MMA Acrylic - The North American wide Nail Salon scam you NEED to be in the know about!

So, let's have a talk about MMA acrylic. MMA Acrylic is the worst problem in the nail industry. It is harmful, toxic, painful - and the worst part is that most people do not even know it is being put on them! ***FYI this is in any acrylic you buy from wish or aliexpress. Often, non standard nail salons (or not as politely, chop shops) are common in most cities, and as consumers we think that if a nail shop is open and has customers, it must at least be half decent but that is not often the case. Later on in this post after I explain MMA acrylic I'm going to show you photos of a client I removed an MMA set from. She unfortunately lost her whole nail and damaged her nail bed when the nail ripped off. MMA is too hard to be attached to the nail plate and this is a common problem with it, and depending how your nail rips off you may be left with damage that will be there permanently.Trigger warning as you scroll down if you are sensitive, I do show my client's finger but this photo was taken two weeks post incident of it ripping off and shows no blood or gore.

Exposure to MMA can cause:

- General Irritation
- Vomiting and stomach irriation
- Redness and Swelling
- Skin Sensitisation (tingling or numbness)
- Respiratory problems or eye, nose and throat irritation
- Fungal or bacterial infections
- Discolouration of the nails (yellowing)
- Nail damage or deformities

A little bit of History

Back in the early 1970’s the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began receiving complaints about injuries caused by nail products containing Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). They began investigating these complaints of fingernail damage and deformity as well as dermatitis. After lots of research and many discussions with medical experts, the FDA filed several lawsuits and injunctions against companies in the US. The FDA made it clear to the public that MMA was not to be used in nail products. Despite internet rumours, MMA is not completely banned in the US (read about nail products from the FDA site). It is however banned by over 30 states in the US that chose to take action themselves. It is also banned in Canada and New Zealand. MMA is used in dentistry and bone replacement, and it is Ok to be used in that sense. It is never OK to be used cosmetically on your nails.

What to be on the lookout for?

- Unusually low prices – MMA costs about a quarter of the price of EMA and is found in discount salons, although you can often find salons charging similar to what a real and proper salon would
- Nail Technicians wearing masks – certainly not an immediate indication of MMA use (one of our employees wears a mask), but all the clues will start to add up
- Vague description of brand and products – unlabelled containers and technicians who won’t (or can’t) tell you what they are using
- Much stronger odour – acrylic nails do tend to have a distinctive odour, but MMA has a much stronger and unpleasant fruity odour
- The acrylic nail turns yellow over time - normal with EMA acrylic but it will be more evident with MMA
- Electric files used on the natural nail – very dangerous and a big warning sign
- Salons are often in malls and strip malls, with a very bare bones feel and very little decor
- The acrylic nail is very hard and not flexible
- You are told you are getting gel nails, but they are done with a liquid on a brush dipped into a powder that then melts into a gel like substance (this is always acrylic)

These nails are on a long time client, done at another salon, done with MMA. She is one that I've tried everything with and never had any luck getting anything to stay on no matter what we did. She went w some friends to the local "chop shop" and got these done for a few months. She knew the risks but just wanted long pretty nails, and I can't blame her! So anyways. Here we are a few months later. She was helping her brother move and a tv stand fell on her nail. Instead of breaking like safe enhancements usually do, the MMA ripped her entire fingernail off the nail bed. Thankfully, her matrix was not damaged and since her nail has begun to grow out normally.

I offered to remove these for her, because the shop she had them done at would have just pried them off, even though I typiclly won't work with or remove any MMA enhancements. Unfortunately because of the time it takes to remove MMA the salons that put it on will never properly remove it, and instead just pry it off for the most part. The thing w MMA Is that it is soooo hard, and they file half of your nail off to bond it, so the enhancements are literally etched into your nail plate. These nails are also too long to be structurally sound because the length of them is more than double the size of her nail bed, there will be very little strength provided to the enhancement.

You can also see filings in my hand - they are all curled up and hard as rocks and sharp like plastic once they have hardened again after being buffed off the nail. Real and safe MMA acrylic does not get gummy, it gets flaky.

This stuff is TOXIC in liquid form and dangerous because of how hard it is. You're basically fusing plexiglass to a very thin structure with delicate flesh and nerve endings underneath of it. You can see in a few photos bruises in her nail beds and nail plate where she has obviously hit the nails hard but they didn't come off, they just bruised. You can also see a "ring of fire" like the rings of a tree stump from every fill - the redness is damage from over filing. In the photos above the red/black lines in her nails are bruises.

You'll notice in the short video how gummy the nails are after soaking - this is how you can identify MMA - EMA aka safe acrylic flakes off in acetone like gel polish

So in conclusion, please be on the look out for this nail scam! Gel nails are NEVER done with a powder and a liquid. Solar nails is a brand and not a real service. An electric file should never be used on the natural nails unless by a trained technician using it to prep the nail in a SAFE and NON painful way. If you are ever cut and bleeding, your nails burning, or your nails sore after a service DO NOT GO BACK. Nails should not hurt to be put on, it can be a mildy odd or uncomfortable sensation getting your nails done but it should never be out and out painful. You can't get great nails in 45 minutes, good things take time. Proper nails take a lot of work, and cost more than nails in these NSS salons but you will not be putting yourself at risk. This product is extremely frustrating to proper nail techs like myself who really value what we do - this issue is unfortunately so widespread and the general consumer has no idea. Please share this post with anyone you know who gets their nails done!


  1. i absolutely love the time you took to present this post and all extremely accurate ,, well done , very well done ,,,, my only wish is you would make the text ,, a bit larger and in more bold of a type font ,, im 60 yrs old have been in this industy for more then 40 yrs ,,, ive seen it all from loss of a nail to loss of life ,,, and your post is extremely importent , but its very difficult to read in a computer only due to the font size ,

    1. Hold down CTRL and then hit + and the font size will increase. Works on all pages.

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