Is your manicure safe?
The manicure is being updated with longer-lasting polishes and strengthening treatments. But are these new developments safe?By Diane Peters
With new trends in nails, consumers are revisiting concerns about safety. Some polish manufacturers make a point of stating that their formulations do not contain certain ingredients—for example, toluene, a liquid solvent. But you wouldn’t see that ingredient today anyway, since it has been linked to air pollution. And DBP, a plasticizer, was phased out years ago, says Doug Schoon, a California chemist who consults to the nail care industry.
What about the dangers of UV exposure during drying? A 2009 published report from the University of Texas observed two women who had been exposed to nail salon UV lamps (one of the women, twice a month for 15 years; the other, eight times in one year) and had skin cancer on the back of their hands. However, Schoon claims, the strongest UV lamps give clients the equivalent of 2.7 minutes per day of time in the sun. “Driving around and buying your latte, you’ll get more UV exposure.”
Of course, you should always ask at your salon if they disinfect their tools sufficiently, so you are not at risk for bacterial and fungal infections. But also be wary of too-good-to-be-true prices for a set of acrylic nails—$35, instead of $50 or more. It might indicate use of the bonding liquid methyl methacrylate (MMA), which is much cheaper than the alternative ethyl methacrylate. Industry observers say MMA is still being widely used for traditional acrylic nails. It’s such a powerful adhesive, a technician must aggressively file your nail to get it off. In Hunter’s opinion, “that’s a threat to consumers. On a weekly basis, women are getting damaged nails and infections.”