• John Havens CaryEmail author
  • Howard I. Maibach
Reference work entry


Various nail cosmetic techniques are described as well as the chemical ingredients that are found in nail products.

It is estimated that 6–13% of the adverse reactions to cosmetics relate to nail polish, and most of these reactions are attributed to toluene sulfonamide formaldehyde resin (TSFR), a polymer resin that is used to improve nail adhesion and gloss.

Manicurists should be aware of the potential occupational hazards of allergic contact dermatitis and hand sensitization from sculpturing the not-yet-hardened resin with a file. Nail-elongating chemicals are reported to cause allergic contact dermatitis.

Other health effects from nail salon chemical exposure include occupational asthma, pulmonary edema, and mucosal irritation of eyes, mouth, and throat.

Prevention strategies and good work practices can reduce the risk of harming effects on cosmetologists.


Cosmetologist Nail technician Beautician Manicurist Nail cosmetic Contact dermatitis Occupational dermatitis Dermatitis 


  1. Adams RM (1990) Occupational skin disease, 2nd edn. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp 607–609Google Scholar
  2. Adams RM, Maibach HI (1985) A five-year study of cosmetic reactions. J Am Acad Dermatol 13:1062–1069PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bara RL, Schoon D (1998) Cosmetics for abnormal and pathological nails. In: Baran R, Maibach HI (eds) Textbook of cosmetic dermatology. Martin Dunitz, London, pp 233–244Google Scholar
  4. Baran RL (1982) Pathology induced by the application of cosmetics to the nail. In: Frost P, Horwitz SN (eds) Principles of cosmetics for the dermatologist. Mosby, St. Louis, pp 181–184Google Scholar
  5. Baran RL, Schibli H (1990) Permanent paresthesia to sculptured nails. A distressing problem. Dermatol Clin 8:139–141PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Belsito DV (1987) Contact dermatitis to ethyl-cyanoacrylate-containing glue. Contact Dermatitis 17:234–236PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bjorkner B (1995) Plastic materials. In: RJG R, Menne T, Frosch PJ (eds) Textbook of contact dermatitis, 2nd edn. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, pp 539–572CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bordel-Gomez MT, Miranda-Romero A, Castrodeza-Sanz J (2010) Epidemiology of contact dermatitis: prevalence of sensitization to different allergens and associated factors. Actas Dermosifiliogr 101(1):59–75PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brun R (1978) Contact dermatitis to orangewood in a manicurist. Contact Dermatitis 4:315PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burrows D, Rycroft RJG (1981) Contact dermatitis from PTBP resin and tricresyl ethyl phthalate in a plastic nail adhesive. Contact Dermatitis 7:336–337PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Canizares O (1956) Contact dermatitis due to the acrylic materials used in artificial nails. Arch Dermatol 74:141–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Caravati EM, Litovitz TL (1988) Pediatric cyanide intoxication and death from an acetonitrile containing cosmetic. JAMA 260:3470–3473PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Castelain M, Veyrat S, Laine G, Montastier C (1997) Contact dermatitis from nitrocellulose in nail varnish. Contact Dermatitis 36:266–267PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Conde-Salazar L, Guinaraens D, Romero LV et al (1986) Occupational allergic contact dermatitis to artificial nails. Contact Dermatitis 15:242PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. De Groot AC, Weyland JW, Nater JP (1994) Nail cosmetics. In: Unwanted effects of cosmetics and drugs used in dermatology, 3rd edn. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 524–529Google Scholar
  16. Draelos ZD (1995) Cosmetics in dermatology, 2nd edn. Churchill Livingstone, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Efthimiadis C, Kosmidis C, Anthimidis G, Grigoriou M, Levva S, Fachantidis P, Psihidis G (2008) Barber’s hair sinus in a female hairdresser: uncommon manifestation of an occupational disease: a case report. Cases J 1(1):214PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eiermann H (1981) Methacrylate nail builders. Fact sheet. Food and Drug Administration, Division of Cosmetics Technology, RockvilleGoogle Scholar
  19. Engasser PG (1997) Nail cosmetics. In: Scher RK, Daniel CR III (eds) Nails: therapy, diagnosis, surgery, 2nd edn. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp 276–281Google Scholar
  20. Fisher AA (1989) Permanent loss of fingernails due to allergic reaction to an acrylic nail preparation: a sixteen-year follow-up study. Cutis 43:404–406PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Fisher AA (1990) Adverse nail reactions and paresthesia from “photobonded acrylate ‘sculptured’ nails”. Cutis 45:293–294PubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Fisher AA, Baran RL (1991) Adverse reactions to acrylate sculpture nails with particular reference to prolonged parethesia. Am J Contact Dermat 2:38–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Fisher AA, Frank A, Glicks A (1957) Allergic sensitization of the skin and nails to acrylic plastic nails. J Allergy 28:84–88PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Fitzgerald DA, Bhaggoe R, English JSC (1995) Contact sensitivity to cyanoacrylate nail-adhesive with dermatitis at remote sites. Contact Dermatitis 32:175–176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Food and Drug Administration (1994) (HFS-565) Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, p 13Google Scholar
  26. Freeman S, Lee M-S, Gudmundsen K (1995) Adverse contact reactions to sculptured nails: 4 case reports and a literature review. Contact Dermatitis 33:381–385PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gallicchio L, Miller SR, Greene T et al (2010a) Health outcomes of children born to cosmetologists compared to children of women in other occupations. Reprod Toxicol 29(3):361–365 Epub ahead of printPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Gallicchio L, Miller S, Greene T et al (2010b) Menstrual cycle abnormalities among cosmetologists: the Reproductive Outcomes in Salon Employees study. Reprod Sci 17(1):20–28 Epub 18 Sep 2009PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Goodwin P (1976) Onycholysis due to acrylic nail applications. Clin Exp Dermatol 1:191–192PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Guin JG, Baas K, Nelson-Adesokan P (1998) Contact sensitization to cyanoacrylate adhesive as a cause of severe onychodystrophy. Int J Dermatol 37:31–36PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Guin JD, Wilson P (1999) Onycholysis from nail lacquer: a complication of nail enhancement? Dermatitis 10:34–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hausen BM, Milbrodt M, Koenig WA (1995) The allergens of nail polish. I. Allergenic constituents of common nail polish and toluenesulfonamide-formaldehyde resin (TSFR). Contact Dermatitis 33:157–164PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hemmer W, Focke M, Wantke F, Gotz M, Jarish R (1996) Allergic contact dermatitis to artificial fingernails prepared from UV light-cured acrylates. J Am Acad Dermatol 35:377–380CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Herdt-Losavio ML, Lin S, Druschel CM, Hwang SA, Mauer MP, Carlson GA (2009a) The risk of congenital malformations and other neonatal and maternal health outcomes among licensed cosmetologists. Am J Perinatol 26(9):625–631 Epub 23 Apr 2009PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Herdt-Losavio ML, Lin S, Druschel CM, Hwang SA, Mauer MP, Carlson GA (2009b) The risk of having a low birth weight or preterm infant among cosmetologists in New York State. Matern Child Health J 13(1):90–97 Epub 23 Feb 2008PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hiipakka D, Samimi B (1987) Exposure of acrylic fingernail sculptors to organic vapors and methacrylate dusts. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 48:230–237PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Infante PF, Petty SE, Groth DH, Markowitz G, Rosner D (2009) Vinyl chloride propellant in hair spray and angiosarcoma of the liver among hairdressers and barbers: case reports. Int J Occup Environ Health 15(1):36–42PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jacobs MC, Rycroft RJG (1995) Allergic contact dermatitis from cyanoacrylate? Contact Dermatitis 33:71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Kanerva L, Lauerma A, Jolanki R, Estlander T (1995) Methyl acrylate: a new sensitizer in nail lacquer. Contact Dermatitis 33:203–204PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kanerva L, Lauerma A, Estlander T, Alanko K, Henriks-Eckerman M-L, Jolanki R (1996) Occupational allergic contact dermatitis caused by photobonded sculptured nails and a review of (meth)acrylates in nail cosmetics. Am J Contact Dermat 7:109–115PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  41. Koppula SV, Fellman JH, Storrs FJ (1995) Screening allergens for acrylate dermatitis associated with artificial nails. Am J Contact Dermat 6:78–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Liden C, Berg M, Farm G, Wransjo K (1993) Nail varnish allergy with far-reaching consequences. Br J Dermatol 128:57–62PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lozewicz S, Davidson AG, Hopkirk A et al (1985) Occupational asthma due to methyl methacrylate and cyanoacrylates. Thorax 40:836–839PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marks JG (1990) Cosmetics. In: Adams RM (ed) Occupational skin disease, 2nd edn. Saunders, Philadelphia, pp 326–348Google Scholar
  45. Nagtzaam IF, van der Velden JJ, Kelleners-Smeets NW, Frank J (2007) Onycholysis associated with subungual manifestation of barber’s hair sinus. Int J Dermatol 46(Suppl 3):48–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1999) Controlling chemical hazards during the application of artificial fingernails. Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC, pp 99–112Google Scholar
  47. Norton LA (1991) Common and uncommon reactions to formaldehyde-containing nail hardeners. Semin Dermatol 10:29–33PubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Peretz J, Gallicchio L, Miller S et al (2009) Infertility among cosmetologist. Reprod Toxicol 28(3):359–364PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Potter JL, Drill CE, Neal D, Kalron WG (1988) Methemoglobinemia due to ingestion of N,N-dimethyl-p-toluidine, a component used in the fabrication of artificial fingernails. Ann Emerg Med 17:1098–1100PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Quach T, Von Behren J, Goldberg D, Layefsky M, Reynolds P (2015) Adverse birth outcomes and maternal complications in licensed cosmetologists and manicurists in California. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 88(7):823–833PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Quenon S (1989) Artificial fingernail products: a guide to chemical exposures in the nail salon. California Department of Health Services, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
  52. Ramos L, Cabral R, Gonçalo M (2014) Allergic contact dermatitis caused by acrylates and methacrylates – a 7-year study. Contact Dermatitis 71:102–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Reulen RC, Kellen E, Buntinx F, Brinkman M, Zeegers MP (2008) A meta-analysis on the association between bladder cancer and occupation. Scand J Urol Nephrol Suppl 218:64–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Ronda E, Garcia AM, Sanchez-Paya J et al (2009) Menstrual disorders and subfertility in Spanish hairdressers. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol 147(1):61–64PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ronda E, Moen BE, Garcia AM et al (2010) Pregnancy outcomes in female hairdressers. Int Arch Occup Environ Health 83(8):945–951 Epub ahead of printPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Sainio E-L, Engstrom K, Henriks-Eckerman ML, Kanerval L (1997) Allergenic ingredients in nail polishes. Contact Dermatitis 37:155–162PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Savonius B, Keskinen H, Tuppurainen M, Kanerva L (1993) Occupational respiratory disease caused by acrylates. Clin Exp Allergy 23:416–424PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Schlossman ML (1979) Nail-enamel resins. Cosmet Technol 1:52–55Google Scholar
  59. Schlossman ML (1980) Modern nail enamel technology. J Soc Cosmet Chem 31:29–36Google Scholar
  60. Schlossman ML, Wimmer E (1992) Advances in nail enamel technology. J Soc Cosmet Chem 43:331–337Google Scholar
  61. Schoon D (1998) Nail varnish formulation. In: Baran R, Maibach HI (eds) Textbook of cosmetic dermatology, 2nd edn. Martin Dunitz, London, pp 213–218Google Scholar
  62. Schubert HJ, Lindner K, Prater E (1992) Kontakallergie im nagestudio. Z Hautkr 67:1067–1069Google Scholar
  63. Sheriff RL (2008) Policy matters: pedicures at what price? Policy matters. California Senate Office of Research, SacramentoGoogle Scholar
  64. Spencer AB, Estill CF, McCammon JB, Mickelsen RL, Johnston OE (1997) Control of ethyl methacrylate exposures during the application of artificial fingernails. Am Ind Hyg Assoc J 58:214–218PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Spencer A, Gazzani P, Thompson D (2016) Acrylate and methacrylate contact allergy and allergic contact disease: a 13-year review. Contact Dermatitis 75(3):157–164PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Takkouche B, Regueira-Mendez C, Montes-Martinez A (2009) Risk of cancer among hairdressers and related workers: a meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol 38(6):1512–1531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Thyssen JP, Milting K, Bregnhoj A, Sosted H et al (2009) Nickel allergy in patch-tested female hairdressers and assessment of nickel release from hairdresser’s scissors and crochet hooks. Contact Dermatitis 61(5):281–286PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Uter W, Geier J (2015) Contact allergy to acrylates and methacrylates in consumers and nail artists – data of the Information Network of Departments of Dermatology, 2004–2013. Contact Dermatitis 72(4):224–228CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Woolf A, Shaw J (1998) Childhood injuries from artificial nail primer cosmetic products. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 152:41–46PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Louisiana State University School of MedicineNew OrleansUSA
  2. 2.Department of DermatologyUniversity of California Medical SchoolSan FranciscoUSA
  3. 3.Department of DermatologyUniversity of CaliforniaSan FranciscoUSA

Personalised recommendations