Acetone Safety


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Jan 11, 2003
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Daventry, Northants (UK)
In this day and age when there are so many "experts" telling us which is the best product to use etc. How do we know who to believe. I would expect to be able to believe scientists.

There has been an interesting conversation going on, on another board recently about products being "organic" hence being better - or not as the case may be. and also whether soaking in acetone is a good thing or a bad thing.

I replied to one of the messages quoting Dough Schoon as follows:

2. "Is acetone safe" Why do so many nail technicians avoid acetone?
Probably because they have heard one of the many untrue myths about
this beneficial substance. What is the truth about acetone? Acetone
is one of the most important solvents in the world. Except for water
itself, acetone is the safest solvent that nail technicians use!

"Will acetone dry out and damage the natural nail?" - Acetone can
absorb some water from the natural nail plate, but so will the non
acetone solvents. However, this is not an important issue. Normal
moisture levels are restored quickly. This temporary drying causes
no damage to the nail plate. In fact, pure acetone will clean the
nail plate and improve product adhesion.

The reply came back quoting another chemical expert as follows:

"ACETONE dries the nail bed and cuticles, making them brittle and rough,
causing them to flake and peel," says Bruce E. Katz, M.D., head of Columbia
Presbyterian Medical Center's dermatology cosmetic surgery center in New York.

Maybe we should get Bruce and Doug in the same room and let them battle it
(comment by the writer)

How can two scientists have opposing views?

Is science not an exact science then lol
I think they are both right..LOL. But I remember Doug saying that acetone can dry the skin, so just re-apply oil.
I have the whole post he posted on Beautytech, let me know id you need it, I can email it to you....
Interesting that Dr. Katz says that acetone dries the 'nail bed' when surely he is talking about the nail 'plate'??? Maybe he doesn't know a lot about nails!

Although acetone does cause a temporary drying affect - as Doug states , moisture levels in the nail return to normal in a very short period of time. He has measured and tested this process and has the results to back up his findings.
Altho I respect that Dr Katz is a dermatologist, Doug schoon is the world authority on nails and the effects of chemical products on nails.

By the way, EVERY nail system that I know of is ORGANIC. Anything is organic if it contains carbon - as for 90% organic, this is just a marketing ploy to make people think that what they are using is safer than someone elses product - and technicians fall for it because we have all been brainwashed by the media to think that ORGANIC means pure and lovely etc. Cow POOP is 100% organic -- would you want to wash your hair in it or put it on your nails?

PRODUCTS don't damage nail plates, BAD nail technicians DO. And we all know that. So let's not fall for the marketing BS. We all respond to words like 'BIO' and ORGANIC and think it sounds wonderful -- look at all the shampoo companies that use those words -- clever of them really to use this tendency to their advantage. But with knowledge and understanding it is possible to see through the BS (which by the way is organic!! :p )
Hi all

Not trying to put the cat among the pigeons or anything, but I seem to remember a post from The Grand Master Geek himself, mentioning that it would be unwise to soak off too often. If what Doug says is true, then surely this should make no difference as long as your client continues to rehydrate her nails with a decent cuticle oil (ie. Solar Oil).

Just looking for clarification
It's a matter of degree.
With the normal proceedure for removing product, there isn't a problem. But overdo it and you put the nail under pressure.
Kind of like eating chocolate. Eat it moderately and there isn't a problem. Eat it too often and you gain weight!
It is not wise to overdo anything.
As Gigi said... it’s a matter of degree...

Soaking in Acetone is going to be very dehydrating. That process is only temporary and moisture levels return to normal.

But that drying effect can start to cause problems when done frequently.

The issue isn’t so much acetone as it is with solvents in general. Solvents (in this context) are designed to remove things like enamels and product, but when they do that, they also remove oil and moisture.
When that happens, the nail plate (and skin) can become subtly damaged until they become rehydrated again. When you strip oil and moisture from the plate, you take away all of the lubrication for the keratin polymer that makes up the plate. That makes the keratin brittle and the keratin polymer chains more likely to 'snap' away from one another under duress.
Frequent use of solvents can keep the keratin overly dry and in this fragile state for great lengths of time. The longer its left in this state, the more damage can occur.

Take hand washing as an example. We all wash our hands frequently throughout the day with no problems whatsoever. When people start to wash their hands excessively (like compulsive hand washers) they begin to have lots of skin problems because they are constantly stripping all the oil and moisture from their skin. The Keratin polymer in the skin becomes too brittle and dry and can no longer hold itself together.

I guess in summary... Any solvent is fine for the plate within certain limits. When you begin to exceed those limits, then you can start to have excessive problems.

Most of the problems that Doug was writing about in regards to the Acetone situation was in response to health concerns related to using acetone. There are several industries that used to use mass volumes of acetone as skin cleansing agents and that can cause serious health concerns. Because of those concerns, people were concerned about the health risks of using acetone in the salon. His real point is that the amounts we are exposed to are incredibly safe and should never cause us concern.
The damaging effects of acetone on the natural nail plate are pretty negligible and very subjective. Normal exposure won’t cause anymore damage then removing the shine from the nail plate whereas frequent soak offs can cause a lot more.

In essence... they are both right... it all comes down to exposure.

Hope this helps.
if your soaking off every three to four weeks is that to much,cause thats what we do at work if its the clients own nails under the l&p.if they still have tips on we file down like normal.cause im worried that im damaging clients nails.they seem ok ,but soon as they are soaked they are overlayed again.i know its not the way cnd says to rebalance but its what my boss says we have to do :?
I guess in summary... Any solvent is fine for the plate within certain limits. When you begin to exceed those limits, then you can start to have excessive problems.

So what is classified as too frequent?

So what is classified as too frequent?

I just put a new set of p/w on Wednesday and Friday. :oops: I know, but I only could fit one hand in at a time. lol I did such a poor job I really have no where to go but to redo them all over again. All I can say is that I really was off my game. My whites are too low and then I got file crazy, I filed them too short. They are hideous. So in short I hope I wont do too much damage if I start over again tomorrow.
So what is classified as too frequent?

How long is a piece of string :)

Yea... it always irritates me when someone asks about the string thing too.

The point is... it’s very subjective.

So you soak your nails twice in a matter of a couple of weeks... but seldom ever outside that? I wouldn’t think that would be very much damage on an average nail.
Soak off every 5-6 weeks. Yea... I think that’s very excessive.

See... within those 5 weeks of growth... you have a little over 1/10 of an inch of growth of the nail. By the time the nail grows out past what the client would have as her free edge, it will have most likely of spent hours and hours soaking in solvent.

The thinner the plate... the more significant the damage.

Use your discretion and soak when necessary... don’t be scared of it... just be smart.

I have to have my say on the chocolate in moderation geeg, I only have to look at it to put on a stone so moderation obviously doesn`t do me any good whatsoever, so I may as well have it LOADS and enjoy it, no?
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