Are gel manicures doing more harm than good for our nails?
What’s the first thing you do when you hit the beach? Apply your best sun cream, right? After all, we’re all aware of the damage UV rays can do to our skin. And we’re all aware that in order to protect our skin from the sun, we need to slap on some sun cream before heading out into it. But, we doubt that sun cream is the first thing you think of when you hit the nail salon. Thing is, you should. Because UV gel nail lamps can be a major health risk.
You see, if your gel manicure is cured with a UV lamp, each coat of gel nail polish is set using UV light. And according to Dr Chris Adigun, from New York University School of Medicine, this can damage the skin much the same way as lying in a sun bed.
There is also the added worry that because these lights aren’t regulated, consumers don’t know how much exposure they’re getting each time. And although these rays don’t burn the skin like UVB rays, she says, they do penetrate the skin and can damage DNA and collagen. In turn, this can lead to premature ageing and may increase skin cancer risk.
In fact, in 2009, a study revealed that two women developed tumours on their hands following exposure to UV gel nail lamps. Neither of them had a family history of skin cancer and both of them worked indoors, according to the research published in JAMA Dermatology. This led Dr Adigun to study the side effects of UV lamps.
Another unwelcome side effect she found? Photo-ageing of the skin, which can show up as things like sun spots and wrinkles. What’s more, people with weak or brittle nails may not be able to withstand the acetone used during the removal process and by continuing with it, may cause serious damage to their nail bed.
Thankfully, these days, most nail technicians use LED lights that are no more dangerous than sitting under strip lighting. But, if you’re concerned about UV exposure or the health of your nails, talk to a board-certified dermatologist.