Gel Nail Polish may be Pretty, But it isn’t Risk-Free

nail ultraviolet
Toxins and Chemicals

nail ultravioletPeople are willing to go through varying levels of body modifications to reach what they believe will make them most attractive or even simply feel pretty. Fake nails are just one of the relatively acceptable methods of such modifications. But acrylic and gel nails that you get in a salon may have risks you are unaware of, though they may be nothing to be concerned about for most.

A recent study published in JAMA Dermatology revealed that the UV lamps used to “set” your nails before you walk out the door could put you at a greater risk for cancer, albeit slight.

As the journal reports:

“Use of UV radiation in nail salons for drying and curing polishes has come under scrutiny owing to concerns for carcinogenesis. A few recent studies evaluated potential irradiation scenarios and concluded that UV nail polish drying lamps pose only a small risk to clients. However, these studies lacked randomized light sampling from commercial salons.”

Those lamps are like little tanning beds, producing ultraviolet light that, in this case, dries your polish. But like tanning beds, they have risks.

“No one had actually studied the lamps themselves,” said Dr. Lyndsay Shipp of Georgia Regents University and lead author of the study. “We thought we could add something to the puzzle.”

A previous study had revealed two women that commonly used the lamps got skin cancer on the back of their hands. But the study didn’t prove the lamps were to blame.

Read: Beware of Chemicals in Nail Polish

In this most recent research, Dr. Shipp and her colleagues measured the amount of UV being put off by nail lamps at 16 different nail salones. She says their findings reveal the UV exposure is actually very low, and varies not only from machine to machine but from position to position under the lamp.

It’s because exposure remains so low that Dr. Shipp concluded the risk of skin cancer from nail salons remains quite low.

But the risk is there. And if you’re the type to get your nails done every few weeks, you can take steps to prevent exposure and the premature aging that goes with it. Protect your hands with photoprotective gloves with the fingers cut out or even simple, safe sunscreen.

Dr. Zoe Diana Draelos of Duke School of Medicine says the hands shouldn’t be the only concern, that extended UV exposure to the eyes can also do damage, potentially leading to cataracts. She suggests wearing sunglasses while in the nail salon.

So, now that you’ve got your fingerless gloves, and sunglasses on, what’s next?

Because these special nails block oxygen to the nail, your fingernails can get quite ugly underneath all of the pretty encasement. Dr. Draelos recommends taking a break from them every three months. Otherwise you risk fungus, infection, and losing your fingernails altogether.

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