Are your Nails Toxic?

Are your Acrylic Nails toxic to your health? In trying to save yourself a few dollars at a local nail bar you might actually be putting your health at risk.

Cheap nail bars are popping up everywhere these days and there are many reasons they are so cheap. They have little or no qualifications, cut corners with hygiene and use extremely toxic acrylic products which they buy in bulk.

If you want to safeguard your health as well as your nail beds call or text us today to book your appointment 0419 806 803

There have been numerous tv programs warning consumers about the dangers of nail bars. If you haven’t seen them, please watch this episode.

Below are some Red Flags to look out for when choosing where to get your nails done.


Red Flag #1 Fishy or Fruity Pungent Smell

If upon entering any salon, there is an overwhelming sickly smell, causing you to have problems breathing chances are the salon in question is using MMA.

Acrylic liquid has a strong smell but not so strong that it physically affects you. Some beauty services involving chemicals often have offensive odors, like perm solution. 

However, while the smell may not be pleasant, it should not physically affect you. If you experience any tightness in your throat or chest, tingling in your fingers, nails or cuticles, lightheadedness, dizziness, or an odd taste in your mouth, it is possible that you are being exposed to MMA. 

Red Flag #2 Acrylic Nails don’t hurt

When preparing your natural nails for acrylic your nail technician needs to gently remove the shine from your nails which should be done with a hand file not an electric drill. If your nail technician is rough or your nails and cuticles are becoming sore or starting to bleed, ask them to stop and get up and leave!

Red Flag #3 Use of Electric Drills on natural nails

This is a definite no no! Electric drills are designed to shorten acrylic length, drill down the acrylic in order to renew a french white or glitter smile line.  Never to be used on a natural nail.

If your technician tries to use an electric drill on your natural nails at the beginning of any nail treatment (manicure, shellac or acrylic) ask them to stop then get up and leave!

Red Flag #4 Salon hygiene

If you don’t think the salon looks clean – get up and leave! If the salon itself doesn’t look clean then chances are the implements and files wont be either. This also goes for ALL metal implements that might be used during a service (nail clippers, cuticle pushers, acrylic clippers) as well as buff blocks and nail files. 

After each client all implements should be cleaned and sanitised prior to using on the next client. The files and implements should always look clean, be dust free and not look like they’ve been used on the client before you.

Doing acrylic nails is a dusty process, however the nail technician should always keep their desk, acrylic pots, liquid, files and implements clean, tidy and free from excessive acrylic dust.

Red Flag #5 Yellow Acrylic
If the nail salon is using a superior acrylic system your acrylic nails WILL NEVER turn yellow…. not today, tomorrow, next month, next year!!

If they are using a cheap acrylic, you can expect to see your acrylic nails turn yellow within 6 – 8 weeks.

Red Flag #6  Price

The saying “nice nails aren’t cheap and cheap nails aren’t nice” is very true. 

While this is not always the case, low prices can be a good indicator that the salon is using MMA or an extremely cheap acrylic system..

You should expect to pay more if your nail technician is… 

  • using a superior non yellowing MMA FREE acrylic system

  • fully trained in their field

  • updating their current skills as nail trends are always changing

  • sanitising all equipment prior to and after each use 

  • using disposable implements (where possible)

  • making sure you have a clean environment for you to have your beauty treatments done in

Obviously, that is going to cost the business more money so obviously they are going to pass on some of these costs to you, the consumer. 

Remember… you always get what you pay for!

Red Flag #7 How to tell if Acrylic Liquid containing MMA has been used on your nails?

• Each time prior to your refills you will be asked to soak your fingernails in a bowl of Acetone so that the acrylic can be softened making filing easier. 

• It will only be able to be drilled off with an electric drill as hand filling will not thin the acrylic down.   

• If trying to remove the acrylic nails via the ‘soak off’ method yourself, and after 30 minutes of soaking, the acrylic hasn’t started to soften, then you can be 100% sure that the acrylic system that was used to make your nails contained toxic MMA. 

What is so bad about Methyl Metha-crylate.  (MMA)?

In Australia, MMA has been classed as a poison, and is now banned in the beauty industry because with prolonged exposure it can cause

any or all of the following:

• redness and swelling around your cuticles

• itching

• rash

• sensitive nail beds and cuticles

• nail deformities

• permanent nail loss 

• miscarriages 

• liver damage 

• respiratory problems (ever wondered why the acrylic smell is over powering and why some nail technicians wear their masks even when they aren’t drilling acrylic) 

• because of it’s strength and inflexibility it can literally lift your natural nail off your nail plate during accidental damage, because it is not cosmetic grade. 

• It is a much cheaper product (approximately one third of the price of cosmetic grade products) in comparison to other acrylic nail products.

• Methyl methacrylate (MMA), a monomer of acrylic resin. It has a wide variety of dental, medical and industrial applications. Some dentists use MMA to  make crowns, bridges, dentures and veneers. It can also be used as bone cement by orthopedic surgeons during joint replacement procedures, also used in some flooring products.

Physical reaction — If your fingers burn, itch or hurt after receiving nail services, this can indicate MMA exposure. Beauty services are not a no-pain-no-gain arena. We hear of consumers who, when asked if their fingers hurt after getting acrylic nails, say yes, but only for a couple of days. Ask yourself, if you went to a hair salon and got your hair colored or permed and your head hurt, but only for a couple of days, would you go back? No, you would not!!! It is not “normal” for your fingers to hurt after professional nail services.


Finally, do your research when choosing a salon

Does the salon you are considering have an online presence and reviews? This is crucial if you are looking for a good salon. If they do have an online presence you will be able to read some of their reviews/recommendations and then you can make an informed decision.

Once you have decided on a salon, contact them to make your booking… By doing this you will be able to get a feel of their customer service and you will also be able to ask them any questions you have or voice any concerns you may have that have risen from your previous salon experiences.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions…if they care about you as a customer they will not mind answering any questions you have!!!

What about your cheap nail polishes and nail hardeners?

Cheap nail polishes aren’t a good buy, when purchasing nail polishes and nail hardeners please read your labels to make sure that they DO NOT contain any of these 3 toxins:

Dibutyl phthalate (DBP): which keeps polish from becoming brittle, also can cause reproductive harm. Known to trigger asthma attacks. Linked to breast cancer, birth defects. Disruptive to the Endocrine system causes changes in hormone levels.

Formaldehyde: a nail hardener also used in a wide variety of products including air fresheners and some hair straightening products. Considered a human carcinogen by U.S. health agencies, it is an irritating chemical causing people to have allergic reactions. 

Don’t be fooled if it’s listed as formalin on the label.

Toluene: the aromatic solvent can irritate the eyes, throat and lungs. Known to cause dizziness and short term intoxication as well as damage the nervous system and potentially harm an unborn child. It is a solvent that is found in petrol. 


Please put your health and safety first before trying to save money on your nails.