The Science of Nails

Rumors of the Demise of Acrylic Are Greatly Exaggerated

Rumors are flying that acrylic products for nail extensions are on their way out. Whether these rumors were started by nail technicians who have abandoned acrylic in favor of some other technology, or by manufacturers who have developed acrylic alternatives, is unclear. What is clear is that there isn’t any reason to believe the rumors, even though they have developed a life of their own.

I think this rumor has been spreading for a variety of reasons. For one, there may be some confusion between ethyl methacrylate (a monomer used widely in acrylic systems today) and methyl methacrylate (a monomer formerly used in acrylic systems but banned for use today). Despite the fact that methyl methacrylate, a chemical cousin of ethyl, was banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the 1970s for use in the nail industry, there are nail technicians still being it. Word is out that the illegal substance is being used and the confusion between the similarly name chemicals is threatening the reputation of the legitimate product.

Adding further to the confusion are the rumors that ethyl methacrylate will soon be banned. There is no information available to NAILS Magazine indicating that ethyl methacrylate will be banned for use on nails. While the acrylic system component has been scrutinized lately by the beauty industry’s Cosmetic Ingredient Review Board (CIR), that body did not recommend banning or limiting the chemical’s use. To the contrary, the board studied ethyl methacrylate and determined that it is safe if used as directed by trained personnel.

Nail technicians who have been trained in the proper use of acrylic systems and who are careful to prevent exposure of all products to “soft tissue,” which means skin and cuticle, have no reason to fear the discontinuation of acrylic liquids made with ethyl methacrylate.

Nail technicians have a responsibility to use this and all chemicals carefully and to continue their education to stay on top of new developments in chemical use and safety. Nail technicians who have elected not to use any acrylic system anymore should not disparage those professionals who continue to use them safely and responsibly. As we can see by the fear this particular rumor generated, the industry as a whole suffers when a rumor goes unchallenged.

Keywords:   acrylics     EMA     MMA     product safety  

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