There is so much misinformation in the nail industry today about acrylic products being harmful to professionals and clients. Most, if not all, of this information is FALSE. But please, don't take my word for it, read for yourself! The information provided below was taken directly from Douglas Schoon's book, Nail Structure and Product Chemistry Second Edition. This information is backed up by science and research, the myths are not.


Douglas Schoon has over 30 years of scientific experience and a masters' degree in organic chemistry and is considered to be the leading research scientist in his field. His unique expertise focuses on the science of both natural and artificial nails. As co-chair of the Nail Manufacturer Council, he frequently represents the entire nail industry on scientific and technical issues in Europe, Canada, and the United States, and is often called upon to serve as an expert witness in legal cases involving cosmetic safety and health. 


Knowledge is power. To buy this book, please visit   www.cengagelearning.com





Myth:  Your nails can't breathe with acrylic enhancements.

Fact:  Nails don't breathe.  Your nail plate is made of approximately 100 layers of dead keratin cells.

Myth:  Acrylic liquids with leech into your bloodstream over time.

Fact:  Artificial nail products polymerize and harden within three minutes.  This eliminates the chance of any product penetrating beyond the very topmost layers of the nail plate.

Myth:  UV Gel is better for your nails

Fact:  The main ingredients use to make each of these (uv gels, liquid/powder combinations, wraps and no-light gels) are very closely related.  In fact, they all come from the same chemical family, the acrylics.  People don't realize that all artificial nail enhancements are based on ingredients from the acrylic family.


Some claim that UV gel enhancement products are "better" or "safer" for the natural nail than liquid/powder systems or wrap resin systems.  This is absolutely false!  In fact, it could be argued that UV gels are more damaging since they are more difficult to remove.  But remember, no type of artificial nail enhancement product is better for the natural nail or safer to use than others when properly applied by a trained professional.  Nor is it true that some enhancement products are more "natural" or chemically "organic".  These are bogus marketing claims designd to scare nail technicians away from competitive product.

Myth: You have to "rough up" the nail bed so that acrylic/gel will adhere to it.

Fact:  One of the most dangerous misconceptions in the professional salon industry is that products don't stick unless you "rough up the nail".  This is absolutely false and very harmful for clients as well as your business.  Nail adhesives and coatings always work better if the nail plate is clean and dry.  Roughing up the nail with heavy abrasives or electric files is one way to remove oils and dirt, but it is the wrong way!  Heavy abrasives strip off much of the natural nail plate, leaving it thin, weak and damaged.  When artificial nails are removed, clients will quickly discover the damage and thinning caused by overfiling.  Often, they will mistakenly assume this is proof that the nail enhancement products cause the nail to become thin.  Of course, this is a complete myth.

Myth: Acrylic is bad for you because it has a strong smell

Fact:  Nothing you can eat will make healthy nail plates become stronger than normal, but poor nutrition can certainly make them weaker.  To date, no conclusive scientific studies have linked vitamin supplements, gelatin drinks, or special foods to faster growth of healthy nails.

Myth: Eating more calcium and gelatin products will strengthen my nails.

Fact:  Many believe that "smelly" chemicals must be dangerous.  This is quite wrong!  A bad smell merely means that your brain does not like the odor.  It does not mean the chemical is more toxic or dangerous.

Myth: The extra weight of artificial nail enhancements makes the nail plate grow thinner.

Fact:  The length of the nail matrix determines the nail plate thickness.  The nail bed doesn't make keratin cells, so it can't affect the plate's thickness.  There is no way for the matrix to "feel" any extra weight on the nail bed.

Myth: Acid based primers are bad for nails.

Fact:  Acid based primers are corrosive to human SKIN.  If excessive amounts of methacrylic acid are used (ie: triple priming), the acid can seep through the nail plate and cause damage to the underlying bed.

Myth: Artificial nails can damage or eat the nail plate.

Fact:  It is a common misconception that artificial nail products "damage" or "eat" the nail plate.  Of course this is absolutely false!  Verify this for yourself by taking a small clipping of natural nail plate and placing it in a tightly capped bottle filled with monomer.  You can keep this bottle at your station and show it to anyone who believes that monomers damage the nail plate.  The same can be done with any of the products you use.  None will damage the natural nail, including primers.  Excessive amounts of methacrylic acid primers, especially on thinned nail plates, can seep through to the sensitive nail bed tissues and cause damage.


Nail products DO NOT DAMAGE NAILS -  nail technicians damage nails!  Improper application and improper prodcut removal cause most of the nail damage seen in salons.

Myth: Organic products are better for you.

Fact:  When it comes to chemicals, organic simply means that the chemical contains the element carbon in its structure.  All living things are organic.  Cow dung, poison ivy, and road tar are all 100 percent chemically organic and natrual too - but you wouldn't want your shampoo to contain them as ingredients.  "Natural" doesn't mean a product is safe, wholesome or better.  Actually, it could mean the opposite.  Natural ingredients in products require higher levels of preservatives because they are more susceptible to bacteria and spoiling.  Also, the quality and effectiveness of natural ingredients can vary dramatically from season to season and year to year.  Finally, most allergic reactions are caused by natural substances, such as pollen, poison ivy, cat danger, and so on.

Myth: You can't have nail enhancements when pregnant.

Fact:  There is absolutely no reason to believe that it is harmful to wear artificial nail enhancements or polish during pregnancy.  Artificial nail products polymerize and harden within three minutes.  This eliminates the chance of any product penetrating beyond the very topmost layers of the nail plate.  Besides, exposure during a service is miniscule.  It is extremely unlikely that artificial nails are harmful during pregnancy.


Pregnant nail technicians who don't work safely will need to make changes in their work routines.  In other words, pay close attention to the rules of safety once you learn about your pregnancy.  This will be true regardless of your occupation.  When you become pregnant, follow your doctors advice.  A well-informed physician will usually advise mothers-to-be to avoid alcohol and tobacco.  Studies have shown that these substances may cause abnormal fetal development.  Fortunately, scientific studies indicate there are no such ingredients in artificial nail products.  To put things in their proper perspective, smoking is many thousands of times more dangerous to a developing fetus.  To be on the safe side, show the MSDS sheets for all your products to your doctor.  And of course, make sure you follow the rules of working safely.

Myth: You need to give your nails a break and occasionally take your enhancements off.

Fact:  You are continually growing a new nail, so your natural nail is completely replaced every 3-6 months.  As your nails do not breathe, a rest is not needed.

From SCHOON. Nail Structure and Product Chemistry, 2E. © 2005 Delmar Learning, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc.

Reproduced by permission. www.cengage.com/permissions

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