MMA (Methylmethacrylate)

WHY MMA (Methylmethacrylate) should not be used:

MMA is solvent resistant - MMA does not soak off easily or in a reasonable length of time, causing undue exposure to acetone while soaking. Some 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 30 minutes or less to soak off, while MMA will take more than an hour to remove by soaking in acetone.

To remove, or maintain an MMA enhancement, a drill (electric file or e-file as we call it) will most often be used.
E-files, 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 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). Additionally, 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, sometimes the nail, but not usually damage the nail plate.

Poor adhesion - To make MMA adhere well to the nail, overly rough preparation methods are used.
The nail plate is "roughed up" with a coarse 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.

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, and sometimes the nail will break off, but will not usually damage the nail plate.

The FDA (Food & Drug Administration in the USA), 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.

Warning signs of MMA use:

Here are some signs that your acrylic nails may contain MMA:

- 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 take a very long time to soak off in solvents designed to remove acrylics.
- Cloudy or milky color when cured.

Difference between EMA and MMA?

First, 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!).

Another difference, and one that is most relative to consumers, is PRICE. MMA is much less expensive (about 1/16th the cost!), compared to EMA - this may explain the difference in prices at different salons.

Find a Qualified Technician

Manicure 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. Report a complaint and submit it promptly with photos if possible.
The salons that usually cause a problem are usually lacking or one that follows poor sanitation practices, uses inferior and/or prohibited products, and under trained or non-qualified technicians.

Additional warning signs though less definitive:

- Low price of fills and full sets (MMA cost 1/3 of EMA)
- Techs or management that are secretive about brands used. Just because they have a name brand polish in the salon does not mean they are using that brand of acrylic. ASK to see original containers!
- Technicians often wear masks to prevent inhalation of the powerful distinct odor- noxious, sharp and fruity (although many technicians use dust masks today who do not use MMA)
- You experience headaches and a runny nose when you visit the salon

EMA is safe

You will be happy to know that ethyl methacrylate is one of the most studied monomers on Earth. There is a huge amount of scientific literature that backs up the safety of this important substance. It is used in everything from household plastics to medical devices that are implanted in the body.



Ultraviolet radiation is an electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between 100~400nm. These rays are emitted from the sun and are not visible to our naked eye. Based on the effects, UV radiation is categorized into 3 ranges: UV-A, B and C.


covers wavelengths of 320-400nm, and is not absorbed by the ozone layer and is the least harmful UV ray. Most

covers wavelengths of 320-400nm, and is not absorbed by the ozone layer and is the least harmful UV ray. Most of the sun’s natural light is categorized into UV-A. It penetrates deep into the skin causing wrinkles and aging over time. People come in contact with UVAs when they are sun-tanning.


covers wavelengths of 280-320nm. There is more energy in UV-B than UV-A, and it is partially absorbed by the

ozone layer. UVB is needed for the production of vitamin D. Vitamin D regulates calcium metabolism which is crucial in our nervous system, bone growth, immunity, cell development, insulin secretion and blood pressure. However too much UV-B exposure can lead to direct DNA damage, sunburn and skin cancer.

UV-A and UV-B

can help treat skin conditions such as psoriasis and vitiligo,

however they can destroy vitamin A in the skin. All 3 types of UV radiation can damage collagen fibers and thereby accelerate aging of the skin.


covers wavelengths of 100-280nm. This shortwave radiation is almost never observed in nature because the ozone

layer absorbs UVC before it reaches the earth’s surface. UVC have the ability to kill bacteria in air, surface and water. In humans, UVC is absorbed in the outer dead layers of the epidermis. Unintentional overexposure to UVC causes skin redness and eye irritation, but does not cause skin cancer or cataracts.



It is very important for nail salons to maintain a sanitary manicure station. If all the equipment and tools are not cleaned properly, nail fungus and bacterial infections can quickly spread among clients. Therefore sanitizing equipment before reusing them is crucial, because mere soap and water wash does not cleanse thorougly. Sterilizing trays, jars, and bottles are available for purchase from retailers. You must also clean your hands thoroughly before you start each manicure. There are three different ways to sterilize nail salon tools, through:
dry heating, boiling, and rubbing alcohol.

One way to sterilize metal equipment is through heat. This can be done using an oven with the heat setting to 375 F. After washing the equipment with hot water and dish detergent, you must remove any and all visible debris on the tools. Briefly dry the cleaned tools on a cookie sheet (you can purchase a cookie sheet that is used exclusively for sanitizing tools). Make sure the tools are not touching each other on the cookie sheet. Place the cookie sheet into the oven for 15 minutes and let them cool completely. After the tools are cooled, you should place the sterilized tools into an airtight Ziploc bag or medical pouch.

You can sterilize through boiling, by filling a pot with water and placing it on the stove over high heat. While waiting for the water to reach a boil, clean your tongs and tools, using warm water and mild detergent to remove any visible debris. When the water boils, use the tongs to place the tools inside the pot. Boil the tools for 15 to 20 minutes then dry them on clean paper towels using sterilized tongs. Make sure you do not touch the tools with your hands when it has already been sanitized. Place the tools in a Ziploc bag using tongs, and seal the bag. Autoclave is a device used to sterilize equipment and supplies by using high pressure steam at 121 °C or more for about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the load.

The last way to sterilize metal tools is by soaking them in rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) for 25 minutes. Place tools in a pot or bowl and pour alcohol covering the tools. After 25 minutes, remove the tools and dry them, storing them immediately in a Ziploc bag. Appropriate salon disinfectants include EPA-registered Hospital disinfectants with bactericidal, fungicidal, and virucidal claims on the label, 10% bleach solution, or 70%~90% Isopropyl or ethyl alcohol.