Nail Salon FAQs (cont.)
What about nail salon safety?
Under these requirements, salons providing nail services usually must meet certain requirements, such as:
To help you decide if a salon provides sanitary nail services, nail and public health experts suggest considering the following:
Allergies and Other Hazards
Certain nail ingredients are known for their tendency to cause allergic reactions. Residual traces of the basic building blocks of acrylic resins ("acrylics") used in artificial nails, for example, can cause redness, swelling and pain in the nail bed. In some cases, the reaction is so severe that the natural nail separates from the nail bed, and although a new nail usually grows in, it may be imperfect if the nail root has been damaged.
Nail strengtheners that contain "free formaldehyde" may cause an irritation or reaction, as can certain other chemicals in nail glues and polishes.
In the late 1970s, use of methyl methacrylate, then a common ingredient in artificial nail products, resulted in FDA receiving a number of reports of injuries and allergic reactions, including damage and deformity of fingernails and contact dermatitis. The ingredient now is rarely used because of legal action against a former manufacturer of methyl methacrylate-containing products and numerous seizures and recalls of such products. Methyl methacrylate has since been replaced with other chemicals, such as ethyl methacrylate. However, according to John Bailey, Ph.D., acting director of FDA's Office of Cosmetics and Colors, the replacement chemicals have never been fully studied for safety, and they may be as harmful as methyl methacrylate.
"Our current guidance is that products containing ethyl methacrylate should be used only by trained nail technicians under conditions that minimize exposure and skin contact because of their potential to cause allergies," he said.
Whatever the cause, allergic reactions usually take place where the product has been applied or where it has inadvertently come in contact with other skin surfaces, such as the face, eyelids and neck. When the offending agent is no longer used, reactions clear up. Sometimes, the user can identify the chemical causing the allergic reaction and avoid it.
Though rare, some nail products can cause illness and even death, particularly if ingested by children. The Consumer Product Safety Commission requires household glue removers containing more than 500 milligrams of acetonitrile in a single container to carry child-resistant packaging. This includes glue removers for artificial nails.
Nail products also can be dangerous if they get in the eyes. And they can easily catch on fire if exposed to the free flame of the pilot light of a stove, a lit cigarette, or even the heating element of a curling iron.
Consumers should read labels of nail products carefully and heed any warnings.
For additional information, please visit the following MedicineNet.com areas:
Portions of the above information has been provided with the kind permission of the FDA (www.fda.gov).
Last Editorial Review: 7/7/2004