I read with interest your article in the October 1993 issue on the possible dangers of acetone. Although the polish remover we use in our salon is acetone-free, we use acetone to soak off nails that are cracked or broken. The finger tips soak in acetone for up to five minutes at a time. After reading your article, I am extremely concerned about the possible hazards to the health of my clients and nail technicians.
There is no health hazard to your clients or technicians from soaking the nail in acetone for five minutes. However, it is essential that you ensure that the salon is well-ventilated and that no one smokes or lights a match when acetone is being used because it is extremely flammable. It might interest you to know that I inhaled all types of chemicals regularly for one year when I took organic chemistry in college, and I suffered no ill effects.
Soaking the fingertips in acetone to remove applications does temporarily damage the nail and surrounding skin by removing moisture and natural oils. The injury is not permanent; the skin will return to normal within a day or two after a moisturizer is applied.
The underlying nail takes longer to heal. Removing the application tears and fragments the nail surface, making it rough. Acetone dehydrates the nail plate and makes it brittle. Occasionally, healing will not occur and a new nail will have to grow, which can take three to six months.
None of these effects are a health hazard and they are not likely to cause permanent injury to the client’s nails (which will always regenerate). Assuming the client understands beforehand the potential effects, she can make the choice to wear acrylics.