Dangers & Effects of Acrylic Nails- Can it Cause Cancer

Health Risks and Side Effects of Acrylic Nails- Can it Cause Cancer
Health Risks and Side Effects of Acrylic Nails- Can it Cause Cancer

Acrylic nails have a reputation for not being the safest form of manicure. But do they deserve this bad reputation?

In this article we will discuss:

  • The potential health hazards of acrylic nails
  • Tips to Make Acrylic Application Safer
  • Acrylic nails and Cancer
  • Safer Alternatives to acrylic nails

Dangers of Acrylic Nails

Most of the health hazards from acrylic nails can easily be prevented usually by using safe products, wearing masks, and avoiding getting acrylic nails done too frequently.

But when you don’t take enough precautions, acrylic nails can in the long term lead to a higher risk of developing:

  1. Contact Dermatitis / Allergic Reaction – Usually from years of exposure to acrylic or by using MMA products
  2. Nail Damage – Due to over filing and exposure to harsh chemicals
  3. Nail and Skin Infection – This occurs when tools are not sterilized properly or when the acrylic nails start to lift.
  4. Asthma – from frequent inhalation of acrylic dust during the removal process.

Now in the short term, the health effects of getting acrylic nails will vary depending on the cause.

Are you pregnant or breastfeeding and thinking of getting acrylic then you need to read my article Are Acrylic Nails Safe When Pregnant -Debate For & Against

1- Lead to Contact Dermatitis

Even if you are not allergic to acrylic nails frequent exposure to the acrylic liquid can over time lead you to develop contact dermatitis which is a form of allergy to acrylic products.

Contact dermatitis usually occurs when you use acrylic liquid that contains Methyl Methacrylate (MMA) or when you constantly get the acrylic liquid on your skin and nails.

I have an entire article on Allergic Reactions to Acrylic Nails and How to Spot & Treat these Reactions, click here to learn more.

2- Nail Damage

Acrylic nails can greatly weaken your nails. This usually happens due to over-filing, the use of harsh nail primers, or improper removal of the acrylic nails.

This has happened to me several times and it can lead your nails to become very thin and brittle. The best way to prevent this from happening is to:

I have an entire article on How Acrylic Ruin Your Nails & Tips to Prevent Damages, click here to read.

3- Nail & Skin Infection

Acrylic Nails can cause you to develop a nail and skin infection. This usually occurs when the tools such as the cuticle pusher or nail file were not sterilized correctly.

Nail infection can damage your nails, slow their growth and be very painful.

Related Article – Acrylic Nails turn Yellow or Brown: Causes & How to Fix

4- Asthma

When removing acrylic nails a lot of dust is produced. Now constantly inhaling this dust can lead to the development of asthma. Citation.

To prevent this from occurring I always wear a mask. And you should go to nail salons that have dust vents at their manicure table to suck up any dust.

I also prefer using odorless monomer which produces less acrylic fumes, click here to learn more.

Related Article – Why you can’t Substitute Liquid Monomer with Acrylic nails

Can Acrylic Nails Cause Cancer

There have been no studies or reports to show that acrylic nails can increase the risk of developing cancer.

And most experts tend to agree that once safe products are used and proper precautions are followed then getting acrylic nails will not cause any severe long-term illnesses like cancer.

Now there are certain chemicals found in some nail products that can increase the chances of getting cancer. So you need to read your labels and check for:

  1. Formaldehyde
  2. Toluene
  3. Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)
  4. Benzene

Avoid these chemicals as much as possible. I usually use nail polishes that are 5- Free meaning they don’t contain these toxic ingredients.

Related Article – What is Acrylic Monomer- Best Brands to Use & Side Effects

Can Acrylic Fumes Damage Your Lungs

Inhaling acrylic fumes in large amounts is not safe for your lungs and your overall health.

In the short term inhaling a lot of acrylic fumes can cause burning in your throat. Whilst in the long run it can potentially cause health issues like asthma.

This is why it is important they you wear a mask and use salons that are well ventilated.

Safety Tips to Follow When Getting Acrylic Nails

  1. Wear a mask during the application and removal of your acrylic nails.
  2. Go to salons that are well ventilated
  3. Avoid using acrylic liquid containing MMA – ask your nail tech what monomer they use & read your labels. Check for monomer with EMA.
  4. Use products that are from reputable brands
  5. Go to salons that are registered and that follow guidelines on sanitation.
  6. Sterilize your tools
  7. Take regular breaks from acrylic nails – go natural or wear press-on nails with nail tabs.

Dangers of Using Acrylic Products with MMA

Avoid using acrylic monomers that contain Methyl Methacrylate (MMA). MMA has some serious side effects and is banned in many countries. This is because MMA:

  • Increases the risks of developing severe contact dermatitis
  • Damages to your nails
  • Can damage your lungs and lead to respiratory problems
  • Eye, Nose, and Throat irritation.
  • Loss of feeling in your fingertips.

Recommended Acrylic Monomer

My favorite monomer to use is Young Nails – its MMA free and has low odor profile. It is a bit more pricey but I think it’s worth it. Click here to see the price for a bottle on Amazon.

Safer Alternatives to Acrylic Nails

They are many alternatives to acrylic my 2 favorites are Dip Powder and Press on Nails. Both of which will be safer for your health and easier to DIY.

You can click here to learn more about Dip Powder vs Acrylic Nails: Difference & Which is Better

And click here to read about Press on Nails Vs Acrylic: Differences & Which is Better.

Also for more alternatives to acrylic nails click here.


Formaldehyde and Cancer Risk

Nail Care Products FDA

DBP – Health Risks

MMA Health Risks

Health Risks of Benzene