MMA, the FDA and Your Safety

MMA, the FDA and Your Safety

Methyl Methacrylate popularly known as MMA in the beauty industry is a monomer liquid used by nail technicians for the purpose of creating nail enhancements. Those of you who are already a part of the salon and beauty world must be aware that MMA was banned by the FDA in the late 70’s due to some of its damaging properties. Even if you are not a nail tech, you must have heard about MMA through friends and the media.

Though aware that the FDA has banned MMA, many nail techs are not aware as to why its usage is not allowed for nail enhancements. They just take it for granted that it is poisonous and may affect the skin with an adverse reaction. This is not the case as MMA is not toxic but simply unsuitable for nail enhancements.

The reasons are:

·         MMA, when applied does not stick easily to the tough nail plate. The nail tech as a result has to over file or at times shred the nail surface making the nail structure weak and susceptible to injuries.

·         Once applied, MMA hardens to such an extent that it becomes very difficult to separate it from the nail plate. Removers also do not work when you want the MMA enhancement to go. As a result the product has to be pried from the nail plate. This method can easily damage the nail bed and injure the surrounding skin.

·         MMA is unbreakable once fixed, to the extent that it has to be pried from the nail plate for removal. If your MMA enhancement gets caught in something like a door for example, the result will be the coming off of the entire nail plate, as it has already been thinned and filed to fix in the MMA enhancement.

·         The FDA also ruled that MMA caused serious fingernail damage, contact dermatitis (allergic reactions) and deformity. Enough reasons for you to stop using MMA.


The nail manufacturers’ council and the American Beauty Association, including leading nail magazines have taken a stand against MMA, though its usage is acceptable in the dental and other fields.


Though aware of its destructive properties, when used as a nail enhancement many salons continue to use MMA even today. This is probably because it is a cheaper alternative to the recommended Ethyl Methaacrylate or EMA.


EMA has a slightly different molecular structure than MMA but it is highly recommended as a nail enhancement product, especially because it does not damage the nails. The larger molecular structure of EMA makes it ideal for use in the salons as it does not easily penetrate the nail and damage the skin and tissues.


So the next time you walk into a salon for nail enhancements make sure that the nail tech is not using MMA as your enhancement. You can tell an MMA enhancement by its very strong and distinctive odor, by the difficulty the nail tech faces in filing the product or the presence of unlabeled bottles to avoid showing the brand used. The enhancement will also be very difficult to come off when soaked in an acrylic remover and will turn cloudy when cured.


If you are a nail tech, do not use MMA as it will not only damage client nails but also your reputation in the long run.