are trapped in the nail plate layers due to trauma.  This condition may be hereditary and no treatment is required as the spots will grow out with the nail plate.



Beau’s Lines are nails that are characterized by horizontal lines of darkened cells and linear depressions.  This disorder may be caused by trauma, illness, malnutrition or any major metabolic condition, chemotherapy or other damaging event, and is the result of any interruption in the protein formation of the nail plate. Seek a physicians diagnosis.



Koilonychia is usually caused through iron deficiency anemia.  these nails show raised ridges and are thin and concave.  Seek a physicians advice and treatment.



Melanonychia are vertical pigmented bands, often described as nail ‘moles’, which usually form in the nail matrix.  Seek a physicians care should you suddenly see this change in the nail plate.  It could signify a malignant melanoma or lesion.  Dark streaks may be a normal occurrence in dark-skinned individuals, and are fairly common.



Psoriasis of the nails is characterized by raw, scaly skin and is sometimes confused with eczema.  When it attacks the nail plate, it will leave it pitted, dry, and it will often crumble.  The plate may separate from the nail bed and may also appear red, orange or brown, with red spots in the lunula.  Do not attempt salon treatments on a client with Nail Psoriasis. Consult with a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment.



MMA Damaged Nails:  D. Tuggle, owner of The Nail Academy, Jamaica, Queens, N.Y., submitted this picture of nails damaged by MMA to the BeautyTech Web Site and allowed it to be added to this page.  MMA (methyl methacrylate) is a liquid monomer used for acrylic nails by some unscrupulous salons even though it is considered by and prohibited by the FDA to be a poisonous and deleterious substance.  According to Dianna Bonn of Indiana, as of May 1, 1999, 23 states have banned this chemical from being used in nail salons.  MMA nails are very rigid and do not bend or have the flexibility to break.  When MMA does finally break, it will break the natural nail with it, causing severe nail damage.



Vertical Ridges are also characteristic of aging, although are not limited to the aged or elderly.  The nail plate grows forward on the nail bed in a ‘rail and groove’ effect, much like a train rides on its’ tracks.  As we age, the natural oil and moisture levels decline in the nail plate, and this rail and groove effect becomes apparent.  Ridged nails will improve through re-hydration of the nail plate with twice daily applications of a good quality nail and cuticle oil containing Jojoba and Vitamin E.



The aforementioned nail irregularities are among those I have been witness to during my years in the salon.  There are others that only a trained dermatologist will be able to diagnose and treat.  Some are contagious, and some are the result of injury or illness.  Physicians will sometimes examine your fingernails because many diseases will appear as various changes in the nail plate.  Any change in the nail plate could be cause for concern, whether it is a simple splinter hemorrhage that appears as a tiny black line in the nail plate, or a drastic change.  Nail technicians are trained to beautify the hands/feet and are not allowed to diagnose nail diseases or to treat them in the salon.  For your nail health, seek the diagnosis and recommendation of a knowledgeable dermatologist.

10 Nail Myths – Put to Rest

I LOVE Doug Schoon.  Doug Schoon is an internationally-recognized scientist, author and educator with over 30 years experience in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry. He is a leading industry authority, known for his technical and regulatory work that has helped shape the beauty industry.  He always has our back when it comes to crazy, nail-related issues that pop in the media and magazines.  Now, here he is again, ready to dispel the top 10 nail related myths.  It’s a bit long, but well worth the read.





“Ten Top Myths Related to Artificial Nails” by Doug Schoon

Myth 1: Nails Need to Breath.

  • No, they don’t! There is no reason to believe that nails need to “breathe”. Nails aren’t alive and don’t have lungs nor do they have any ability to absorb air into the nail plate. This myth makes no sense on many levels! In short, nails do NOT require an external air supply and do not breathe or exhale. 100% of the oxygen needed by the nail matrix to create a new nail plate comes from the blood stream and 0% comes from the outside world.
  • Everything the nail plate needs to properly grow and function is delivered and/or removed by the blood flow to the matrix area and nail bed. The matrix is where the nail plate is created from nutrients which can ONLY be delivered by the blood stream. Neither “air” nor “nutrients” can be absorbed or “fed” to the nail plate from any external source.
  • Moisture and natural nail oils leave the nail bed and pass through the nail plate at slower than normal rates, but they aren’t “trapped”. The nail plate’s moisture content is increased by 10-15%, and the oil content increases only slightly; both serves to increase the flexibility of the natural nail plate.
  • Waste products are removed from the matrix area and surrounding tissues by the blood as well, and are not released into the nail plate. Normal, healthy nail plates would continue to grow and thrive in a completely air-free environment, as long as a healthy flow of blood to the nail is maintained, so clearly… nails don’t need to breathe!
  • Myth 2: Nails need to take a break from enhancements.
    • Not true! Nothing is gained by removing artificial nail enhancements or coatings for a few weeks or months before reapplying them. Since the nails do not need to “breathe”, no benefit is gained by waiting to reapply artificial nail enhancements or coatings, which includes nail polish. Nor does it make sense to assume the nails only need to breathe “every once-in-a-while”. This faulty reasoning is not supported by the facts.
    • However as a general rule if the nail plate or surrounding skin shows signs of moderate to serious damage, injury, infection or adverse skin reactions, nail enhancements should be not be applied. Why? In most countries, including the US, nail technicians are only permitted to provide cosmetic services on healthy skin and nails. Unhealthy nail conditions are “medical conditions” which should be examined by a doctor (or podiatrist) who can provide a proper diagnosis and treatment, if required. Nail technicians are not licensed to practice medicine. In cases of adverse skin reactions, discontinue use until the client’s doctor can be consulted as to the actual causes and possible solutions.

Myth 3: UV gels are better for your nails than acrylics.

  • Absolutely false! Every type of UV gel nails and all types of so-called “acrylics” (aka liquid/powder) nail enhancements are made from acrylic ingredients and are cured by acrylic chemistry, therefore both of these types of nail enhancement coatings are just as “acrylic” as the other, regardless of how they are marketed. Other than marketing claims and application procedures, the only real differences between these two types of systems are in the way they harden (polymerize).
  • UV gels utilize a UV sensitive curing agent to harden the nail coating, while liquid/powder systems use heat sensitive curing agents to achieve the same end result. A UV sensitive curing agent could be placed into a liquid/powder system and cured via UV nail lamps and the reverse is also true; a heat sensitive curing agent could be placed into a UV gel and these could be cured without UV. Of course, neither of these makes sense for salon products, which is why this isn’t done, but the point remains… these two types of systems are very similar and one is NOT any better for the nail or safer than the other. This is because “both” UV gels and liquid/powder systems are safe when used per manufacturer instructions and “neither” will harm the natural nail when properly applied, maintained and removed by trained professionals.
  • Remember, wearing any type of enhancement or coating can lead to nail damage IF the nail technician improperly applies the nail coating or if they (or their clients) improperly remove them. Nail enhancement and other nail coating products are safe for the natural nail if properly applied, maintained and removed. No type of artificial nail is safer or better for the natural nail than another. If nail damage occurs while wearing enhancements, this is usually a result of over-filing or other improper application or removal procedures. To prevent this, nail professionals should educate themselves about how to work in a manner that protects the natural nail from damage.

    Myth 4: Nail coatings are bad for the nails.

  • This is NOT correct. Nail coatings don’t harm the nail plate and any nail damage is usually a result of improper application and/or removal. If the nail plate underneath the enhancement is much thinner than the area of new nail growth, this strongly indicates excessive filing with a manual or electric file. Overly aggressive filing causes the majority of nail plate damage seen in salons. This isn’t done just in discount salons, it happens even in high end salons and is indicative of an improperly trained nail professional.
  • If upon removal the plates are not any thinner, but feel like they are overly flexible, this does NOT indicate the nails are “weaker”. Instead, this is a temporary effect created by an increased moisture content of the nail plate. Nail coatings increase the moisture content of the plate by 10-15% and this can last up to 12-24 hours after coating removal; after

which the moisture content returns to normal, as will the nail plate’s normal level of


  • When the nail surface is covered with dry looking white patches, this is usually due to

    improper removal, e.g. scraping or peeling nail coatings from the nail plate. Soaking the natural nail for even a few minutes in acetone or water will temporarily soften the surface making it temporarily more susceptible to damage from wooden or metal implements that pry, push or force the remaining residual nail coatings from the nail plate. Instead, a good rule to follow is, “Use the utmost care for 60 minutes after immersing natural nails in any liquid for more than 60 seconds.”

  • Other damage, e.g. onycholysis, is also usually caused by improper filing or removal techniques. For more information on avoiding nail damage see, “Don’t Let This Happen to Your Clients”,
  • Infections do occur, but they are relatively uncommon and can be easily avoided by practicing proper cleaning and disinfection. For more information see “Guidelines for Cleaning Manicuring Equipment”,
  • The facts are, when artificial enhancements or coatings are carefully and properly applied, maintained, and removed by a trained, skilled, and knowledgeable nail professional- they will not cause nail damage! The vast majority of damaged nail plates are caused by improper use- over filing and/or scraping the nail plate to remove products or by client nail abuse, e.g. picking or prying off nail coatings.

    Myth 5- Medications cause artificial nails to lose adhesion and lift.

    • In general, taking a medication for a month or two isn’t going to affect adhesion of artificial nails or coatings to the nail plates. The same is true for birth control or other over-the- counter (OTC) medications. These aren’t likely to adversely affect the nail plate, either. Generally when people are taking medications over a long term, it is because their body isn’t functioning normally. It is more likely that their illness is what’s affecting the nails, not the medication. The health of the natural nail is often a window into the health of the individual.
    • Chemotherapy is often given for long periods and is an example of medications that can adversely affect the natural nail and may contribute to adhesion loss. OTC medicines and other types of medications taken for short periods (e.g. antibiotics) are unlikely to cause adhesion loss.
    • Anesthetic given during surgery is sometimes blamed for nail problems. Since many people are leery of medication of any type, they jump to this conclusion quickly. Even so, it is FAR more likely that nail growth would be affected by the accident/illness and/or the fact the body is in recovery from surgery.

• In short, nail techs should NOT suspect medications until all other potential sources of the problem have been investigated and ruled out. Medications are RARELY the cause of artificial nail adhesion loss. Keep in mind that these problems may also be caused by something the client is doing, e.g. a sudden lifestyle change.

Myth 6- Vitamins and nutrients absorb into the nail to make them stronger and healthier.

  • As described above, vitamins or nutrients can NOT be fed to the nail plate externally and in many countries it is not legal to make such claims. Vitamins and/or nutrients only make nail plates stronger or healthier when they are ingested in foods and delivered to the nail via the blood stream. In the US and other places, it is against the law for a cosmetic to claim to provide nutritional benefits or value. Only foods can provide nutrition to the body, not cosmetics!
  • To be clear, some nail oils use “vitamin E”, but its function is NOT for nutritional purposes or strengthening. The proper cosmetic label name for Vitamin E is “tocopherol”. Tocopherol or one of its related derivatives (e.g. tocopherol acetate) is used as an antioxidant to help protect the nail plate keratin from damage caused by environmental exposure (e.g. cleaners, hand washing, gardening). As long as no nutritional benefits are claimed, this is an appropriate cosmetic claim since there is strong science to support Vitamin E’s antioxidant abilities,

    Myth 7- Nail oil applied directly to a fresh nail enhancement will cause lifting.

• This is false, when the enhancement is properly applied; if not properly applied then this can be true. When properly applied, artificial nail coatings form a tight seal with the nail plate, therefore nail oils cannot get underneath the coating to cause separation and lifting. The benefit of these natural oils is that they can penetrate into the surface of the nail enhancement to increase the nail coating’s flexibility and durability. Penetrating nail oils should be applied daily, to keep the enhancement flexible and beautiful and to condition the surrounding living tissue. If the artificial nail enhancement was improperly applied, there may be small areas of pre-existing separation between the coating and the nail plate (delamination). When this occurs, nail oils may seep underneath the coating to cause lifting. Even so, there are clear and significant benefits to using nail oils on natural nails and artificial nail coatings. If their use leads to increased lifting of the enhancements, don’t discontinue use of the nail oil. Instead, carefully reexamine your techniques and ensure you are performing careful and proper nail preparation, including nail surface cleansing and properly applying and curing the nail enhancement or coating products.


Myth 8- MMA is dangerous and that is why it shouldn’t be used to make artificial nails.

  • This is false! Methyl methacrylate monomer (MMA) is used all around the world for dental prosthetics, contact lenses, and is even implanted into the body as a bone cement, so the effect of exposure to humans is well understood. MMA is NOT considered to be a cancer- causing agent nor does it damage unborn fetuses. These are myths! Even so, there are several reasons to avoid MMA monomer as a nail coating.
  • MMA nail products do not adhere well to the nail plate, so nail technicians must shred the surface of the nail plate with an abrasive, coarse grit file, causing thinning and weakening in order to ensure the enhancements adhere to the nail plate. Traditional products are designed to adhere to the natural nail plate without the need to over file the nail plate.
  • MMA creates the hardest and most rigid nail enhancements. So, they are very difficult to break. If jammed or caught, the overly filed and thinned natural nail plate is much more likely to break than the MMA enhancement. This can lead to serious nail damage and possible subsequent bacterial infection.
  • MMA enhancements are extremely difficult to remove, because of the filing techniques used to make them adhere and because they don’t easily dissolve in product removers. Therefore, MMA enhancements are usually pried from the nail plate, creating still more damage to the overly thinned nail plate.
  • The information above applies ONLY to MMA monomer. Powders containing MMA should really be called PMMA (poly methyl methacrylate). PMMA has completely different chemical structure/properties and is considered safe for use in artificial nails. PMMA in a sheet form is called PlexiglasTM and LuciteTM. For more factual information see “MMA Information”,

    Myth 9: You should wear a mask when you do nails.

    • False, if you are working with a source capture ventilation system (SCV); you don’t want or need to use a face mask. Even a high quality, properly fitting N-95 dust mask won’t work as well as a source capture ventilation system. Why? When properly fitted, an N-95 dust mask WILL protect against inhalation of tiny airborne dust particles, but NOT vapors. SCV systems prevent exposure by collecting both dusts and vapors- keeping both out of the nail technician’s breathing zone and salon air.
    • When properly maintained and the carbon filters are changed regularly, SCV systems are a great way to help ensure salon air quality remains safe and everyone is breathing comfortably during working hours. Several dust collecting systems are great too and in general, I do recommend their use in salons. Even so, dust collection systems should be used in conjunction with another ventilation system which lowers exposure to vapors. Both dusts and vapors must be properly controlled. SVC systems do both, which is why I fully support their use in salons.

Myth 10: Nail technicians don’t need to learn about the science behind natural and artificial nails.

• What? That’s ridiculous; the biggest myth of them all! The best artists know their paints and canvas, just as sculptors know their chisels and stones and a master woodworker could tell you all the intricacies of wood. Wouldn’t it benefit any nail technicians to have a deeper understanding of the natural nail and nail products? Understanding both the anatomy and microscopic structure of the nail plate is necessary for anyone who provides nail services. Image what you could do if you understood the science behind nail products and how they all work? Well, you can! It’s not hard, in fact it is easy and absolutely fascinating! Want to learn more? Here’s how you can start your journey of learning

Oh Dr. Oz. Whatever will we do with you?

I’m sure most of you have seen the episode of Dr. Oz where, once again, he bashed the nail industry.  Let me say, I am getting sooooo tired of a few bad techs ruining it for all of us.  Yes, it is unfortunate that there are nail places out there that are not clean, where the techs are not properly trained or even licensed, and if they are not careful, can do damage to your nails.

However, this does not mean that all of us are bad.  In fact, there are a large number of us that take great pride in our work, cleanliness and ongoing training.  Sadly, it is buyer beware.  If you go to a place that only charges $30 for a set of nails, you get what you pay for.  Seeking out a properly trained tech that will not mistreat your nails is key.

I LOVE this post from nail guru Holly -aka FingerNailFixer…  Hopefully this answers a few questions, and clears some things up.


The first claim is danger from the UV lamp. If reports from a doctor are sufficient evidence then here are some quotes from doctors as well as evidence from scientific testing in research facilities not related to the beauty industry:

According to Dr. Robert M. Sayre, Ph.D., of Rapid Precision Testing Laboratories one of the creators of the SPF rating system: “UV Nail Lamps are safer than natural sunlight or sunlamps.” According to Dr. Sayre: “People who are indoors have little to no skin risk due to long-term exposure to fluorescent lighting. People who sunbathe or work outdoors have real risks of excessive UV exposure, the cause of sunburn and skin cancer.” Hands get more UV exposure holding the steering wheel of a car or talking on a cell phone outside than they do from the use of UV nail lamps.
“One would need 250 years of weekly nail sessions to equal one treatment in a tanning bed.” Dr Markova & Dr Weinstock (I do not post this comment to bash tanning, merely to give a comparison that people can relate to.)
Here’s a great link to the facts about UV nail lamp safety:
LED is less dangerous than UV. Both of these types of light have UV output, they simply have different types of bulbs. LED lamps put out a higher intensity of UVA in order to provide faster curing times. As evidenced by the quotes and report above, neither is causing damage.
The next claim is allergies. Can you become allergic to products used on your nails? Yes, just as you can become allergic to food you eat, perfume you use, flowers you smell, and pretty much anything in your environment that you come into contact with regularly. Can you prevent an allergy? Yes, by making sure that products are used per manufacturers’ instructions. No polish should touch the skin; it should only be applied to the nail iteself. Avoiding contact with the skin during application and using the lamp calibrated to properly cure the product will help prevent overexposure that can lead to an allergy.
The third claim is infection. Nail services should not require a Tylenol or a Band-Aid! Living tissue should not be cut and the thin ridge of skin at the base of the nail is living tissue. This ridge of skin known as the eponychium should not be aggressively pushed back nor removed as it helps create a seal that protects the matrix producing the nail cells. Infections can arise from dirty implements or files as well as cut skin. Finding a salon that follows the industry standard in sanitation, disinfection, and procedures is the first step toward a healthy nail service of any kind. Be proactive and let your salon guests know what you do to keep them safe — how you clean your tools, that they get a new file each time, etc.
The fourth claim is damage. Do nail products themselves damage the nails? No, improper care of the nails causes damage. Some damage can be caused by an undereducated professional such as using a metal pusher or nipper to remove nail coatings from the nail. Damage can also occur with overfilling of the natural nail. What our guests also need to be aware of is that improper home care can damage the nails as well. For instance peeling or picking off a nail coating takes part of the nail plate leaving the nail thinner and possibly uneven. Buffing the nails excessively at home will thin them as well, and choosing not to condition them in any manner allows them to be more susceptible to being dry and brittle.



I’m sharing a photo of nails that have had manicures using a UV lamp for over a year on a 90-year-old client so you can see the condition of her natural nail as well as share the photo until you can take some of your own.   Face this false stories with facts. I hope this helps, hang in there!

— Holly


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.