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What's the difference and why does it matter?

Everyone loves nails and having their nails done. There is estimated to be around 30,000 nail bars across the UK, this does not include freelancers and small independent people. But how many of them can you trust are leaving your nails in the best health and using the correct products?


Correct products you ask?


In the UK there are two types of products used to create acrylic enhancements one which is safe (EMA) and the other which is dangerous (MMA)


What is MMA? (Methyl methacrylate)

MMA emerged in the dental industry for making crowns. It is also used as bone cement by surgeons during joint replacement and in some flooring products and resins. Some nail technicians in the 70's began using MMA for acrylic nail services because it was much less expensive than the safer alternative of EMA. However, the USA’s Food and Drug Administration received numerous complaints of personal injuries associated with the use of MMA. The complaints included serious nail damage or loss, contact dermatitis, organ damage from long term use, soreness and infection due to breaks caused by rigidly adhered acrylic. MMA was then declared "a poisonous and deleterious substance" under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1974 and was taken off the shelves. which is why MMA is now illegal in many countries worldwide.

What is EMA? (Ethyl Methacrylate)

EMA was created as a safe alternative for nail extensions. It is a much more flexible acrylic that is designed to break under extreme stress to the nail, therefore causing a lot less damage to the nail (MMA nails rarely lift or break and will take the nail plate off the nail bed if enough pressure is applied to break it). EMA contains none of the ingredients seen in MMA so will not have the same negative side-effects as MMA.

Health risks associated with using MMA:

  • Irritation.

  • Redness and Swelling.

  • Skin Sensitisation (tingling or numbness)

  • Respiratory problems or eye, nose and throat irritation.

  • Fungal or bacterial infections.

  • Discolouration of the nails (yellowing)

  • Nail damage or deformities.

Nail enhancements made using MMA products require the technician to etch the natural nail to create a secure bond - this usually involves the natural nails being overfilled resulting in thin nails. which then ultimately leads to you thinking acrylic is bad for your nails.


Spot the red flags!

If your ever wonder what is being used ask! You are entitled to know what is being used during your treatment. This goes for every service across the hair and beauty industry.


Things to look for:

  • Extremely strong smell of acrylic.

  • No labels on the products being used.

  • Extreme filing of the natural nail with drills.

  • Cheap prices

  • hard to remove


When removing the nails it will be very clear that MMA acrylic has been used. As pictured on the right is a simple illustration of how the nail appears during the removal process. MMA acrylic becomes sticky and gum like and does not dissolve in acetone, it simply becomes gel like needed to be filed off often giving off a strong smell. . EMA acrylic turns white and flaky and its much quicker to remove.






I use Naio nails (pictured) and I am very open about the brands I use, simply because I love them and have nothing to hide. these can always be seen throughout having your nails done.

Although not completely odourless, many people often comment on how nicer smelling it is compared to the nail bars.







Why do some nail salons still use MMA?

Despite MMA was declared "a poisonous and deleterious substance", it is not yet illegal in the UK so some salons are still using it today! Why? Because it is far cheaper. Purely and simply, MMA products are still used in nail bars as it is much cheaper to purchase, almost by 75%! These businesses are putting their bank account before the health and safety of their clients.


The bottom line.

So what's the point to all this? Although I cannot force you to buy from me I can simply provide a snippet of education. I fully understand not everyone's budgets can stretch to high-end salons, and there will be people out there who simply dont care, both of which are fine. But the more I learn about my industry and passion the more I want to pass that onto you.


I never like to slander or put a bad name to anyone, however I would implore avoid these types of salons. The people working in them have no accreditation and insufficient insurance, so if you were to experience a reaction or injury, you would not be covered. They normally only accept cash and they speak very little English. Records of their clients are non-existent so no one would ever be able to prove that you visited the salon and as no card payments are taken, you can never be traced to the salon.


If you're ever concerned that you have had incorrect products used or you would like to have your nails done correctly pop me a massage and have a chat!!


Thank you!

Emma, xoxo







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