Don't Let Your Manicurist File Down Your Nerve Function

Consumer Reports Health medical adviser Orly Avitzur, M.D. has both a medical practice and a lovely set of manicured nails. It’s this combination that gave her unique insight into the possible problems with manicures that are purportedly fancy “gel manicures,” but are actually something else more dangerous entirely.

And there are plenty of other chemicals to be concerned about. A US Environmental Protection Agency guide, produced to warn nail salon workers, indicates twenty chemicals found in nail glue, polish, hardeners, additives, powders or removers. A medical literature search shows that, in general, several of them—ethyl cyanoacrylate, formalin, toluene, and MMA—have been shown to induce neuropathy and can cause one or more of the following: irritation of the eyes, skin, mucous membranes, respiratory tract, or damage the kidneys or liver.

Ten warning signs to watch out for:

  • Your salon uses bottles in unmarked containers
  • The technician cannot tell you what’s in the products
  • The products smell unusually strong or have a strange odor
  • Your skin is being abraded or cut
  • The salon is not clean
  • The instruments are not sterilized
  • Licenses for the salon and individual operators are not visibly posted
  • Your skin or nails hurt
  • The gels do not soak off easily in solvents designed to remove acrylics
  • You see swelling, redness or other signs of infection

Manicures: The price may be higher than it seems [Consumer Reports Health]