Who doesn’t love getting their nails done? Whether it’s a manicure or pedicure, sitting in a nail salon getting pampered is one of our favorite ways to relax and indulge. But how do you know if a nail salon is safe and clean before you book your appointment or stop in? We sat down with Vivian Xue, CEO and Founder of Pamper Nail Gallery to find out her tips and tricks for staying clean and healthy while you’re pampered.  

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Answers from Vivian Xue, CEO and Founder of Pamper Nail Gallery


How can consumers monitor safe practices at their local nail salon?

Observe the salon’s hygiene practices and ask how often they clean their implements. Hygienic salons will always use a set of freshly sanitized and sealed implements (nippers, pusher, clippers) for each service. Implement pouches should be opened in front of you. If the salon grabs these implements from containers (even if they are labeled “clean/sanitized”), it’s likely the implements were not sanitized exclusively for your use. Hygienic salons will never reuse files, buffers, pumices, and other disposable items. Avoid salons that wash and reuse their files. Be extremely wary of salons that do not turn away clients with fungal infections. Fungal infections and even bacterial infections of the nail can easily spread through contact.


Can you explain the difference between types of acrylic and substances like MMA?

There is only one type of acrylic, and it comes in all kinds of colors – from clear to every color in the rainbow and beyond. Acrylic consists of a polymer powder and a monomer liquid. In the case of nails, salons should be using a monomer liquid called EMA, not the FDA-banned MMA.


MMA originated in the dental industry for making crowns and bridges, and it is also used as bone cement by orthopedic surgeons during joint replacement procedures. Both EMA and MMA liquids look exactly the same–they are purple tinted and don’t smell great. Acrylic has caught a bad reputation, due to the usage of MMA. Ask the salon what acrylic system is used and do research to ensure it is a reputable brand.


Why MMA is bad for nails:

  1. MMA doesn’t bond to natural nails well, so the nail tech is forced to etch deep grooves in the nail bed to make sure the acrylics don’t “pop off”.
  2. MMA is bone cement, so when it actually sets, it’s much harder to remove from the natural nail than EMA, and may cause damage to the nail during the removal process.
  3. Per the FDA, it causes adverse skin reactions. Unusually high amounts of women were developing allergies to acrylic by way of excessive exposure to MMA. This includes skin rashes, blistering, and other symptoms.


What recommendations do you have for consumers who want to make sure their nail

salons are safe environments?

Ask questions before your first visit and gather as much information as possible. Supply costs can be quite high in order to run a hygienic salon. Be wary of discount salons. You get what you pay for and low priced salons are extremely likely to be cutting corners on supply costs by reusing implements, files, or using MMA instead of EMA. Be wary of extremely fast services as well. Properly removing acrylics or gels can take a lot longer than just ripping them off natural nail beds. If the salon does express removals, it’s a red flag that the health of your natural nails is not a priority to them.

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