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 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.
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 IMMEDIATELY
Nail 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
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 lamps 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 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
- 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
similar to polish 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:
- Using polish over any type of enhancement or natural nails
- Applying white tips with a clear or sheer pink acrylic or gel, or
resin with fiberglass or acrylic powder.
- 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
- Using a "form" and sculpting the white tip using acrylic, or
gel and clear or a sheer pink on the nail bed.
- 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
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 & SWITCHsalons 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
NONE of the above services are anything special,
nor should they incur any additional cost.
Additional information about acrylic liquid monomer
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
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.
* A Non-Standard Salon (NSS) is usually
lacking in or follows poor sanitation practices, uses inferior and/or prohibited
products, and under trained or non-licensed technicians.
Drill and MMA damage