Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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South Dakota Cosmetology Commission

Warning About Use of MMA in Nail Salons

The South Dakota Cosmetology Commission advises consumers to beware of the possible illegal use of liquid Methyl Methacrylate Monomers (MMA) in nail salons. Allen R. Halper of the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Cosmetics and Colors has stated the FDA considers MMA "to be a poisonous and deleterious substance" and may take regulatory action against nail products containing MMA and may take legal action against those involved.

MMA is used to create the long artificial nails (enhancements) that are popular today. But, MMA is a danger to both the client and licensed cosmetologist/nail technician. Serious adverse skin reactions and permanent nail deformities are only part of the risks of using MMA. Long term use of MMA may lead to permanent damage to the respiratory system. Sometimes, those who apply these products wear dust masks hoping to obtain some protection. Although these masks are a great way to lower exposure to dusts and filings, they provide absolutely no protection from MMA vapors.

Also, MMA creates nail enhancements that are too rigid for the natural nail plate. MMA enhancements resist breaking if accidentally caught or jammed. This often leads to painful breakage of the nail plate near the cuticle that may result in severe infections.

How can you tell if MMA is being used?

Ask your cosmetologist or nail technician if they are using MMA and check the label of the nail product being used. If the label does not contain that information, there are three simple things to watch for: 1) unusually strong or strange odor which doesn't smell like other acrylic liquids; 2) enhancements that are extremely hard and very difficult to file, even with coarse abrasives; and 3) enhancements that will not soak off in solvents designed to remove acrylics.

What to do if you suspect MMA is being used

The South Dakota Cosmetology Commission does not allow the use of liquid MMA. If you think that MMA is being used in a salon, please contact the South Dakota Cosmetology Commission.