Photo: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images
Getting those great new acrylic nails is something of a trial, especially when dealing with the toxic chemicals of the primer. Methacrylic acid, also referred to as MAA, is the most common chemical used in primers, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which requires childproof caps on the product because it is so dangerous. Primer is an important step before attaching acrylic nails. You need to rid your natural nail surface of oils, debris and anything else that could interfere with the adhesion of the new nails. Primers, however, play havoc with the skin surrounding your nails and eventually can weaken the nail bed. Many nail primers are tantamount to dipping your fingers in acetone -- so toxic nail technicians wear face masks so they don’t have to breathe the fumes. But as with most cosmetics, some are better than others.
Bio Sculpture Gel
Bio Sculpture Gel is an all-in-one acrylic nail system that achieves results without use of a primer and associated harmful chemicals that can range from formaldehyde to parabens. "Cosmopolitan" beauty and fashion editor Dawn Davis tried Bio Sculpture Gel nails on her toes and wrote that she was pleased with the results, which can last up to three months. Technicians don’t even wear masks when preparing your nails for acrylic applications. The gel is set under UV lights and can help nourish your nail bed while cleaning it of impurities.
Eco Calcium Gel
One of the biggest problems with nail primer, in addition to the corrosive chemicals your nails are being exposed to, is the overflow that often occurs when the primer is applied. According to "Nails Magazine," gel in an applicator that resembles a felt-tip pen is ideal for minimizing accidents. The gel pen still contains methacrylic acid, but it’s used in a more controlled environment and has less chance of becoming contaminated.
No Lift Nails
The primer made by No Lift Nails out of Huntington Beach, California, is one of the most popular in the industry, according to "Nails Magazine." The company has been serving the nail industry for decades and continues to work with chemists and nail professionals to improve the safety of its products. The owner of No Lift Nails, Larry Gaertner, was interviewed by "Nails Magazine" and said he thinks using a primer instead of filing nails to infinity is still the best choice for preparing nails for acrylic applications. The trick is to use as few layers of primer as possible to achieve the grooved effect you need for the acrylics to adhere properly.
Because of the extensive damage corrosive primers do to your nails and the skin on your fingers, never mind the damage it creates when you spill it or inhale too much, many nail technicians are opting for a primerless application such as Retention+. According to "Nails Magazine," Retention+, manufactured by Creative Nail Design, came about as a result of hundreds of horror stories from clients using acid-based primers. You take less of a risk, the company says, when you opt for acrylic nails with a built-in primer of sorts. Retention+ is one of the better choices on the market to get the same sticking power you expect after using primer.