Why is MMA suitable for use in nail powder (polymer) and not suitable for use in nail liquid (monomer)?


It is common knowledge that Methyl Methacrylate, otherwise know as MMA, has been prohibited for use in the nail industry since the mid 1970’s. More specifically the use of MMA is only prohibited for use in nail liquids. What you may not realize is that MMA is NOT prohibited for use in nail powders, meaning it is a perfectly safe and common ingredient in the polymers you are using, you just might not realize it.

So the question is: Why is MMA suitable for use in nail powder (polymer) and not suitable for use in nail liquid (monomer)?

MMA Monomers

Today in the nail Industry, Ethyl Methacrylate, or EMA is the backbone monomer in most acrylic nail liquids. The use of EMA as a substitute for MMA in monomer came about in the late 1970’s when the FDA banned the use of MMA. Nail liquid containing MMA has been known to cause allergic reactions, permanent loss of the nail plate and in some cases, permanent loss of sensation in the fingertips.

MMA Polymers

In the manufacturing process, all polymer powders start off as monomers.  Usually two types (or more – depending on the manufacturer) of monomers are commonly used to make polymers; one of which is MMA.

These monomers are mixed together with initiators, dispersing agents, catalysts, and water to make a polymer.  This combination is mixed and continually stirred while it is heated to very high temperatures. After several hours, the monomers become solid little beads and float on the surface of the water. The beads are strained from the water and rinsed several times.  They are then dried, and sifted to remove the biggest and smallest particles.

Once the ingredients are mixed and heated, and the monomers have become solid; the MMA is no longer active.  As a matter of fact, this new solid has a completely different name: PMMA (poly methyl methacrylate) and is considered perfectly safe to use on natural nails.

So when you see PMMA on the ingredient listing of your nail powders, you can now say you know it is perfectly safe to use. The MMA had to go through quite a journey to be perfectly safe for use on nails!