How Cheaper Salons Keep Their Prices Down

What causes the prices in various salons to be so different?

“Cheap nails aren't nice and nice nails aren't cheap”. We've all heard it before but this doesn't just apply to how they look. Have you wondered what causes the prices in various salons to be so different?

EMA and MMA - two acronyms you want to be familiar with, but one significantly less familiar with - say ‘Hi’ to it as you walk on past but don't invite it to your next girls night! Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) is a type of acrylate based plastic, and it’s one you want to avoid.

MMA is found in monomer, or the liquid ingredient of Acrylic Nails. While it is true that it can also be found in the polymer (the powder), when it’s in powder form it’s a harmless co-polymer called Polymethyl Methacrylate. The molecules is Polymethyl Methacrylate are already polymerized and too large to evaporate or penetrate the skin.

MMA in liquid form is hazardous and has been identified as such since the 1970's.

MMA is harder than EMA when fully cured. It is also very difficult to file by hand, meaning many MMA technicians use an E-File or electric drill to refine the shape, which can be dangerous if done incorrectly.

The rigidity of MMA means it doesn't stick well to the nail plate and extra etching of the natural nail is required during preparation to make it extra rough. This can lead to the matrix (the birthplace of the nail plate) being damaged permanently and changing the way your nail grows from then on.

MMA is almost impossible to soak off, occasionally leading to a nasty party trick - popping off the enhancements with a nail tip. Popping off enhancements severely damages the natural nail plate that it is bonded to, making your natural nails thinner, weaker and in some cases causing permanent nail damage.

In its liquid form, MMA can be absorbed through our skin and cause allergic reactions. Symptoms include tingling, blisters and numbness.

“So”, you say, “why is it still in use?”. MMA is cheap. Methyl Methacrylate is 1/6th the price of the much safer Ethyl Methacrylate (EMA), so if the price of your appointment seems too good to be true, it probably is! Unfortunately for some salons, beating competitors on price outweighs safety factors.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Reputable salons take on higher cost prices to provide EMA-based services. Ethyl Methacrylate, chemically speaking, is only a few molecules different to its less friendly counterpart. However, it has far better adhesive properties so with a light buff to remove shine from the natural nail, EMA adheres. This means less intensive nail prep and in turn less thinning and therefore less damage to the natural nail. When Acrylic Nails are applied, maintained and removed correctly your nails should look exactly the same as they did before you had your nails done.

We as Nail Technicians want to enhance your nails, not replace them or destroy them. Covering up heinous crimes of nail plate torture is going to do more damage to you in the long run. When booking in for your next nail service, look out for the following tell tale signs –

The smell! All Monomer has a strong odour, but you should notice a significant different between MMA and EMA. MMA smacks you in the face as you walk past the salon doors.

Unmarked bottles – MMA is listed as a hazardous substance in New Zealand. While not illegal, it is commonly bought in larger quantities from overseas and decanted into smaller bottles at work stations. While decanting product is a safe, common practice for busy salons, the smaller bottles should be clearly labelled with EMA.

Price – EMA-based Monomer can cost upwards of $NZ200/Litre while MMA-based Monomer can cost as little as $NZ20/Litre. This of course affects the price of an appointment.

We are living in an age when we check the product labels of things we consume, and slowly we are becoming more aware of the things we are putting on our bodies as well. Many of you look for cruelty free or vegan makeup and body products, but presume nail appointments are a write-off. Reputable salons and Nail Technicians will have your best interests at heart. We LOVE your nails and we love and stand by our products, even if they do cost a little extra. Now that you know how to read a food label and check for cruelty-free makeup, become an educated Mani devotee, and tell your friends!

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