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A bit of history – back in the early days of acrylic nails MMA was the only stuff available to enhance nails with and was purchased via the dental industry.  However, it did not take long for it to start causing problems and by the early 1970´s, there had been so many complaints about the product (due to women suffering from allergic reactions to it, and/or had major trauma to their own nails) that the FDA (Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act) became involved.

The FDA reviewed the complaints it was receiving and did some research, which resulted in them declaring MMA to be “poisonous and deleterious substance”, and cannot be used on nails.  So by 1974 it was suppose to be taken off the shelves in America!  An alternative was found – EMA (Ethyl Methacrylate Monomor) – only one letter difference but a big difference in the molecule!

EMA was created to be a safer, more flexible acrylic that is more likely to break under the stress.  Unlike MMA which is ridged and difficult to break, so your own nail takes the stress of any injury.

So, what is all the fuss about?  Unfortunately MMA is still available because it gets used for so many other things other than nails, and because it is extremely cheap.  A gallon of MMA can be purchased from the “back of a van” for around 11€ a gallon, whereas a gallon of cosmetic grade EMA goes for around 150€.  It is easy to see why some nail salons prefer MMA – big profit margins.

Now you can see why some nail salons offer nails at 20€ for a full set, whilst a more health and safety conscious salon will be charging around 40€ for a full set.

So I hear you saying what is so bad about MMA?  What you need to consider besides having nails that cost 20€ and that feel indestructible, is you need to worry about the chance of developing an allergic reaction.  The molecules in the monomer (liquid) are so tiny that they can get into your skin by soaking through the nail plate.  This means that your body is more likely to notice the foreign substance and revolt!  - Which is essentially what an allergic reaction is.  Ok so what is a little rash – I am afraid it can be a bit more serious than that.  I personally have a client who has had to have both her thumb nails surgically removed in Germany due to an allergic reaction.  Now her nails are deformed permanently.

Take a look at the photo above.  That is a nail with MMA on – ouch!  Notice how the nail itself is still in excellent shape.  But the natural nail has been torn off the nail bed.  That is the big problem with MMA.  It is so strong that it does not always break, but something has to and it is usually your own nail.  This is why it is banned in the USA and campaigns are underfoot in the UK to do the same.  Unfortunately it may be some time in Spain before we see a ban and in the meantime it will continue to be used as a cheap option.

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.

So how can I tell if a salon is using MMA?

Usually strong or strange odour which does not smell like other acrylic liquids

Enhancements are extremely had and very difficult to file, even with a course abrasive

Enhancements will not soak off and are nearly impossible to remove in solvents designed for acrylics

Low price service that are not included in special offers

Nail technicians are secretive about the brands they use

Liquids and powders are decanted into plain containers – ask to see originals

All technicians in salon where masks

You may experience headaches when having your nails done

The only acrylic product I use in the salon is an EMA liquid manufactured by CND (Creative Nail Design)  - Retention Liquid™

I do not purchase my stock from anywhere but a recommended distributor.

What is MMA?

It is an abbreviation for Methyl Methacrylate Monomer, which is the liquid used with acrylic powder to produce acrylic nails.  But it is not the type of acrylic you want on your nails.

MMA is dental acrylic.  It is what they make false teeth and crowns out of.  However, some dentists are now starting to use other products as they fear what MMA does to their clients.

MMA is also used in industry to hold concrete together and glue tiles to floors etc.  Sounds pretty strong to me, but do I want it on my nails – no thanks!


Health & Safety Warning: