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Acrylic Nails: Regular or Odorless?

The difference between regular and odorless acrylics lies in more than just the level of smelliness! In this informative piece, Green Bay Nail Tech student Vanessa discusses the pros and cons of each type, and offers some helpful tips, too! Which type will you prefer? Read on to find out!

Acrylic Nails: Regular or Odorless?

Written by Vanessa

Ever notice that awful smell upon entering a nail salon? There’s a reason for it and I’ll let you decide if it’s worth the headaches. Acrylic nails are a blessing in the sense that you can truly camouflage any imperfections, not to mention all the beauty and strength that they have. But is it really worth it? Personally, I think they have their ups and downs. It all comes down to your nail technician and what they’re capable of. Regular acrylic and odorless acrylic systems are readily available to your nail tech. If you feel that odorless will be your ‘cup of tea,’ please discuss your thoughts and opinions with your nail technician.

Woah! That smell! Every tech hears this at one point in their career, but where does it come from? Sure, there’s tips and tricks to keep the smell contained – ex: using moist/lint-free wipes versus paper towels to wipe their brushes on, or using a metal trash can with a lid to entrap those fumes. But, what really makes it smell? It all comes down to Thioacetone, an organosulfer compound found within liquid monomer. It helps in the polymerization which is the process your nails go through when acrylic begins to harden over your nail beds and tips. Why doesn’t odorless smell? No, it’s not a dumb question. The molecules within the liquid monomer are simply heavier and more moist than regular acrylic monomer, so it doesn’t become airborne, releasing that thioacetone compound and the accompanying smell. MMA (a type of monomer) has the smallest molecules while EMA has larger, so EMA doesn’t reek nearly as bad as MMA does.

The fact is, both are great systems with their own little quirks. What are those quirks? Well, we already know that regular monomer reeks to the high heavens, causing headaches and other complications if overly exposed, while odorless has none. But hey, what else is great about odorless? It self levels! Therefore, less lumps and bumps to file away later, and with that, less airborne particles to breathe in. Also with odorless, you need less monomer because you’ll need a dryer bead. Yay! Less money spent on monomer! Downside to that – with less monomer it means the bead is dryer and thicker, leading to a thicker enhancement if your nail tech isn’t careful. Why’s your nail sticky after the odorless system sets up? Well, this system’s monomer is heavier, right? So those heavier molecules want to stay atop the new enhancement. This you can either buff or wipe away with alcohol (if it’s a thin enough layer). That nasty sticky layer isn’t a problem with regular acrylic systems though. In regular acrylics, the molecules are light enough to evaporate away instead of leaving that mess behind. This means you can easily sculpt nail art on top of your enhancements, along with a faster cure time.

Yes, each system has its quirks. Odorless can be tricky to control but it has its place in the world of nails, just as regular acrylic does. I love the fact you don’t have to stink up a home or salon, but sometimes regular acrylic is necessary. Just remember the low-odor tips and tricks previously shared to try to contain the smell! What do you think? Which system will be your number one, go-to favorite?

Nail Technology Student

Vanessa is a current

Nail Tech student at

our Green Bay school.

Are you obsessed with all things Nails?? Check out our Nail Tech Program and make a career out of it!