Gel manicures are offered everywhere these days. They come in “soft” and “hard,” generic and brand name and are a beautiful option for those interested in long-lasting, chip-free color that can last upward of three weeks. In fact, the idea of having perfectly polished nails that last is so popular, that some nail brands like CND Shellac and Orly GelFX have created quicker-to-apply, more natural-looking variations of the classic gel manicure to meet the demand. At-home gels have also recently hit the market.
While all these different options have features that set them apart, they all have one very important technology in common: The necessity of a UV nail lamp to cure the polish, creating that unique nail color longevity women clamor for.
With the overwhelming success of this technique and rise in use, along with the growing epidemic of skin cancer and increased awareness of the danger of UV tanning beds, the public has to wonder if repeated use of UV nail lamps is safe. Are these mini UV beds for the hands akin to the photo-aging and cancer-causing UV tanning beds doctors strongly advise against?
In 2009, the report “Occurrence of Nonmelanoma Skin Cancers on the Hands After UV Nail Light Exposure” from the Departments of Dermatology and Plastic Surgery at The University of Texas, stated that exposure to UV nail lights is a risk factor for the development of skin cancer. In contrast, an independent study published by the Nail Manufacturers Council found that the UV exposure from UV nail lamps is not similar to the exposure from a UV tanning bed, and if administered by a professional twice a month, is no more harmful than spending around 26 extra seconds in natural sunlight.
Melbourne, FL, dermatologist Anita Saluja, MD, agrees with the latter. “It appears that UV nail lights do not pose the same risk that tanning beds pose in terms of skin cancer.” Meaning, the average person, exposed to UV nail lamps twice a month is not in danger of developing melanoma. “If someone were highly sensitive to ultraviolet light (had a condition such as skin lupus), then sunscreen on their hands prior to this treatment might make sense, but for the majority of patients who are intermittently exposed for a few minutes at a time, the current thought is that there should be no need for extra protection (sunscreen),” says the doctor.
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