Posted on August 21, 2009 at 2:06 PM

Chemicals - MMA and the Salon Professional

It is important for all salon workers, not just for the nail technicians, to be aware of the dangers from the use of MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomer and its dangers to the skin and nail.

Methyl Methacrylate Liquid Monomers

In years past, methyl methacrylate (MMA) was a routinely used ingredient in professional nail products. These products were often referred to as “dental acrylics” or “porcelain nails”. However from the start there seem to be serious problems resulting from the use of MMA. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had received so many complaints related to the use of MMA that in the late 1970s, the FDA was forced to take action against a number of the manufacturers of these products.

MMA-related complaints ranged from skin allergy to permanent loss of the nail plate. It can also cause loss of sensation in the fingertips. As the problem became more serious, the FDA warned manufacturers the further use of MMA in nail enhancement products formulated with MMA were considered too dangerous for use in the beauty industry.

In 1972 MMA gained further notoriety when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deemed it a “poisonous and deleterious” ingredient when used in liquid monomer and got a court ordered injunction prohibiting a particular nail product manufacturer from selling MMA monomer. These actions by the FDA sent MMA into the underground industry. In 1996, the FDA restated its position and opposition to the use of MMA.

MMA – Monomer vs. Polymer Powders

Nail technicians who are aware of the dangers of MMA are often confused when they discover that some acrylic powders contain this ingredient. The problems described above do not apply to the use of MMA polymers. In the fully polymerized and solid form, the substance is considered safe. When MMA is converted into a polymer, it is called “poly methyl methacrylate,” or PMMA. In the polymer form, PMMA is chemically identical to Plexiglas or Lucite and is considered safe for use on natural nails.

MMA in the Salon

Why do Salons still use MMA? MMA is popular because it sets up fast and adheres like no other product can or should. Above all, it is cheap. You can purchase a gallon at a fraction of the cost of the name brand ethyl methacrylate monomer. MMA nails bond so firmly to the natural nail and are so hard that instead of snapping safely off the natural nail when jammed or caught, they hold tight, causing painful breaks and rupture of the natural nail.

Additionally, MMA can cause serious skin reactions and incessant nail damage, not excluding permanent nail loss.

Studies indicate that long-term exposure to the nail technician and other salon employees can result in permanent damage to the liver and respiratory system.

MMA Product Detection

To determine if a product has MMA as part of its composition here are three simple things to watch for:

• Produces nail extensions that are extraordinarily durable and very hard to file, even with unyielding abrasives.

• Produces nail extensions that will not dissolve for removal in solvents designed for acrylics.

• Exhibits a powerful and peculiar odor that is considerably different than that of other acrylic liquids.

The Nail Manufacturers Council fully supports the FDA’s position and recommends against nail technicians using liquid monomers, which are formulated with MMA. They believe that the significant danger to salon employees and clients makes the use of MMA both unwise and unethical. In their opinion, the health risks and public relations problems created by the illegal use of MMA seriously threaten the entire professional nail industry. Hopefully MMA is not being used in your salon. If you suspect that it is you should learn as much as you can about the dangers and health risks and then make a decision as to whether you want to remain in that environment.


Hair protects the body from heat loss and ultraviolet rays. The root of the hair shaft is termed the hair follicle. A nerve ending surrounds the bulb of each hair follicle below the skin. Additionally glands secrete an oily substance directly onto the hair follicle, lubricating the hair shaft and providing an acid pH environment that protects the hair. This as in skin is called the acid mantle.

Hair is composed of three different layers; the first is the medulla (the center, the pith or marrow of the hair shaft), the cortex (the middle layer, containing pigment or color), and the cuticle (the outside layer). The chemical composition of hair is 50.65% carbon, 6.36% hydrogen, 17.14% nitrogen, 5.00% sulphur, and 20.85% oxygen. It made up of the protein keratin (also found in skin and nails). The joining of amino acids forms keratin protein. The fact that the acids join at some places along the protein chain makes keratin relatively resistant to change.

Like other mammals, humans are covered by hair. Human body hair is much finer than that of our mammalian counterparts, and is concentrated primarily on


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