Instead of keeping up with those Kardashian’s, keep your nail game strong and healthy. Don’t get caught up in the streets with broken nails and missing eyelashes, you never know when you’ll see your haters. If you’re going to truly do “self care,” get educated with the chemicals going into making you feel and look beautiful. Do you know the difference between MMA and EMA? Ever since I switched nail techs, my nails have been in better shape. When she first laid her hands on my nails, she said, “those gotta come off.” Yes, I had MMA nails. It was because the nail salon I’d been frequenting for years was using the bootleg products, even though I was paying top dollar. So we started with a blank canvas which in the nail world means soaking off the acrylics and shaving off the tips. Something you should be doing at least every 4 weeks of wearing fake nails anyway. MMA / EMA is the liquid chemical used to mode the acrylic. MMA, the acrylic monomer or the liquid acid used to activate the powder to melt onto your nails, happens to be super horrible and dangerous for your nails. However, so many salons are still using MMA and customers have NO idea. Here’s what you need to know about EMA and MMA acrylic powder.
MMA (also known as Methyl methacrylate liquid monomers) acrylic is dangerous to the nail and skin around the nail. When used it can turn the natural nail yellow, lead to permanent nail loss and even numb the nail and skin around it so much it can lead to irritation and air blockage. MMA creates super hard nail enhancements that don’t break. However, when the nail is jammed, the natural nail breaks first, under the MMA acrylic causing even more painful damage.
MMA was introduced to the nail industry in the 1970s when dentists used the same powder to form porcelain dentures. It can also be found in plastic. However, by the end of the 70s, numerous complaints were filed to the FDA about the horrible effects of this powder to the skin and thus it became somewhat illegal. I’m saying somewhat because nail salons still use MMA today, as this is the cheaper route.
MMA acrylic powder reacts differently to each person. For example, when I get my nails done with MMA, on the first day, my nails feel super tight and mildly swollen, like tight braids aching to be loosened up. Why did I let someone who may not even have a license put this on my nails? I didn’t know any better! The tightness I use to experience with each fresh set was my skin reacting to chemicals that don’t allow your nails to breath, the strong chemicals used to form plastics. This is a common side effect that most people put up with regularly. Other side effects include swelling so bad, your cuticles can easily become infected with puss build up if you are highly sensitive. My nail tech actually told me that a young girl she knew of didn’t know she was allergic to MMA and as soon as the acrylic hit her nail beds, the reaction took its course and she had to be hospitalized! Moments after her nails were did, they had to be cut off while the ambulance rushed to the nail salon.
According to the FDA, MMA is a dangerous chemical that can lead to miscarriages. More here. Even the dust from the acrylic powder is a problem. MMA is hard to file and mold which produces a lot of dust when the nail tech goes at it with a drill. This is what makes MMA unsafe to use due to its inability to adhere well to the nail plate, often causing dents and thinning or no natural nail at all.
When MMA soaks off your natural nails, it looks gooey, melted glue and smells SO bad. The smell lingers even when it’s exposed. That’s why when you walk past some of these hood salons, you can smell what’s cooking from a few yards away.
Unfortunately and for cheap reasons, a lot of nail salons found in lower income areas are still using MMA acrylic and nobody seems to cares. The fact that nail suppliers are still selling MMA is ridiculous. It poses risks for the nail tech ( who usually wear a mask to prevent inhaling the smell) and the nail wearer ( messing up the nail beds and turning nails yellow).
EMA ( Ethyl methacrylate) is the more accepting type of acrylic liquid. In 1999, Cosmetic Ingredient Review approved the use of EMA as safe in nail products. The difference between MMA and EMA products are in the smell, the way they soak off your nail beds, the damage to your natural nails, and overall reaction.
If you are concerned that you have been exposed to MMA, it’s a good thing. The first step is getting it removed from your nails immediately. If you haven’t been getting a new set at least once a month, it can be easy for MMA ruin your nails. Proper nail maintenance requires a fresh set every month. Get with it, or get a regular manicure.