the Pitfalls of Professional Nail Care (Part 1)
has its price - but when it comes to nail extensions and other
nail services, it shouldn't include your health.
however, it's ill-health - as reflected in the nails, on the surrounding
skin and in the respiratory tract - that's the price many women
have paid in search of a desirable set of nails.
Nails, you say? What could be easier than a set of extensions
or a simple manicure?
services may seem simple, but it's important to remember that
they often involve chemicals, metal implements and cutting. The
end result? The potential for adverse reactions and infections
that can lead to permanent nail loss or deformity, red and itching
skin, respiratory problems and the transmittal of diseases.
What, then, is a beauty maven to do?
Certainly not abandon the art of beautiful nails! There's a much
better way out of this potential quagmire: Get educated, exercise
awareness and take responsibility for keeping nail services safe!
It Sounds Too Good To Be True . . .
The old adage, "There's no such thing as a free lunch," should
be well heeded in the search for acrylic nail extensions.
As any woman who's sported - or simply priced - these additions
will tell you, bargains (seemingly) abound. Those a little squeamish
about paying $60 or more for a full set, can usually find a salon
just down the street or around the corner weighing in at a more
reasonable $20 or so for the same service.
But is it really the same?
Fierce competition in the nail industry has prompted many unscrupulous
nail salons to replace an industry-sanctioned liquid acrylic monomer
with a cheap, second-rate cousin - one that the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration called "poisonous and deleterious" and informally
banned in 1974 after receiving numerous complaints about its use
in the nail industry.
The complaints included the loosening or loss of natural nails,
nail discoloration, contact dermatitis, soreness and infections.
It seems that the product, which has many legitimate uses - such
as binding prostheses to bones in replacement surgery and making
dental appliances - is dangerous mostly because of its strength:
It adheres to the nail so thoroughly (through a molecular bond,
no less) and then dries into a substance that's so strong (think
Plexiglas and Lucite) that it'll pull off one or more layers
of the nail before de-attaching itself.
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That means that the acrylic extension isn't going to give when it
comes to bumping or snagging the nail - but given a moderate amount
of force, the natural nail certainly will. Indeed. In such cases,
the natural nail has been known to separate from the nail bed, leaving
its owner with what turns out to be a permanently deformed nail,
or no nail at all.
Of course, there's also the issue of toxicity. When used to create
acrylic nail extensions, the product - called methyl methacrylate
(or MMA) - is placed on the nail in a chemically reactive, uncured
As such, it's more easily absorbed into the blood stream (especially
given its small molecular structure and the practice of roughening
the nail beforehand to increase adherence) and it's more likely
to promote allergic reactions (which may only occur after prolonged
contact - such as happens every few weeks when it's time to fill
the gaps created by new nail growth).
Although MMA will not store in body tissue, it will store as methanol
in the blood and urine. As for allergic reactions (which can appear
with any chemical product), they can be quite severe, manifesting
themselves in redness, swelling and itching, which can lead to blisters
and open sores. The fingertips may also become numb or feel itchy
under the nail.
Studies have shown MMA fumes to cause damage to the lungs, liver
and heart - especially with long-term exposure. (Such problems have
been documented in laboratory animals and among lab technicians
who have worked in dental labs where crowns and dentures are made.
Keep in mind that these technicians are working with the product
in its uncured state - the same state in which the product is applied
to create nail extensions.)
So what's the lure of MMA to salons? It costs as little as $15 a
gallon - a considerable savings over the cost of the non-FDA-banned
ethyl methacrylate (or EMA), which can cost $200-to-$250 a gallon.
In short, it's good for the bottom line.
But short of a sign advertising its (unscrupulous!) use, how's
a poor girl to know that she's being served an unwelcome helping
Fortunately, there are a few warning signs worth heeding. In addition
to cheap pricing (although not all competitively priced nail salons
are guilty), think twice if the product being used has an extremely
strong odor (so strong that many technicians wear masks - although
some wear masks simply to prevent the inhalation of acrylic dust),
the nails cause pain, and they're extremely difficult to remove
(usually prompting the technician to use a drill).
To disguise the use of MMA, many salons label the smaller bottles
used to hold the product as EMA, or as nothing at all. To calm any
concerns over the product being used, it's a good idea to ask to
see the original product container.
this topic with others right now at Beauty
Crispens is a New York-based freelance writer and editor with
a passion for unlocking the secrets to healthy living, anti-aging
and personal style at all ages.