CIDESCO, the world standard for Beauty and Spa Therapy, discusses the use of Methyl Methacrylate in salons… 


The use of Methyl Methacrylate in Australian salons has long been the subject of serious debate in the beauty industry – some demonise the use of the chemical while others argue it can be used safely. In a recent article on the importance of product safety, CIDESCO has made their stance on the issue abundantly clear.

Methyl Methacrylate (MMA)

MMA is a chemical used not only in the beauty industry, but also in dentistry and medicine, and although it has been banned in the US by the FDA, it is still being used is salons around the world including Australia. According to CIDESCO, this is something that needs to change.

Concerns with MMA

“MMA does not dissolve in acetone and is therefore difficult to remove. The nails are either pried off the natural nail or electric drills are used for removal. MMA products tend to discolour and become brittle, leading to severe nail damage,” says CIDESCO lecturer, Amanda Schooling.

MMA can absorb into the skin risking severe allergic reactions

“MMA products do not adhere well to the nail plate, causing thinning and weakening of the nail and MMA has a small molecular size and therefore can absorb into the skin risking severe allergic reactions”.

The alternative

While CIDESCO advises MMA should be avoided during manicures, “Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA) is safe for use on natural nails and far less likely to cause allergic reactions,” says Schooling.

EMA is far less likely to cause allergic reactions

Keep in mind that like many salon chemicals, prolonged or repeated contact can lead to irritation or an allergic reaction.

To help prevent this occurrence “the product is applied on to the nail and not the surrounding skin, and to prevent inhalation, the salon must be a well-ventilated area”, explains Schooling

Education is key

Schooling emphasises “quality education is vital for a nail technologist. They must be aware of the chemical structure of the product they have chosen to work with. Proper training and the teaching of safe and hygienic work practices will help prevent overexposure from products.”

What should salons do?

Salon safety is not only important for nail technicians and clients, but it also presents a positive salon image. There are some simple, but effective steps you can take to keep your salon safe:

  • Ensure nail technicians are qualified and well trained
  • Sterilise all tools after each client
  • Replace non-sterilisable tools after each client
  • Clean manicure station after each client
  • Keep salon is well ventilated
  • Make informed product choices
  • Stay up to date on industry developments

For further information about CIDESCO visit

Have your say: Do you think MMA should be banned in Australian salons?

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  1. Unfortunately this story just goes to show how terribly out of touch PB is with the nail industry in Australia. MMA was banned in Australia eight years ago via a change to the SUSDP ( now the SUSMP). I’m left to just shake my head while your article suggests that “others argue it can be used safely ” . Clearly these “others” are aliens or nail techs visiting from 1985.

    1. Hi Ray,

      Unfortunately this is not the case, according to the Australian Department of health, MMA is still in widespread use in salons:

      ‘Methyl methacrylate (MMA) is a bonding agent used in artificial nail products. It is present in nail preparations used in and beauty salons throughout Australia. Nail kits sold at retail outlets may also contain the chemical. MMA is not a banned substance in Australia because MMA can be used safely.However, it is important that employers, employees and customers are aware of the health risks associated with this product.’

      The Australian Government’s environmental department also states: ‘For methyl methacrylate, it is allowable for workers to be exposed to concentrations of 100 parts per million over an eight hour workshift.’

      1. Hi PB
        I’m sorry you are right and you are wrong.
        You are right in asserting that MMA use is widespread in Australia and this is the result of poor compliance enforcement of the current legislation.

        The data you cite regarding allowable vapour concentrations is likely from SafeWork Australia guidelines and relates to standards set for MMA in situations where it is still an allowable resource e.g dental prosthetics

        However you are wrong in asserting that MMA is not banned for cosmetic use in Australia. I would refer you to the current SUSMP ( which anyone can download for free here )

        If you look at Schedule 10 of that document which is a list of


        you will see that MMA is listed there like this:

        “METHYL METHACRYLATE for cosmetic use except in preparations containing 1 per cent or less of methyl
        methacrylate as residual monomer in a polymer except when in Schedule 6.”

        The exception made for preparations that contain less than 1% MMA was made simply so that small amounts of residual MMA monomer left in the production of EMA/MMA polymers would not lead to them being banned for cosmetic use. The SUSMP actually also states that attempts to incorporate small amounts of MMA into monomers at 1% or less is also in contravention of the SUSMP regulations.

        I will reassert my original claim and that is that MMA is in fact banned for cosmetic use here in Australia and that this was a decision made in 2007 which you review at this document listed on TGA archives.

  2. MMA is still used in what I call chop shops, these nail bars or nail salons give us qualified nail techs a bad rap. I have spent thousands of dollars in training and keeping up to date in the 20 plus years I’ve been the industry. Only to be told again & again that acrylics have damaged my nails, when in fact it is the use of products containing MMA & the unqualified nail techs in the chop shops. Or I have been told that it is normal for nails to hurt when having their nails done. I for one would love all products used in nail salons to be MMA free and for all people working in the industry to be fully qualified.

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