Why is MMA Suitable for Use in Nail Powder (Polymer) but NOT Nail Liquid (Monomer)?

Reputable nail products and manufacturers are required to list ingredients on the packaging. The ingredient list can be pretty daunting and confusing to read for anyone, especially when it comes to the legalities of specific ingredients and knowing whether they are safe to use.

Why is MMA not recommended for use on nails?

MMA has a strong, irritating chemical odor that does NOT smell like other acrylic liquids. The product sets much harder, feels less flexible, and is very difficult to file using a nail file. MMA acrylic nails are going to be extremely hard or nearly impossible to remove using normal solvents. 

It is common industry knowledge that MMA (Methyl Methacrylate) has been prohibited since the 1970s. The use of MMA is only prohibited for use in nail liquids, but NOT prohibited in nail powders. But why is this?

MMA Monomers (liquids)

EMA in monomers is only acceptable since MMA causes allergic reactions, permanent loss of the nail plate, and in some cases, permanent loss of sensation in the fingertips. EMA monomers are safe, MMA monomers are unsafe. 

MMA Polymers (powders)

In the manufacturing process, every single polymer powder starts off as a monomer.  Usually, two types (or more – depending on the manufacturer) of monomers are commonly used to make polymers; one of which is MMA. 

How are MMA Polymers created to make PMMA and why is it safe?

A combination is then concocted and mixed with initiators, dispersing agents, catalysts, and water to create a polymer. The mixture is then continuously stirred while heated at extremely high temperatures. After numerous hours, the monomers become solid little beads and float on the surface of the water. The beads are then strained and rinsed many times. Then dried, and sifted to remove the biggest and smallest particles. After the ingredients are mixed and heated, and the monomers have become solid, the MMA is no longer active. The new solid has a completely different name, called PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate), considered perfectly safe to use on natural nails. 

If you see PMMA on the ingredients list of your nail powder, you can now say you know it is perfectly safe to use. The MMA traveled a long way to get to this safe state for use on acrylic nails.

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