MMA vs EMA Acrylic Nails

purple plum manicure Acrylic Nails
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Are you planning to get your nails done but talks about MMA and EMA make you worry? What does MMA vs EMA acrylic nails even mean? 

There are many things you need to know before you decide on getting or creating your own acrylic nails

Aside from the before and aftercare, you also need to be aware of other matters. 

To let you in on what you need to know regarding MMA and EMA acrylic nails, we researched and compiled relevant information in this article. 

If you want to put your worries aside, continue reading below!

What Is MMA Nails?

MMA stands for Methyl Methacrylate. It’s a colorless organic compound in liquid form that can dissolve and float in water. 

Paints and nail polishes contain MMA. But its harmful effects became apparent to its users through the years. 

Upon the many evidence of the dangers it produces, the FDA ultimately issued a notice to warn the public about the compound. 

But even with the FDA classifying it as a toxic chemical, it’s still an ingredient of many products today.

MMA is also used as: 

  • A luting agent in dentistry
  • Part of the creation process of prosthetic devices and orthopedic surgery
  • Intraocular lenses in ophthalmology

Nail salons looking to save on expenses might use MMA for acrylic nails. 

However, even if MMA has a cement-like consistency great for solid acrylic nails, it also makes the nails insipid. 

It’s the reason why they are more prone to breakage. 

Not only that, it can get through the skin pores and into the nail plate and make you a victim of various health issues. 

Why Is MMA Bad for Nails?

MMA was present in the earlier days of nail enhancements because of its bonding abilities. 

It was a constant material in professional nail products unregulated by the FDA before the discovery of its risks.

Today, however, MMA acrylic for nails is considered illegal. 

But why is MMA acrylic illegal?

MMA is only illegal when used on nails. 

Aside from being a flammable and reactive material, making it a fire and explosion hazard, MMA can cause severe damage to your health. 

Here are the risks connected to MMA nail products: 

Nail Infections

Because the bond between your natural nail and the acrylics created by MMA is so strong, any accidental bump on the finished nails can lift and damage the nail bed.

MMA works great on dentures but not on softer tissues like those in your nails. 

MMA nail damage makes your natural nails fragile. 

Any resulting breakage will make them vulnerable to diseases and infections. 

Nail Deformities

Similar to what people experienced before, MMA can still cause injuries and permanent deformities. 

This includes partial or complete loss of the nail plate due to damage done on the nail matrix responsible for nail growth.

Respiratory Problems

If the place you get your nails done has no appropriate ventilation, vapors from MMA can result in sinus problems. 

MMA can also affect the nervous system and cause that “pins and needles ” feeling. 

You may even suffer light-headedness and nausea upon inhaling MMA repeatedly. 

Additionally, it can also damage your kidneys and liver.

Allergic Reactions

Especially if you have repeated contact with MMA, your skin will start to itch and even rash. 

It can also swell and lead to open sores and blisters.

Your exposure to MMA can be without your knowledge, but these signs will tell you what you could have exposed yourself to.

What Is EMA Nails?

Because injuries connected to MMA use rose in the early 1970s, FDA, after discussions with dermatologists, banned the use of 100% MMA

However, the ban left a question of what can take its place.

By 2002, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel labeled EMA safe. Still, individuals are urged to avoid direct skin contact with EMA as it may trigger allergies.

In short, EMA nails are the safer alternative for MMA. 

EMA or Ethyl Methacrylate appears similar to MMA with its colorless liquid consistency. 

Today, it’s the primary ingredient in many acrylic nails. 

Legal acrylics contain 70% to 90% EMA. 

Mixed with other elements, an acrylic manufacturer can control the nails’:

  • Flexibility
  • Color
  • Odor
  • Adhesion
  • Curing Time
  • Yellowing
  • Clarity  

Is EMA Safe?

EMA is one of the most studied monomers. Because of this, numerous studies can prove that it’s safe for use. 

It’s utilized in many products such as synthetic rubbers, varnishes, leather, plastics, and many more. 

It’s even used in medical devices placed in the body.

Signs A Nail Salon Is Using MMA

Before going through with your nail appointment, have you checked if the salon is reputable and trustworthy? 

Especially if it’s your first time in that location, you need to be certain that it’s not putting you in danger by cutting corners. 

Of course, simply asking the salon if they’re using MMA won’t be enough. 

Although most salons refuse to include the chemical in their services because of the dangers it poses, some stubbornly keep their MMA supplies for many reasons. 

If a nail salon uses MMA, it will do its best to hide that fact from you. 

So here are some ways on how to know if your nail salon uses MMA:

Extremely Cheap Nail Services 

Low nail services costs should always raise your red flags. 

If you’re unsure how much nail acrylic services are priced, you can first search online or even walk around to canvass prices. 

Take into consideration the color and design of the acrylic nails you want to have, as these will also impact the service’s total cost.

In the United States, acrylic nails can range from $25 in budget nail shops to $85 in luxury spas.

Questionable Behavior

What if you found a nail salon and are just waiting for them to start on your nails? 

While waiting on your nail technician to start, you can ask questions. 

Try if your nail technician is willing to show and explain the products they’ll be using on your nails. 

If they are, you’ll learn more about your nails and acrylics. 

If they don’t want to or are trying to avoid the topic, it’s best to get out of that salon.

Another telltale sign is they need to visit the backdoor every time they retrieve something. 

Be wary, especially if you can’t see what they are doing inside and what they include in the solutions they’ll be using on your nails.

Even if MMA is illegal, it’s still widely manufactured because of the high demand for it in dirt-cheap nail products. 

So it’s not shocking to still see salons who use it in their products.

Stinging Nails

Be on the lookout after you get your nails done. 

An itchy or burning sensation is a dead giveaway that something is wrong with the nail application or the materials used during your session. 

If your nail technician tells you the itch is normal, they’re lying. 

EMA doesn’t cause any painful prickling. 

How To Identify Products with MMA

If you’re still unsure, here are other ways you can use to recognize if a product contains MMA:

It’s listed on the label of the product. 

Some older products still available in the market will have MMA in their listed ingredients. 

If you’re in a nail salon, observe how they label the products they use. 

If their products are with generic labels, with no brand name you can see, and the container is old with clear refilled taints, rethink your nail salon choice.

It has a pungent smell.

Most products used for your nails have a strong odor. But you can detect MMA by its fruity smell that can make your stomach churn. 

Its smell is far from other acrylic liquids. 

Although EMA also has a powerful scent, it won’t make you feel like throwing up. 

Some also describe MMA’s smell similar to a fish or cat urine.

The end nail product is harder compared to the usual acrylic. 

It’s also less flexible and tough to file. MMA acrylic nails feel almost impossible to remove with usual solutions. 

Do this simple test to be sure if you’re wearing MMA nails:

  1. File the shiny part of your nail enhancement.
  2. Dip it in pure acetone for at least 30 seconds.
  3. If nothing changes and it does not affect the nail, you may be wearing MMA.