The REAL Truth About Gel Manicures

This is in response to
Jul 21st 2010 By Amber Angelle
The Truth About Gel Manicures — Plus, Shellac, a New (Safer) Option

I can only shake my head at wonderment in such poor reporting and fact finding. Not only does this author have her facts wrong, the one link she provides to the FDA site specifically says MMA was not banned. Was there any attempt at all to verify what these “experts” told Ms. Angelle?

The opportunity to have your nail polish last more than 2 days, staying chip free and shiny for as long as two weeks without an “enhancement” application is an amazing stride in the professional nail industry.

The TV, newspaper, and web press received lately has kept professional, educated, licensed nail technicians not only busy at their table, but too often busy correcting gross mis-information such as presented here. In case you are interested, I am a licensed NY state Nail professional for 17 years and manage a 16 year old networking portal site for beauty professionals. I personally have responded to more than one of these mis-informed reports in the past 2 months.

>>Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned methyl methacrylate but they state on their website that “many nail products that contain potentially harmful ingredients are allowed on the market because they are safe when used as directed.”
>>One particularly dangerous ingredient,
a chemical called methyl methacrylate, can cause shortness of breath and irritate the eyes and skin.

FDA article: “No regulation specifically prohibits the use of methyl methacrylate monomer in cosmetic products.”

That is not to say MMA (methyl methacrylate) is good, indeed it is bad – bad for the consumer and bad for the nail technician. Almost every US state has instilled some variation of prohibiting or outright banning the product for use in the salon environment. MMA in other industries is used widely daily.

MMA is NOT safe for use in the salon environment. The product cures (dries) rock hard and can cause severe damage to the natural nail if the nail is banged or badly broken. The vapors (smell, fumes) and dust produced by MMA can cause a laundry list of mostly respiratory illnesses. Removal of MMA, even a preparation for a “fill-in” of the enhancement requires an electric file, which is often used with no proper education. This leads to damage of the nail plate, often piercing of the nail plate allowing chemicals to seep into the blood stream. When properly used, an electric file is no more dangerous than brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush. Further, MMA is NOT an issue in any gel product. The issue with MMA is in the acrylic liquid (monomer) when it is mixed with the acrylic powder for an acrylic enhancement application.

>>complaints that gel nails do still chip
well yes that can happen, improper application is the main cause, abusive use of nails would be another reason.

>>drowning one’s fingers in acetone
Absolutely not – if your nail technician is drowning your finger in a bowl of acetone, find another technician. Soaking in a bowl of acetone to remove nail products can be done safely with out harm.  The bowl need only contain enough acetone to cover the nails, not enough to go swimming in! Several technicians I know – and I know several thousand – use a cotton ball on the nail with acetone, wrapped in foil to minimize exposure of the acetone against the skin or nail. Either method of product removel is extremely safe and not harmful to the nails or the client – UNLESS the technician is removing MMA or other products that would be inpervious to acetone.

If the color selection is lacking, you need to find a technician who uses a different brand – 2 other brands are available as of today, a 3rd coming shortly – all major names in the nail game – these other 2 brands each have over 25 or more colors to choose from.

>>Avitzur concluded that the patient’s gel manicure had caused nerve damage.
Do you have any idea how many gel manicure, gel enhancement or acrylic enhancement applications are performed daily across the US and around the world? My personal guestimate would be 2,449,074  visit salons daily around the world (world population/2) * (1%) / (14)

>>Improper use or overuse of a nail file to prepare the nail for layers of gel can expose sensitive skin to chemicals or infection
This is one, if not the only correct information supplied in this article. Nail services should not be painful and should never draw blood. If either happen the consumer should leave and report the operator to the state agency that oversees their license.

>>mixing acrylic products with gel products
This is a perfectly acceptable application method when the products are applied by a properly trained, educated and licensed nail professional

>>This patient probably didn’t have a true gel manicure,” says Avitzur, “but I plan on avoiding them myself and would not recommend them to others at this point.”
As a matter of fact this is quite true to my knowledge. The woman did not have a “gel manicure, she had an acrylic enhancement with a possible gel topcoat. I saw the story on the evening news here in NY. The Dr stated she happened to have the same type of service done just days prior and said she found out it the salon exaggerated the service – both women were over charged, lied to and did not get what they thought they was paying for, neither got a quality service from a well trained professional.

>>The ultra-violet light used in tanning beds has been associated with increased skin cancer risk
To quote Douglas Schoon, internationally-recognized scientist, author and educator with over 30 years experience in the cosmetic, beauty and personal care industry. He is a leading industry authority, known for his technical and regulatory work that has helped shape the beauty industry. He is Co-Chair of the Nail Manufacturers Council (NMC), and as Creative Nail Design’s (CND) Chief Scientist, was head of the R&D laboratory, QA, and Field Testing/Evaluation departments for almost 20 years.
“..fluorescent lights office lights put out a tiny amount of UV light. Between UV nail related salon services, your clients will be exposed to more UV light from fluorescent bulbs in an office setting than during the salon service. If they go outdoors at all during the day, their UV exposure skyrockets. UV nail lamps are not significant source of UV exposure. To date, I’ve not seen any scientific evidence to the contrary and there is no credible scientific information that suggests these lamps are anything but safe. “

>>Another option may be to look for a salon that uses LED
This is not a catch-all answer. Gels must have been specifically formulated to cure (dry) under a LED lamp. If the product was not formulated to be used under a LED lamp, the natural nails could be damaged from the resulting exothermic reaction.

>>but does not require the same level of skill to apply as a gel. Moreover, the process of removing the polish minimizes exposure to acetone.
Just to be perfectly clear – CND’s new hybrid gel-polish is GEL mixed with traditional nail polish (lacquer) that CURES under a UV bulb lamp. Other brands with similar products are GEL mixed with pigment.
CND’s Shellac is deemed by the company to be PROFESSIONAL USE only. This means there is a level of skill and knowledge/training required to properly apply and remove the product. The “remover pads” CND sells with the system is a variation of the cotton ball/foil method nail technicians have been using for 15+ years which also minimizes exposure to acetone – which by the way is the safest chemical we use in the nail salon.


About ShelteredStitches

Webmaster, NY & VA Licensed Nail Specialist, sew'er/quilter
This entry was posted in Gel Nails, Truth or Fiction - Tune in at 6PM and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The REAL Truth About Gel Manicures

  1. Diana Nadanyi says:

    Also is it necessary to apply the bonding liquid to nail bed for liquid gel? It has ammonia in it.

    • I don’t know of any bonder or primer that has ammonia in it.. without the primer or bonder the product will not properly adhere.. please allow the technician to apply the product as suggested by the manufacturer for proper application and wear.

  2. Diana Nadanyi says:

    Why do my nails burn when put under the light?

  3. Auriana says:

    Hello, I know the dangers of MMA but know nothing about gel (just about to undertake my certificate). I would never buy acrylics from China, but what about Gel? Would these be safe to practise with on practise fingers (not actual clients)?
    Just wanting to know whether these Asia products (ie-eBay) are safe to use.

  4. All professional beauty supply houses and online stores will carry UV lamps. As a professional you should check with your supply house. As a consumer, I highly recommend you leave the professional products for us to use. We have been highly trained to work with these chemicals to avoid adverse recations and insure proper application.

  5. joanne says:

    where does one find an LED light to cure gel nails that is both effective, safe and reasonable in price? Only found some made in china and you have to buy a large quantity.

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