Industry safety experts agree that wearing a mask— especially while filing acrylic or using a drill — is a good thing. While most masks won’t protect you from inhaling vapors, they do prevent overexposure to dusts and filings. Despite this fact many nail techs and consumers have come to consider dust masks a telltale sign of sub-par workmanship or MMA use. Even our own Nail Manufacturers Council once warned that they are an indicator of MMA use; though they subsequently softened their language.

Now that occupational health concerns such as product allergies and carpal tunnel syndrome are increasingly in nail technicians’ awareness, are attitudes changing? Read on to find out what your colleagues have to say on the subject.

Amy Anzlovar

Amy Anzlovar

Amy Anzlovar, Nails et al., Aurora, Colo.: I do think masks have a stigma attached to them, whether it’s deserved or not. I don’t tend to create much dust because I do not use an elec­tric file, nor do I file much in general — I try to make the nails as smooth as possible by my application. If a tech needs to wear one because of respiratory problems, I haveno problem with that.

Renee Borowy.V.l.P. Nails & Tans, Taylor, Mich.: In my opinion, masks do scare the clientele and are associated with less- expensive salons in our area I feel that if the acrylic is applied correctly there should be little filing to produce much less dust.

Diana Bonn, Mirror Image, Muncie, Ind. I educate the public by stating if your technician is using a mask during the filing part of a nail service, then they are protecting themselves from the dust particles. If your technicians is using a mask for the whole hour, then it could be a sign of MMA.

Chelly Eric, Total Image, Winthrop Harbor, Ill.: I used to wear a mask to keep from breathing in all the dust, especially when removing gel polish or doing a French backfill. Clients were fine with it and my health was more important than what anyone thought of what I was wearing. Now I use a great tabletop dust-extracting machine that works at the source and I don’t have to wear a mask anymore.

Karen Hodges

Karen Hodges

Karen Hodges, Salon Key West, Key West, Fla. I personally don’t wear a mask, but since switching to gel polishes recently, I may rethink this I don’t want to breathe all that dust when they are removed! It should be a personal decision

Faith Glionna, Cuticles, Indialantic, Fla.: I don’t care for masks, but only be­cause I can’t breath in them’ I’ll use one when I am sick and can’t stay home from work, but I do sense the clients are a little uncomfortable when they are worn.

Tamika Hardy, Come To You, New York, N.Y. Many clients who came tous from discount salons are extremely wary of anything that reminds them of their previous nail salons such as the masks. Clients definitely connect dust masks with the strong MMA odor.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, Click here.

Read more about